For over a year, Oak Lawn–Dallas’s prevailing gayborhood–has been terrorized by a wave of over a dozen violent antigay attacks that have kept the area on edge and under lockdown. Police have made exactly zero arrests thus far, leading residents to fight back and take matters into their own hands. Now, Dallas police Chief David Brown is being accused of maintaining a covert professional partnership with virulently antigay Fox News contributor Pastor Robert Jeffress and his Southern Baptist megachurch.
The New Civil Rights Movement reports that Brown is facing criticism from various LGBTQ advocacy groups--particularly following a rabid speech from Pastor Jeffress that implies pro-gay businesses are an even bigger threat to American than ISIS. As a result, Brown has been doing some fairly acrobatic feats of backpedaling, including releasing the following prepared statement titled “A Message from the Chief”:
“As Chief, one of my greatest worries is the physical and emotional well-being of officers as they put their lives on the line every day to protect the citizens of Dallas. We encourage and support all of our officers who seek out services offered to maintain their physical, emotional, and spiritual health regardless of their religious affiliation.”
On April 17, 2016, First Baptist Dallas held a Back the Blue Event to show support for officers and offered free services to officers and their families.
There is no agreement or relationship between the Dallas Police Department and First Baptist Dallas to provide services to officers.
But as The New Civil Rights Movement points out, this press release directly contradicts previous sentiments Brown has expressed about the partnership, particularly when announcing the upcoming “Back the Blue Event,” with Jeffress in tow, during another press conference.
Talking to WFAA-TV in April, Jeffress said, “This is not just a one-day photo op with the Dallas Police Department. This Sunday signals a beginning of an ongoing relationship with the Dallas Police Department.”
Among Jeffress’ promises, as reported by The Dallas Morning News: his congregation wound fund scholarships for police officer’s kids to go to Bible camps; he’d host a Sunday School service for cops each Sunday; he’d offer complimentary counseling sessions to police and their families; and the church would start a new fund so Brown could reward officers and show his appreciation for them.
The church even posted a video clip in which Brown says, “We are very grateful and thankful to First Baptist Dallas for all that they are doing, and we are really, really excited about this Sunday and the many, many Sundays thereafter where this church will be supporting our officers.”
And in the below video, Brown stands chummily beside Jeffress and says,”I’m excited about this special opportunity that First Baptist Dallas is offering to each of us and our families. Not only will the church be showing their support with a special breakfast reception, gifts and more, but they are going to provide an ongoing network of support like never before.”
So, for obvious reasons, people aren’t exactly sold on Brown’s recent statement.
Writing on Twitter, Councilman and LGBTQ advocate Philip Kingston quipped:
They had a week, and the best they could come up with is “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for?” They have… https://t.co/gIwNhSgRr4
— Philip Kingston (@PhilipTKingston) May 28, 2016
Lee Daughtery, a gay bar owner, said his statements were simple “pandering.”
“I still don’t have clarification on the relationship between FBC and DPD,” he wrote on Facebook. “Staying silent on hate speech, is the same as promoting it. Take a stand Chief, Dallas isn’t this, and won’t be. We are better than this.”
Avi Adelman, a Dallas crime watchdog, says he’s filed a public information request seeking concrete details about the business relationship. The department has apparently told him it will take about a month to get all the records together.
Regarding Brown’s statement, Adelman says, “If you think for one moment that is a truthful statement, then I have a bridge over the Trinity River I want to sell you. I am sure a strong attempt to cover the documents is already in the works.”