Citing the April 26 murder of longtime Dallas Morning News delivery driver Robert Lawrence in South Oak Cliff, Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway unveiled his "Stop the Violence" program this afternoon aimed at curbing "senseless crimes." Although he acknowledged that the crime rate has dropped in Dallas, Caraway painted a bleak picture of the city's safety, where women live behind steel gates with five locks.
"They are afraid in their own homes," he told a crowd of mostly black folks gathered at City Hall's Flag Room.
And who are the ones committing these crimes? Council member Carolyn Davis, who had some interesting things to say recently about the no-bid contracts at Love Field, identified the culprits before wrapping up her brief comments at the press conference.
"It's African American males that are hanging out all day long with 40s popped open," she said. "How is that any good? Day in and day out, all day long, 365 days a year with a 40 open, hanging on the corner. Thank you so much."
Following the lengthy presser, which started 20 minutes late and lasted nearly an hour, we asked Caraway about Davis' comments. Visibly uncomfortable, he said, "She's talking about what's she's experiencing."
The purpose of Caraway's event was a bit tough to follow, but it was later revealed that meetings on this issue started back in September at WW Bushman Elementary School following the killings of two people at a car wash in East Oak Cliff. This came out after Dr. Jerry Christian, a DART board member and pastor at Kirkwood Temple Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, interrupted Caraway to ask when a meeting would be scheduled.
During his questioning, Caraway explained that there already had been meetings, which confused Christian and other religious leaders who felt they had been left out of the process. After assuring them that the point of today's gathering was to bring them all to the table, Caraway and everyone agreed to meet as a group at St. Paul Baptist Church on May 17 at 3 p.m.
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Along with getting the religious leaders on the same page, Rickey Smiley of KBFB-97.9 FM and a representative of KSOC-94.5 FM speaking on behalf of Tom Joyner were there to show their support. Caraway told us that their roles will be to spread the message to the community about "Stop the Violence" meetings and how to get involved.
While Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins was expected to join Caraway, he sent Heath Harris, who heads the DA's gang unit. Harris derailed his own speech by beginning with: "Ya'll have heard this. You've heard this song and dance." He added that it was "beautiful" to see new Dallas Police Chief David Brown and Watkins embrace.
As for Brown, we asked Caraway about the significance of having a black police chief. "I don't even look at the police chief in color," he said. And when we questioned the timing of the press conference -- one day after Chief David Kunkle's retirement -- Caraway said it was simply about finding the time to get to it.
Finally, council member Jerry Allen was also on hand. Allen, who represents Lake Highlands, said a lot of law-abiding folks are living next to "punks." His solution? "Move 'em to punksville."