Crime and more cops in the Oak Lawn neighborhood weren't the only things on the minds of demonstrators who rallied outside City Hall this weekend. Somewhere near the end of the gathering in front of Dallas police headquarters, the demonstrators, there to protest 12 violent attacks near the Cedar Springs Road strip in the last 11 weeks, had a few things to say about Dallas City Council member Philip Kingston.
Carrying fliers describing Kingston's supposed misdeeds, the protesters chanted, not in unison but in something close to it, "Where is Phil?"
They were calling for one of the biggest LGBTQ allies on the City Council, the same guy who'd spent the last two weeks fighting the right-wing insanity that'd sprung up after the city amended the language of its anti-discrimination ordinance to be more inclusive of transgender people.
"While he's been right there with us, including being very vocally in support of the change and improvement in the language of the city's non-discrimination ordinance, on this issue he's been very silent," Cannon Brown, president of Dallas' Young Stonewall Democrats said. "The question I've heard a lot of people asking is, 'Where's Philip Kingston?' He has not been making any public statements. He's not been out with us walking the streets. There's $600,000 of a public bond that was issued, that he's been holding."
Answering the where question was easy. Kingston is on vacation in Marfa this week. But even he's not sure why the demonstrators were angry with him. He's been out in front of the crime issue, he says, posting about the attacks on Facebook and meeting with DPD to demand increased police patrols in the area. As for the bond money, he says it hasn't been spent because of a dispute between the city and Oak Lawn business owners.
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"The city proposed narrowing the street [Cedar Springs] from four lanes to three, which would make it a hundred times safer and work better for retail," he says. "Four lanes is probably part of the reason we've had [pedestrian] fatalities over there. The street just doesn't work right. It's all jacked up."
The city couldn't agree with business owners in the area on that plan, though, so Kingston and his colleague, District 2 Councilman Adam Medrano, have been trying to figure out what to do with money. The bond money wasn't needed for security improvements, like cameras, Kingston says, because the 10 scheduled to be installed in the area have already been funded. The first went in Monday, at Cedar Spring Road and Throckmorton Street.
Friday night was the first instance of visibly increased DPD presence on the Cedar Springs strip since the attacks began in September. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings hit the strip for a bar crawl, as well, but those at the rally said that the two and a half months it had taken Rawlings and the police department to show up was too long.