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Monday, October 3, 2022
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Poll: Black Residents Unhappy With Elected Officials’ Anti-Crime Efforts


Empty Dallas City Council Chambers | Image by City of Dallas

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Reducing crime, homelessness, and vagrancy are the most important issues Dallas citizens want the city council to focus on, according to a new poll commissioned by The Dallas Express.

Dallas taxpayers expressed displeasure with the council’s approach to solving the city’s massive vagrant population and crime rate, one of the highest in the country.

Their dissatisfaction was evident in the large margins by which homelessness, vagrancy, and crime exceeded their concerns about reducing property taxes, increasing cleanliness, and increasing equity and inclusion among city employees and citizens.

The poll found that reducing crime was the top issue for respondents. This was the case for 57% of white residents polled, but that percentage increased to 66% for non-white residents.

That finding did not surprise Harold Porter, a 79-year-old retired federal government employee. He said the city’s minority communities are more worried about the high crime rate than the white communities.

“Whites aren’t impacted as much by crime,” said the South Dallas resident, who is black. “Look around here; you can’t find anyone in this neighborhood who hasn’t been a victim of a crime or knows someone who has.”

Statistically, one in every 16 people in South Dallas is a victim of crime, reports Areavibes.com.

Porter said crime in the area had increased substantially in the last few years. City leaders talk about getting tough on crime, but the septuagenarian said talk does not equate to action.

“Hot air,” he said; “that’s all we got out of [council members].”

Instead of just talking about crime prevention, the minority community wants action and results.

Miller Payne, a friend of Porter, said he would like to see the city council and law enforcement make a more concentrated effort to address the crime issue. He suggested more patrols and quicker response times to police calls.

Payne, a 76-year-old retiree who is also black, said violent crime has kept residents from walking or sitting outside and socializing.

“At night, we are afraid to go outside,” he shared.

In South Dallas, the violent crime rate is nearly 350% higher than the national average.

“We pay our taxes to this city. I don’t think it is too much to ask our council members to use that money to protect us,” Payne said. “I can’t walk to his [Porter’s] house after 8 [p.m.] because I am afraid of being shot or robbed.”

Solving the city’s growing homelessness and vagrancy problem ranked second on citizens’ list of issues the council should tackle. The Dallas Express poll found that 44% of white respondents and 58% of non-white respondents believed the council should focus more on the problem.

Phyliss Newton agrees vagrancy is a nuisance, especially in her West Mockingbird Lane neighborhood, and the council’s failure to address the issue is only causing the problem to grow.

She said she spoke with city employees and health officials, who told her the Dallas City Council is tying their hands.

“I’ve called about the fecal matter on sidewalks, the smell, the litter, and how some of us don’t feel safe in our neighborhoods,” she said. “And I am told there is only so much the city can do. That’s bull!”

The City had conducted outreach programs and tried clearing homelessness camps. However, Newton said, those are not deterrents.

The council needs programs that stop the homeless from coming to Dallas, or it needs to create a central location where they can obtain the services they need, said the retired black educator.

She cited a Tampa, Florida, ordinance that makes it illegal to feed the homeless on city property.

“Council needs to look into doing something like that,” Newton said, adding that sometimes a “tough-love approach is the best solution.”

The Dallas Express reached out to council members for comments, but messages were not returned.

Our poll and interviews show that Dallas citizens are trying to get those in charge to see what lies in the way of Dallas’ progress. But, like Balaam’s mistreated donkey, their concerns appear to have been ignored.    

We welcome and appreciate comments on The Dallas Express as part of a healthy dialogue. We do ask that you be kind. Kind to each other and to everyone else in your comments. For more information, please refer to our Complete Comment Moderation Policy.

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Benny Barrett, Sr.
Benny Barrett, Sr.
24 days ago

Looks as though we will need to clean out the council chambers and install true public servants that care about our city.

Kerry VestL
Kerry VestL
Reply to  Benny Barrett, Sr.
24 days ago

Or make some of the Council members live there for a month. Solutions would be found and implemented.

22 days ago

There is no-one seeking “increasing equity and inclusion among city employees and citizens” besides a noisy bunch of communist activists and their professors, but I repeat myself.

22 days ago

The thing about it is that they will continue to vote the same people in, so how are you going to expect change.

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