This week's roundup of Dallas news includes a new Juneteenth festival at Fair Park, as well as a new Fair Park fund-raising campaign led by some high-profile names. The Dallas Police Department is examining its low-level arrests and their impact on racial injustice. And Dallas' convention center has become a shelter for migrants seeking asylum.
Here's what happened in Dallas this week:
Police arrest analysis
An analysis of arrest data from the Dallas Police Department Open Portal found that Black people in Dallas are disproportionately arrested for misdemeanor low-level offenses.
The analysis was conducted by the City of Dallas Office of Community Police Oversight in partnership with Leadership Conference Education Fund's New Era of Public Safety Initiative to track misdemeanor, low-level enforcement on Black, Latino, and marginalized communities. The Dallas Police Department makes nearly 6,000 arrests for low-level offenses every year.
According to the findings, which are posted at Dallascityhall.com/OCPO, misdemeanor enforcement creates unnecessary and negative interactions between police and civilians and contributes to racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
The need to address inequities within police departments has been amplified since 2020, when the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and others sparked protests in Dallas and across the country.
Director of the Office of Community Police Oversight Tonya McClary said in a statement that "changes to City ordinances and DPD’s General Orders can aid in Dallas' efforts to decriminalize people of color and other marginalized communities for low-level offenses."
To that end, DPD Chief Eddie Garcia recently enacted a new policy to stop arrests for possession of two ounces or less of marijuana.
Migrant emergency center
Thousands of migrant teenage boys seeking asylum in the U.S. are being sheltered at Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, which has been turned into an emergency center for the next 90 days. The U.S. Health and Human Services Department opened the shelter to take the strain off the U.S. Border Patrol.
The boys are unaccompanied minors, ages 15-17, who were being kept in small holding cells at the border not designed to incarcerate people for more than a few hours.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tried to get access to the teens, supposedly to ferret out human trafficking cases, but Biden administration officials shut that right down, out of concern that the children would be traumatized by having to repeat their stories over and over.
On the flipside of helpfulness, the Dallas Mavericks delivered portable basketball hoops and basketballs to the convention center for the immigrant teens.
Fair Park funding
Fair Park First, the nonprofit charged with management of Fair Park, has launched a fundraising campaign with some big names signed on to help: The Honorable and Mrs. George W. Bush will serve as Honorary Chairs, while Ambassador Ron Kirk and his wife Matrice, along with Margo Ramirez Keyes and Jim Keyes, will serve as Unity Co-Chairs.
In partnership with Spectra, Fair Park First is tasked with restoring, revitalizing, and renewing Fair Park, retaining its educational, entertainment, and cultural activities while creating fountains, splash parks, and Texas landscapes to transform Fair Park into a year-round destination.
The "Fair Park, Your Park Capital Campaign" will look to raise $85 million for Phase 1 which includes creating an 11-acre community park, converting 400,000 square feet of concrete and parking into 17 acres of green space and a 1.3-acre Gateway Park.
The Blair Foundation and Elite News will host the inaugural Juneteenth Celebration, March, and Festival on Saturday, June 19. It'll begin at William Blair Jr. Park with a three-and-a-half-mile march, and end at Fair Park with a festival featuring a Negro League Baseball exhibit, hair show, and concert. It's free and open to the public.
"We are proud to bring new events to the campus that embrace and reflect the history and culture of the communities that we serve," says Brian Luallen, Executive Director of Fair Park First, in a release. "We hope that we continue to host a Juneteenth celebration for many years to come."
Dallas Area Rapid Transit is conducting a fare equity survey beginning March 22, and running through mid-May. DART bus, rail, and Trinity Railway Express (TRE) customers who participate will answer questions on demographic information and details about their use of public transportation including fare payment and trip-making behaviors.
Survey staff will be at rail station and transit centers as well as ride buses and trains. They'll be wearing blue vests with a badge indicating DART and TRE logos, and labeled "SURVEY TEAM" on the back. All surveys are completely voluntary, and answers will be kept confidential.Participants are eligible for a $500 Visa Cash Card for their time.