Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, who contributed money to the Mitt Romney campaign in the 2012 election, made an emotional plea at a press conference at Dallas City Hall on Monday, addressing what he calls the “tree of violence” that includes domestic violence. After a couple of years of listening to a lot of people play the “blame the victim” game, it was refreshing for me to hear Mayor Rawlings say, “It’s our fault. It’s not the women’s fault.”
Backing him up are Dallas Police Chief David Brown and domestic violence victim advocates. Chief Brown says that Dallas has seen a drastic increase in domestic violence homicides in the last year. There were ten in 2011 and 26 in 2012. The city investigates 18-20 domestic violence cases per day (10,000 per year). According to Brown, 13,000 offenses are reported per year, with 4,000 of those filed on people who acted in a violent way toward an intimate partner.
Police say Ferdinand Smith, the man accused last week of killing his estranged wife, Karen Cox Smith, in a UT Southwestern Medical Center parking garage, was wanted on domestic violence charges at the time of the murder.
Domestic violence in Dallas is a ”troubling trend we cannot tolerate,” Rawlings says in a video interview.
“If we don’t do something about it, we are to blame.”
Rawlings has asked for an honest discussion on mental illness, but most of the 30-minute press conference focused on tackling the city’s domestic violence problem through increased collaboration between agencies and individual residents.
“We want to make it known that any violent act toward a woman will not be tolerated by the men in the city,” Rawlings said. [Source]
Rawlings has specific plans for the city to“redouble those efforts,” and has asked Chief Brown to “dial up to the next level.” Councilwoman Delia Jasso will lead a task force to increase a domestic violence educational awareness program for the Dallas Independent School District (DISD). The program will help make victims aware of options and resources to “get out.” Plans are also in place to develop a family intervention/recovery plan and “address capacity issues at local shelters.”
He announced a task force of 100 officers to serve domestic violence warrants quickly.
“And I’m asking that these warrants be given the highest priority, along with murders in this city,” Rawlings said. “This is not going to be at the bottom of the heap — we’re going to take it right to the top.” [Source]
The mayor comes right out and says that men are “a violent gender over the centuries.” He blames video games, radio talk shows, and lessons taught at home from fathers who perpetuate a culture of violence. I’d like to point out to Mayor Rawlings that we haven’t had video games and radio talk shows “over the centuries,” but I won’t. I”m optimistic that finally something is being done and that people are recognizing that though men also suffer abuse, women have always been the most vulnerable. [Source]
The mayor is calling on the men of Dallas to stand up against domestic violence with a public awareness campaign that will include a rally this spring and a mental health symposium. Rawlings’ goal is to “to change the male culture” in Dallas. He has an executive team already in place and it will include Bishop T.D. Jakes of The Potter’s House, State Representative Rafael Anchia, Dallas Cowboys Jason Witten, and Marco Rivera.
“They’ll stand with me in saying enough is enough,” Rawlings said. “We will reinforce that hitting women is not acceptable, and we will learn how to intervene when we see it taking place.” [Source]
I am an unapologetic member of the Christian Left, and have spent a lot of time working with “the least of these” and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. I’m passionate about their struggles. To stay on top of topics I discuss, subscribe to my public updates on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me via LinkedIn. I also have a grossly neglected blog. Find me somewhere and let’s discuss stuff.