The new "Light Up Oak Lawn" campaign isn't a reaction against the city's official-today ban on phony cannabinoids -- it's an initiative spearheaded by the Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats and Oak Lawn residents who are tired of crime in their neighborhood being encouraged by, they say, a significant lack of street lights. Last night the DSYD (who have what has got to be, by far, the best-looking political-group head shots ever) and cohort met at J.R.'s on Cedar Springs to talk about installing up to 300 new streetlights. Around 40 people gathered to talk about what they believe is a long-term, low-cost solution to the muggings, break-ins and assaults that happen in the area.
Upstairs in a J.R.'s party room, drinks perched precariously on table edges and ottomans, it was only a matter of time before a glass took a tumble near the feet of DSYD Political Director Jennifer Allen. She quipped, "We don't break things here! We fix them!" And so after dealing with some Stonewall business, the Dems got down to lighting up, led by Vice President Brian Stout.
"We have this great, vibrant gay neighborhood," said Stout. But, he added, "When you have a neighborhood full of crime, people don't want to go out and celebrate themselves." After hearing "story after story" of friends being mugged and assaulted and having their cars broken into (Oak Lawn's third-worst for crime in Dallas), Stout and the group decided to look for "what we could really get" in terms of reducing crime. Streetlights seemed to be the answer.
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SHOW ME HOW
The DSYD distributed a six-shot print-out of dark Oak Lawn streets and a map of existing streetlights. "There's no rhyme or reason as to why lights are laid out here or here," said Stout, gesturing to the streetlight map. Some streets are entirely lit on one side. Others have just one light mid-street. Others, none at all.
Latisha McDaniel, who lives near the Eatzi's on Oak Lawn, says she doesn't even walk out of her house in the evenings during the week to get a snack at the deli, calling the dark residential area "extremely spooky."
Not only would more streetlights be a crime deterrent, according to research conducted by the DSYD, they would also aid crime victims in being able to identify their attackers. But at as much as $1,500 for low-sodium LED lights (which are longer lasting and more eco-friendly than cheaper kinds), the group could need to raise as much as a half-million dollars.
Political Director Jennifer Allen said much of that money could come from federal or private grants and developers in the area. With the city short on cash this year, "We're doing everything we can to not put some kind of additional strain on the city," she said.