It’s all in the interest of public safety, according to DPD. "With warmer weather and increased crowds over the past few weekends – we have instituted the closures earlier in the year in the interest of public safety. With the earlier closures – we have alerted drivers so they can find alternative routes in that area on Friday and Saturday nights," the department said in an emailed statement. "These streets will still be open to pedestrian traffic."
Between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m., Dallas police officers will close parts of Main, Elm and Pryor streets. There will also be partial closures on Indiana and Crowdus streets, as well as a closure southbound on Malcom X Boulevard from Indiana and Commerce streets.
Longtime Deep Ellum business owner and musician John Jay Myers said he doesn’t have a negative opinion of the closures. “Every time they do it, the violence does seem to decrease,” Myers told the Observer. “I am not a criminologist, so I can’t figure out why that is. My only guess would be that they have to run further to get to a getaway vehicle.”
Myers owns two businesses in Deep Ellum, Cheapsteaks and The Free Man Cajun Cafe and Lounge. Both businesses did 20% less business this weekend, but Myers said that could also be due to the Easter holiday.
“My big thing is most of the time these people committing crimes don’t actually go in anywhere,” Myers said. “They are just out to cause trouble, and most of the time they aren’t even 21.”
Myers offered a couple possible solutions: “A ‘you have to be going somewhere’ rule and cover charges everywhere to keep out the kind of people that can only afford to cause trouble.” But he also admits, “I really don’t know the answer.
“I think it’s a shame that people want to hurt people for no reason than just to hurt them,” he said. “I do like the fact that eventually they have been catching these people.”
The most recent Deep Ellum shooting occurred April 10. Police said it started with an altercation between several people, and someone pulled out a gun and opened fire. In surveillance footage released by DPD, people can be seen scattering after the first shots. Then, multiple muzzles flash as some returned fire and others continued to run from the scene.
Two people were wounded by the gunfire and taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
"... If we have to take a small hit for a short amount of time in order to see results, I'm OK with that.” – Jessica Brodsky, local bartender
Dallas police released a clear image of one man they suspected was involved in the shooting and announced on Monday they had arrested him. DaMichael Rose is facing charges for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Deep Ellum street closures have drummed up some controversy in the past. After a shooting in the area last year, DPD Police Chief Eddie Garcia told residents, business owners and city officials, “We are taking Deep Ellum back for our city.”
On a Sunday that month, DPD put barricades up to block some Deep Ellum streets. Jessica Brodsky, a local bartender, told the Observer at the time she didn’t think barricading the streets would deter all the problems that cause violence.
For the last couple of months, Brodsky said she’s been on a hiatus from her work in Deep Ellum and starts back up this coming weekend. ”People overall seem torn” when it comes to the street closures, she said.
“While it's a good idea when presented by those for it, there is also the longstanding issue of people loitering and partying in the streets,” Brodsky said. “This seems to be a huge issue lately that has led to a lot of the violence we have been experiencing."
Brodsky continued: “Creating a controlled environment could absolutely work, but it will take law enforcement actually enforcing laws and keeping a presence that is perceived as a safety measure and not intimidation, as well as being proactive instead of hands off.”
Brodsky said there’s also been a problem with communication and consistency when it came to the closures in the past.
“Closing at different times, different places and officers with different orders each weekend causes confusion and massive frustration,” Brodsky explained. “This time around they claim to have a set plan so if we have to take a small hit for a short amount of time in order to see results, I'm OK with that.”
She said it will be crucial for the police to work with the businesses and employees in the area and listen to their feedback. One thing police may want to be mindful of, Brodsky said, is some performers could have trouble loading in or loading out of venues if the streets are closed.
While it’s too early to tell how the closures will affect Deep Ellum business, Brodsky is still optimistic.
“With this weekend being a holiday, I think a better test will be the next few weeks,” she said. “Getting a handle on the situation before summer will make the biggest impact. And I'm staying hopeful and positive.”