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A Daily Conversation About Dallas

Travel

10 Secluded Summer Vacations A Drive From Dallas

| 2 weeks ago

If sheltering at home is giving you cabin fever, it might be time to get out of the house and drive to an actual cabin. While staying at home remains the safest and most responsible option to contain the spread of COVID-19, the boutique destinations listed below offer a socially distanced getaway with far fewer communal areas and points of contact than traditional hotels. Your best bet for a safe trip is to find a location you can reach without stopping. Only travel with people in your so-called bubble. Limit exposure to strangers—it’s not time to check into a resort and book a spa treatment—and wear a mask in places where you can’t.

Whether you’re booking a mini honeymoon after your Zoom wedding or just enjoying a weekend on the lake, there’s a way to fulfill your summer travel plans with care. It’s just going to be a little different this time around. Let us help you.

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Local News

A Righteous Noise In Dallas’ Streets

| 4 weeks ago

In the short time since the May 25 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, we have accomplished that very American and inevitable thing of dividing ourselves into warring camps and points of view about it. But when the nation first saw the viral video—the knee on the neck, George Floyd calling to his mother while he was slowly killed—our response was a national shriek in unison.

That shriek of horror is still the truth, the heart and core of all this. But that same national unanimity of revulsion may mask another significant truth.

Every city in this country is unique, each its own family with its own long history, secrets, proud moments, and shame. Each city has absorbed this singular catastrophe in its own unique fashion.

For Dallas, there was never going to be a way the death of George Floyd could escape being bookended with 7/7/16—the night Micah Xavier Johnson, a 25-year-old Afghan war veteran, murdered five police officers and wounded seven more officers and two civilians during a downtown protest march.

In fact, for 10 seconds, let’s even try to forget politics. Forget philosophy. The rioting downtown over George Floyd’s death and the horror of 7/7/16 are inextricably bound in the consciousness of this city simply because we already know what can happen. We have seen it before. We have lived through blood, death, mayhem on our streets. Fury and grief are not mysterious strangers here. They are our companions.

And by the way, we are going to get to the questions of looting and provocateurs. Just give me a minute.

But first, a test question. I ask this knowing that the question will divide us into racial camps. And I guess I should tell you that, when the question was put to me, I came out White (surprise, surprise).

The 7/7/16 police deaths took place during a march to protest the deaths of two Black men at the hands of police. What were their names?

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Local Government

How Clay Jenkins Manages a Pandemic From Home

| 4 weeks ago

One of the first decisions Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins made as the pandemic spread into the United States was to move his 87-year-old mother out of her assisted living facility and into his home in Bluffview.

On a sunny Tuesday in mid-April, I also find myself at Jenkins’ house, sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch, worried that I might unwittingly spread the coronavirus to the man responsible for the health of Dallas County’s 2.6 million residents—or, even worse, infect his mother. A week earlier, I had asked Jenkins’ chief of staff if the judge would give me a glimpse into how he was managing the response to the greatest health and economic crisis in Dallas history at a time when people were not allowed to leave their homes. I thought I might be looped in on a couple of Zoom meetings. To my surprise, Jenkins said I should just come over. We should be fine, he said, as long as we stayed outside and maintained social distance.

Leading the response to a pandemic from home, it turns out, is like managing air traffic control through an iPhone. The judge is in gray corduroys, white New Balance running shoes, and a navy windbreaker with the words “Emergency Management” on the back. He rocks in his chair as he fields an endless stream of conference calls.

There’s an emergency responders call, a daily call with the staff of the Dallas city manager’s office, a check-in with heads of area hospitals, and calls to local labor and business leaders whom Jenkins wants to include on an economic recovery task force. There are calls about procuring N95 masks, expanding testing sites, stocking food banks, and communicating best practices for disinfecting golf carts. We take a break from the porch and stroll around his leafy neighborhood. Neighbors approach (and get closer than 6 feet) to thank the judge for his leadership. Then the director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, Dr. Philip Huang, calls with his daily briefing on infection rates.

“Unfortunately, we are going to have a lot of deaths today,” Jenkins says, taking a sip of iced tea from a large metal mug.

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Local News

Three Weeks After the Bridge Disaster, Dallas’ Protests March Onward

| 1 month ago

For the past 27 days, dozens of protesters have gathered at City Hall and marched through the streets of downtown and Uptown in a show of solidarity against police violence and systemic racism. Yesterday evening was no different. Nor was the evening before that.

This Monday marked three weeks since we last saw police become violent toward the protesters, when they kettled and detained 674 peaceful marchers on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge after they shot smoke or tear gas—that’s still unclear—and fired “less lethal” munitions at them. We haven’t seen riot gear since.

In less than a month, we’ve seen elected officials pay attention to what protesters are calling for. Already, 10 members of the Dallas City Council have asked the city manager to explore reshaping next year’s budget to take money from the police department and put it toward social services. These protesters are demanding the construction of an entirely new, equitable foundation.

The shift in the protester-police dynamics can be traced to a place—and an event—whose shadow still falls faintly over every rally and march: the night the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge became a trap.

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Local News

The Voices of the Dallas Protests

| 2 months ago

Since late May, protesters have marched through nearly every part of Dallas. They’ve peacefully expressed solidarity against police violence in downtown, Uptown, Deep Ellum, the Cedars, Lowest Greenville, Oak Cliff, and South Dallas. The demonstrations have even reached the Park Cities, Southlake, Frisco, and Plano.

Some protesters demand divestment from the Dallas Police Department and the reallocation of those public dollars to housing and social services. Others demand the Dallas Police Department be outright abolished. There are calls for departmental policy changes and new laws and regulations to increase police accountability, create equity in the criminal justice system, and end institutionalized racism. Some are first-time protesters. Others are veterans.

But what unites everyone in the streets is a desire for profound, permanent change.

These are the words of a few protesters, captured over the last week. Meet them. And listen to them. (The interviews have been edited for length and clarity.)

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Civics

How Can Dallas Turn the Lessons of the Streets Into a Program of Change?

| 2 months ago

Dallas—and the country—is experiencing the most widespread movement of direct action we have seen in more than 60 years. People are taking to the streets to demand that this city wakes up, listens, and sees the systemic and endemic racism that has defined the lives of people of color in America for what it is. If real progress is going to be made, however, that direct action must advance an agenda of change.

Based on the many conversations going on right now, there is a hunger for change. When Love Field swiftly moves to take down a statue of a racist cop, when the hosts of sports talk station The Ticket spend a week soul searching, you know we have entered a new kind of moment. Reforms that weren’t imaginable a month ago now seem possible.

Change is already happening. Los Angeles may redeploy public funds from its police budget to fund community development. The Minneapolis City Council voted to disband its police department. Even during the disastrous Dallas City Council meeting Friday, the city manager presented a list of possible reforms, and promising ideas were put forth by council members, like reimagining the police academy and banning elected officials from taking campaign donations from police unions.

This next step, however, concerns me. A knee-jerk response to the crisis will likely miss the monumental scale of the problem. Racism runs through every aspect and every institution of American society. It is baked into the structures of power that hold our city, state, and country together. Racism is so much a part of American life that we are blind to most of the insidious ways it defines our culture. Confronting that is going to take courage, not only from our neighbors who have taken to the streets but from all of us.

Over the past week, I have seen a lot of well-meaning efforts to confront the problem. There have been the numerous corporate statements backing Black Lives Matter; public symbols of support, like the blackout of Reunion Tower; and the sharing of articles and ideas on social media about how to support businesses owned by people of color, contribute to organizations that work in disadvantaged communities, and raise money to help repair the damage to properties that took the punch of the anger that manifested in Dallas’ streets. These are not meaningless gestures. They represent people in positions of power and privilege saying, “We hear you.”

But ultimately these are only gestures. They are the kinds of gestures that have been made before, and they are gestures that have proven hollow when it comes to making meaningful change. Real change is going to need to strike more deeply, and it is going to require more than giving our attention, time, and money. But to understand what real change looks like, we must first confront assumptions about how our society works.

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Local News

The Worst City Council Meeting Dallas Has Witnessed in a Decade

| 2 months ago

On Friday afternoon, at a specially called meeting of the Dallas City Council, 213 public speakers signed up to air their grievances. Over the course of almost five hours, just two people spoke in support of the police.

Since Tuesday, demonstrations have been peaceful, but last weekend was filled with tear gas and violence. A man lost his eye and seven teeth after being shot with what appeared to be a sponge bullet, a “less lethal” form of crowd control that police used on peaceful protesters throughout the weekend. Another man had his jaw broken by a cork bullet fired by an officer with either the Irving or Garland police departments; that’s still under investigation. A curfew was initiated Sunday, and 124 people who violated it were shuttled to Lew Sterrett. Some were filmed being thrown to the concrete before their arrest. Then, on Monday, 674 marchers were corralled after walking onto the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge and shot with sponge rounds and detained.

For the public speakers yesterday, those wounds were still fresh, even if the last few days have been quiet and meaningful.

“Blinding us instead of killing us is not progress,” said Ben Struby.

“I am now terrified to be a vocal member of my community,” said Jesse Solis.

“Tear gas is a chemical weapon,” said Justin Boyd.

“I have been horrified by what I’ve seen in our city,” said Allison MacMahon.

“For the past 50 years, Dallas has had one of the most unaccountable police forces in this country,” said longtime activist John Fullinwider, on behalf of Mothers Against Police Violence, after naming eight people who had been shot and killed by Dallas officers since 1970. None of the cases he named ended with a murder conviction. “We have to find another way.”

“One of my main concerns in the response by DPD is the amount of trauma they’ve created in this community. I’ve had countless calls from people with depressive symptoms, anxiety attacks,” said Zandra Ellis, a co-founder of the mental health advocacy nonprofit Foundation 45.

These speakers were in pain. Some cried. Others described 7-inch welts on their thighs from being shot with sponge rounds during Monday’s mass detainment. Their voices shook through their allotted minute and a half. Some spoke of watching in horror from the safety of their downtown apartments as protesters were fired upon and taken into custody. They called for Police Chief U. Reneé Hall to be fired. Like public comment in many other cities, they demanded that City Council defund the police department and reinvest those dollars into communities of color. Later, three council members expressed being open to the idea in some form.

The voices were a contrast to the day’s peaceful events: a mourning at City Hall, culminating in an 8 minute and 46 second silence at 8:46 a.m., in honor of the amount of time Minneapolis Ofc. Derek Chauvin held his knee to George Floyd’s neck. Faith leaders led the day in prayer, and Mayor Eric Johnson and Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson spoke.

“Racism is not new to this country,” Congresswoman Johnson said. “It’s a part of the fabric. I have lived it for 80-some years. But let me say this. We’re not going to live in peace until we come to grips with racism. … I want to tell you what’s on my heart. The first term that I was in public office, my first interim study was to study race relations in policing. Nothing has changed.”

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Food & Drink

Black Leaders in Dallas’ Food Scene Talk About This Historic Moment

| 2 months ago

Dallas, like every city in the U.S. right now, is in a moment of struggle, action, and reflection. For many of us, the news feels raw and charged and galvanizing. For those in Black communities especially, it’s a struggle that is all too familiar.

As we wrestle with this greater reckoning of systemic and racial injustice, we can also look to food. At the most fundamental level, food is what nourishes us; it’s a necessity, like air is to breath. It is also the product of someone’s labor.

We’ve asked some of Dallas’ Black leaders in the food community to share their thoughts and own calls to action within the industry as we watch protesters calling for a better world. Even asking Black voices in the food world is itself requesting a labor.

Let’s listen. Let’s ask ourselves how we can respond to the concerns raised and reflect on the fact that these disparities have inflected every part of the food world. (These interviews have been edited for length and clarity.)

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Arts & Entertainment

Meet the Dallas Class of 2020

| 2 months ago

I didn’t have a conventional high school experience.

I went to one school freshman year, another sophomore year, then finally settled into a homeschool co-op when I was a junior. Still, I got the gist of things. My friends at public schools would take me to football and baseball games, homecoming dances and school plays. By senior year, I had a boyfriend who invited me to his prom and made it feel like a perfect teen rom-com, even though I only knew about five people there. I didn’t have a graduation that spring, but my parents had a barbecue in my honor. My dad Photoshopped a graduation cap onto the photos my mom snapped for the invitation.

So while I didn’t have a traditional high school experience, I always got to be a normal teenager. For the graduating class of 2020, that’s not possible. You and I–we never had to worry about a pandemic while navigating the time between childhood and independence.

I wanted to understand what that would be like. So, I spoke to 10 graduating students from across Dallas-Fort Worth and asked them how it feels to grow into adulthood while the world around them seemingly falls apart. Their answers gave me a lot of hope. Let’s give them the recognition they deserve. (The interviews below have been edited for length and clarity.)

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Local News

I Was Detained in Dallas’ Bridge Raid. It Never Needed to Happen.

| 2 months ago

On Monday night, the Dallas Police Department detained 674 peaceful protesters on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. I was one of them.

I knew it could happen. I had seen nonviolent protesters in virtually every state get gassed, shot at, beaten, and arrested over the weekend. But I needed to be there with my fellow Dallas comrades. I was raised in Plano, attended the UNT, and have lived in Dallas since 2015.

During Sunday’s march through downtown, more than 125 people were arrested largely for curfew violations. Two officers are being investigated for “use-of-force incidents” over the weekend, one involving a protester who lost an eye after being shot with a sponge round. Still, prior to Monday night, I had never been cited for anything more than a speeding ticket. I wanted to march to change police militarization and systemic racism, not my permanent record.

It’s funny, I remember thinking as my wrists bruised and my back ached during four hours of confinement, because our entire protest was specifically meant to play by their rules.

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