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Memorial Day: Thousands ‘Carry the Load,’ attend in-person events to honor fallen heroes

Memorial Day: Thousands 'Carry the Load,' attend in-person events to honor fallen heroes

Thousands of people took part in an event in Dallas meant to remind people about the meaning of Memorial Day and who it honors.

Carry the Load began over a decade ago as a small march around White Rock Lake. Now it’s a worldwide tradition with five relays spanning much of the country to honor fallen heroes.

Those who took part all arrived at Reverchon Park in the Turtle Creek neighborhood of Dallas on Monday. Many carried the names and faces of loved ones killed in the line of duty.

“I think everyone needs to remind themselves what Memorial Day means. Bring it into their lives, bring it into their children’s lives,” said Stephen Smith, who walked through the night.

RELATED: Carry the Load helps people honor fallen service members for Memorial Day

For Pauline Perez, this year is personal.

“I could’ve been the reason my family is out here continuing the tradition,” she said.

Perez is a firefighter with Dallas Fire Rescue. On Sept. 21 of last year, she nearly died.

She and the crew of Truck 25 responded to the Hidden Hills Apartment Complex for reports of a gas leak. She was badly injured in the explosion.

RELATED: Dallas apartment explosion injures 8, 3 firefighters in critical condition

“I still have sleeves and gloves on my hands to protect myself from the sun but to be able to be out here and be able to talk and to be able to honor the heroes and put their lives on the line means a lot to me,” Perez said.

She continues to improve and said she is grateful to her brother who motivated her to get out and walk for her mental and physical health.

Since it started, Carry the Load has raised more than $32 million to support programs for veterans, including mental health services and help for the families of fallen service members.

At DFW National Cemetery, it was the first time the public could pay their respects in person since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Jimenez family was among the large audience who took part in the memorial service which included a wreath laying.

“We’re here to pay respects to our nation and those who have passed and made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Teresa Jimenez, whose father was in the Army.

The 638-acre cemetery has conducted more than 75,000 interments of veterans and eligible dependents. Sadly, more will follow.

“It means a lot to see this huge turnout to pay respects for those who have fallen for our country,” said Osario Rodriguez, a member of the U.S. Navy.

RELATED: President Biden observes Memorial Day with ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery

And at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Fort Worth, the public was invited to take part in a one-hour Memorial Day service. This too was in person for the first time in two years.

“We really need to come together to remember where we are, where we were and where we need to go,” said Carl Davis, an Air Force veteran. 

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Residents criticize, call for tweaks to new Dallas events ordinance

Residents criticize, call for tweaks to new Dallas events ordinance

A handful of Dallas residents called on city officials Tuesday to change a proposed ordinance that aims to crack down on venue operators and promoters who advertise large events that don’t need a permit, with some arguing that it’s too broad and could result in unintended consequences.

Nine speakers — mostly representing businesses, neighborhood groups or public safety organizations — either criticized the ordinance or suggested tweaks at a public safety meeting at City Hall, and many asked the city to gather more input.

“I’m asking you as a city to not kill what we have spent years building,” said Julie McCullough, who has said she has produced large fashion shows in Dallas.

“We need more time,” she said. “You have said you’ve talked to stakeholders, yet I’ve talked to so many who had no idea this was going on.”

Harley Barnes from Lively Local Markets told city officials that they need to reach out to...
Harley Barnes from Lively Local Markets told city officials that they need to reach out to more non-English speakers before implementing the new ordinance.(Rebecca Slezak / Staff Photographer)

The draft of the ordinance, which was unveiled last week, is meant to boost safety at events that don’t already have oversight through current city processes. “Commercial promoters” — or those who advertise an event that doesn’t need a permit — would be required to pay a fee and register with the city.

The proposed rules were designed after city officials voiced a need in recent weeks for policies cracking down on event promoters and property owners in the aftermath of two mass shootings at events that did not have permits.

The shootings — one at an outdoor concert in southeast Oak Cliff on April 2 and the other at a spring break party at a South Dallas event venue on March 19 — left two people dead and at least 25 others wounded. The city and some attendees have filed lawsuits against the promoters and property owner over the concert shooting.

Under the proposed ordinance, promoters and venue operators would need an approved, detailed safety plan for events, and would be responsible for costs incurred if the occasion results in any emergency response.

The city already requires a special-use permit for events that meet certain criteria and attract 100 people or more. The new proposed ordinance applies to indoor events with a certain crowd size — the number hasn’t been determined — or outdoor events “of a public nature.” Examples include concerts, outdoor activities and other performances where fees are charged. Events held for or by nonprofit organizations are excluded.

Mixed reactions

Multiple speakers said Tuesday that the ordinance was too broad and could unfairly burden people who follow the current rules and have kept events safe. They asked officials to slow down and refine the ordinance’s scope.

J. Damany Daniel, who said he has helped organize events in Dallas for 25 years, said the new rules could undercut the work of small organizations and artists with limited resources by making the process onerous and expensive.

“It is within reason to take a step back, to do more in-depth conversations — not just to rush to council after a week’s worth of deliberations and a month’s worth of conversations and say, ‘This is the law of the land,’” Daniel said.

Kathy Stewart from Uptown Dallas Inc. speaks during the public comment section of the meeting.
Kathy Stewart from Uptown Dallas Inc. speaks during the public comment section of the meeting.(Rebecca Slezak / Staff Photographer)

Krista Nightengale, who heads The Better Block, an urban design nonprofit group that hosts pop-up events, said the proposed ordinance creates barriers for people trying to bring the community together safely, adding that activating public spaces can reduce crime.

“I find this language to be very broad and, honestly, a bit offensive to the work so many of us are doing,” Nightengale said.

Anthony Page of the Uptown Neighborhood Association and Kathy Stewart, executive director of Uptown Dallas Inc., said they support the ordinance but recommended expanding rules to include promoters who profit from a percentage of food and beverage sales. Page asked that “DJ-themed events” also be included in the ordinance.

‘Important and urgent’

The city attorney’s office said it would look into narrowing the ordinance and making changes. Officials said they could try to carve out “smaller artist-type events” such as an art gallery that barely exceeds the minimum crowd threshold.

The city said it can also look into waiving fees for some events, adding that police try to make security fees affordable. City officials said they also help people with making a safety plan.

Police Chief Eddie García said there’s a difference between rushing and urgency. He said the ordinance is “important and urgent” for safety this summer, when more events are held and rates of violence typically increase.

“We absolutely do not want to stop events from occurring,” he said. “We just want those events to be occurring responsibly with safety precautions in place, because we’ve seen what could happen.”

Council member Adam McGough, who leads the public safety committee, encouraged city staff to gather more input and conduct outreach to non-English speakers, but agreed the new rules were an urgent matter. The final version of the ordinance is expected to be presented to the public safety committee June 13.

“We are just trying to make events safer in Dallas,” McGough said. “Absolutely want to do nothing that inhibits the type of vibrancy, culture and life that we want.”

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Dallas Trail Ride Groups Meet with Police In Effort to Make Events Safer After Shooting

Dallas Trail Ride Groups Meet with Police In Effort to Make Events Safer After Shooting

In the weeks since a field party in Oak Cliff devolved into a deadly shooting, the community has rallied to figure out how to make sure it never happens again.

“It was scary. We’re still dealing with it,” said Dwayne Gray.

As the CEO of WolfPack Riding Club, Gray is working with others, like the Owner and CEO of New Era Booking and Management Firm Paul Franklin, on the newly formed Trail Riding Safety Commission.

Through meetings, like one held Wednesday night, their community is working with police to make sure future events for a long-beloved hobby, which grew in popularity during the pandemic, are safe, though they say that the “Epic Easter” party was hosted by someone outside of their association.

“It’s to work, and like I said, to bring all the organizations together so that we do a better job of monitoring and have conversations around just violence, senseless violence. What do we do to prevent these things and not be reactive to them but be more proactive,” said Paul Franklin.

That includes seeking permits, which the City of Dallas has pledged to crack down on, along with obtaining insurance and implementing new security measures to protect their community and to make sure everyone gets home safe.

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Dallas Police hopes to crack down on private events

Dallas Police hopes to crack down on private events

Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia is urging city leaders to create a “promoters ordinance” similar to the one in San Jose, where Garcia previously worked.

Why it matters: An ordinance in Dallas would require promoters to get city approval before any event involving more than 100 people.

Driving the news: Garcia spoke Monday to the Public Safety Committee at City Hall, detailing “lessons learned” after two mass shootings at two different concerts in Dallas resulted in two deaths and 27 people injured in the last month.

  • As the law stands, event promoters and property owners likely won’t face criminal charges related to the violence.

Dallas city attorney Christopher J. Caso told the committee that his office has reached out to San Jose to discuss what has worked and what hasn’t with that city’s promoters ordinance.

  • Caso said the city will also meet with promoters to discuss best practices.

Flashback: Last week, Garcia said off-duty DPD officers shouldn’t have been allowed to work at the South Dallas concert and that officers will no longer be allowed to work at any events that don’t have proper city permits.

Zoom in: Several city leaders made reference to “out-of-town promoters” putting on events in Dallas, but Bossman Bubba, the promoter featured on flyers for the concert in South Dallas that led to 17 people injured, lists Dallas as his hometown on social media.

  • He didn’t reply to Axios’ requests for comment.

What they’re saying: “This is important,” Garcia told the committee. “Landowners simply cannot rent out their property and not be held responsible for what happens.”

The intrigue: Dallas Police received approximately 15 calls about the most recent event before the mass shooting, according to Garcia. Most were about road blocks and parking violations.

The bottom line: It’s not clear that a permit for either of these two events would have prevented the shootings.

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Dallas leaders want tougher penalties for unpermitted events after recent mass shootings

Dallas leaders want tougher penalties for unpermitted events after recent mass shootings

After two mass shootings at non-permitted events, the Dallas City Council wants to consider tougher penalties for landowners and promoters who don’t follow the rules.

There have still been no arrests in either mass shooting that left two people dead and dozens injured. 

The Dallas Police Department received seven calls for service before the deadly mass shooting at an unpermitted concert in Southern Dallas.

Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia said why the off-duty officers left the event without telling the supervisors about any issues brewing is still under investigation. 

“The issue really comes from us not knowing there was an event on the day of the tragedy,” he said.

The police chief told council members that the city needs an ordinance to crack down on promoters and property owners who hold large events, like the one on April 2, without getting permits. 

RELATED: No permit issued ahead of Dallas concert shooting that left 1 dead, 16 injured

It was an outdoor concert that became a mass shooting, leaving 16 people injured and one man dead.

Right now, the fine is between $500 and $2,000. For many, it’s a small cost of doing business. 

“If I’m getting paid thousands and all I have to do is pay a $2,000 fine, irresponsible landowners will take that bet every day,” Garcia said. “We need to come up with something that has teeth.”

Councilmembers agreed. 

“You say teeth. I say fangs. I think it needs to hurt,” said Councilmember Gay Donnell Willis. “I would like to see us look at something stronger and more punitive on use that when it turns out to be an unauthorized concert with death. What about criminal?”

“It’s something we will look into,” said city attorney Chris Caso. 

Councilman Tennel Atkins argued if DPD had more neighborhood police officers that they would hear about events like these in advance and put the city in a more proactive position.

“I think we have to build trust,” he said. “When we don’t have NPO officers, they don’t know what is going on. We are short NPO and patrol at South Central.”

RELATED: 18-year-old dies days after mass shooting at South Dallas spring break party

Chief Garcia said the city is short 17 neighborhood police officers right now. 

“There is not a week that one of my three stars is not asking to fill a position. There is not a part of this police department that does not need more support,” he said. “We would love to do more. We would love to have more NPOs because they do a tremendous job. But we need more officers answering 911 calls. We need officers investigating crimes.”

But it can’t be ignored that even the city’s own off-duty police officers working the event left before the shooting without giving a heads-up to supervisors that trouble may have been brewing. 

Dallas leaders working to stop illegal parties in wake of recent mass shootings

Monday, Chief Garcia said the issues surrounding that are still under investigation.   

“We are looking at everything that happened that night. From criminal to administrative to see where we could have done better and where we failed,” he said.

Police said the motive in both recent mass shootings is still unknown. The youngest victim was 13 years old.  One victim from the shooting last week is still in the hospital. 

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“People Trampled on Us,” Woman Who Escaped Deadly Concert Shooting Recalls Events

“People Trampled on Us,” Woman Who Escaped Deadly Concert Shooting Recalls Events

Video from before, during, and after the deadly shooting over the weekend in southeast Oak Cliff continue to circulate on social media as people try to understand what happened at a trial ride and concert.

According to the Dallas Police Department, officers responded to a shooting at an unpermitted trail ride and concert at 5050 Cleveland Road at around 12:13 a.m. Sunday. Promoters for the event called it the “Second Annual Epic Easter Bike Out and Field Party.”

On Monday Dallas Police said 16 people, including three minors, were shot during the concert. Keaton Dejuane Gilmore, 26, was killed in the shooting. Gilmore is reported to have been shot in the head near the stage and died at the scene.

The 15 people injured in the shooting have been identified by Dallas Police as 20-year-old Christian Adams, 22-year-old Jazmin Anderson, 24-year old Randy Davis, 25-year-old Forlando Dean, 29-year-old Breanna Gray, 24-year-old Ashley Jones, 24-year-old Willie Martin, 22-year-old Madison May, 18-year-old Jamal Rylander, 29-year-old Terra Starks, 24-year-old Sebastian Williams and three unnamed juveniles ages 13, 14 and 15.

“I just wish it all would have been prevented,” said Latrice Mollice who attended the event with her boyfriend. She said the entire night was fine until that moment.

Mollice said they were moving closer to the stage for the next musical act when they witnessed the shooting.

“The boy was shooting in the middle of the crowd, and he was shooting in the air first and then he stopped shooting in the air and pointed it towards the crowd and that’s when we all were ducking and taking cover and I seen another person, he was shooting back at the boy. So I don’t know if they were shooting at each other at first or either he was trying to stop him from hurting somebody else, I don’t know,” explained Mollice.

She said the gunshots were coming her way. She said she and her boyfriend crawled and then ran.

“They were still shooting, it was nonstop fire,” said Mollice who had some cuts on her legs, minor injuries she said compared to what could have happened.

Everybody was falling. There were so many people on the ground, you couldn’t tell who was hurt who was not hurt, all you could do was just get up and run yourself.

-Latrice Mollice

“When he started shooting first, the crowd started to move and it was just knocking everybody over, so I got knocked over, my boyfriend got knocked over. When we both got knocked over, people were running on top of us,” described Mollice. “We couldn’t get up, we had to be strong and get up because they were still coming there were so many people they were trampling over everybody. Everybody was falling. There were so many people on the ground, you couldn’t tell who was hurt who was not hurt, all you could do was just get up and run yourself.”

Dallas Police continue to investigate and have not made any arrests yet. DPD Chief Eddie Garcia said the event shouldn’t have happened since organizers did not have a permit.

Garcia said seven off-duty officers were said to be working at the event but that they left before the outbreak of violence. He said they shouldn’t have been working at the event since it was unpermitted.

According to flyers posted by concert promoters, there were supposed to be police along with security. On Sunday the organizer of the event posted a statement via Facebook stating,

“On behalf of the Epic Easter Officials, we are saddened by the unfortunate events that occurred yesterday. Our goal was to organize a positive event for and by our people. We took the necessary steps to offer safety by having Dallas Police officers and security personnel on the scene,” the statement read in part.

“Additionally, emergency officers and vehicles were on standby. However, some things were still out of our control. Our team did not expect a turn out of that capacity, but we truly appreciate the support of all that came & those who traveled to attend. Our prayers and deepest condolences go out to the individuals and families involved.”

Memphis rapper Big Boogie was supposed to be the main headliner at the event. He posted on Instagram that the shooting happened before he arrived.

On Monday a cleaning crew was out at the site removing trash and personal belongings left behind by people who ran.

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These are the 6 best food and drink events in Dallas this week

These are the 6 best food and drink events in Dallas this week

St. Patrick’s Day events dominate this week’s list, including one that’s been running for more than 40 years in downtown Arlington. Don’t forget to wear green. Also on the list is an exclusive wine tasting at a gourmet Italian wine and cheese destination, and an anime event featuring an Asian food festival. For a longer list of St. Patrick’s Day events and specials all week, go here.

Tuesday, March 15

Terra Wine Around at Eataly

Taste more than a dozen hard-to-find wines (not even available on store shelves or restaurant wine lists) during this tasting experience at Eataly in NorthPark Center. Participants will meet wine experts and producers to learn the stories behind the bottles. The $125 per-person tasting comes with chef-paired bites and starts at 6:30 pm.

Thursday, March 17

43rd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Block Party at J. Gilligan’s Bar & Grill

The Metroplex’s biggest day-of St. Patrick’s Day party happens at this time-honored downtown Arlington bar and grill. Hundreds will visit throughout the day for the 43rd edition of this annual tradition. Arrive as early at 11 am for lunch or later at 4 pm when the fun begins outside under tents. There’ll be live music, green beer, and those famous Irish nachos that have featured on Food Network. Note that a cover charge of $6 begins after 6 pm. 

St. Patty’s Day Party at TK’s

This Addison comedy club will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with lots of festivities, including live music, specials on Irish food and drinks, and a scavenger hunt to search for shamrocks and a pot of gold. Menu items will include fish and chips, corned beef sliders, and loaded potato skins. Green beer and Irish car bombs will chase it all down. Arrive as early as 3 pm when the party begins and stay late for comedy acts beginning at 8 pm. (Tickets for the show are $25 or $40 to reserve a table.)

Dublin Downtown St. Patrick’s Day Party at The Statler

The downtown hotel will go green with green beer, green margaritas, and specials on Jameson Irish whiskey at all hotel restaurants and bars, including Scout and Primo’s MX Kitchen & Lounge. But the big party will be in the Statler ballroom, where Emerald City will rock the crowd starting at 8 pm. Tickets start at $19 for general admission, or go VIP with a $59 ticket that comes with a hosted bar of well cocktails, canned brews and house wines. Overnight hotel packages are available for those who wish to stay the night.

Saturday, March 19

Nishi Fest

The anime and Asian pop culture festival will take place at Esports Stadium in Arlington, the largest dedicated esports stadium in North America. Part of the event is an Asian food festival, featuring more than a dozen diverse vendors. Admission starts at $35, and children under 10 are free. Doors open at 10 am the event runs until 9 pm, although there is a separate ticket available for an after-party until 1:30 am.

Shamrocks & Shenanigans at Texas Live!

The Arlington entertainment complex will host a St. Patrick’s Day theme party with live music, drink ticket packages, and gold coin giveaways. Drink ticket packages start at $10 for two drink tokens and go up to $20 for five drink tokens, but expect prices to go up closer to the event. The party starts at 4 pm.