Punk Off

For several months, Paul Burch had planned to host a free punk festival at Arlington's Veterans Park. Burch intended the festival, Acts of Defiance, as a way for people in the Dallas-Fort Worth area "to get to know one another so that they can see that skin color and clothing do not define a person, and that underneath we are all the same." He had even come up with two slogans for Acts of Defiance: "Play for the People -- Not the Profit" and "Nothing and No One Will Be Turned Down." Honorable intentions, to be sure.

But less than a week before Acts of Defiance was scheduled to happen on July 17, city officials informed Burch that the festival was no longer allowed, even though he had obtained the proper permits and reserved the park in May. And to add insult to injury, he would not receive a refund for the permits. Burch claims that the city also told him that "Arlington is a conservative city, and we want to keep it that way. We don't want to be known as the punk-rock capital of the United States."

Amber Dembroski, Arlington's parks facilities coordinator, says that was not the case, that Burch is overstating his claims. According to Dembroski, Burch misrepresented his event when he filled out his application for a permit, claiming that it would be "a small get-together, maybe 100 or so people and a rock-and-roll band." When the parks department found out that he was actually planning a multi-band festival with hundreds of people, and that he was advertising it, they immediately canceled his permit. Dembroski says that events such as Acts of Defiance require the availability of parking and restroom facilities, among other things, to be taken into consideration, and that the festival organizer is required to purchase insurance -- none of which Burch did.

Even though he had been threatened with arrest if he hosted the festival anyway, Burch had decided to push forward with his original plans. But the city literally pulled the plug on Acts of Defiance late last week, informing Burch that they would shut off power at the park on the day of the festival. Because he could not afford to rent power generators, that was that. Well, not quite. Burch insists the festival will happen in the next few weeks, whatever the consequences may be. "I will not be stopped," he said in a recent e-mail. "I can promise that no one will be disappointed." Better start collecting bail money, Paul. Or at least enough cash to pay for your insurance premiums.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky