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Rawlings Announces March 23 Rally Against Domestic Violence

Dallas’ alpha males assembled today at the Dallas Museum of Art’s Horchow Auditorium to join Mayor Rawlings in formally announcing his 10,000 Men Rally Against Domestic Violence, which is scheduled for Saturday, March 23, at 10 a.m., at Dallas City Hall Plaza. Flanked by city councilmen, faith leaders, school officials, business leaders, and local celebrities—including Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith—Mayor Rawlings indicted a culture that tolerates violence against women and called for men to stand together to bring about change.

Rawlings echoed statements he has made over the past month, declaring domestic violence “a men’s issue because men are the ones doing it” and demanding a “zero-tolerance” approach to abusers, whom he called “cowards” and men with a “caveman-like attitude.” Zero-tolerance means ostracizing abusers, Rawlings argued, for this is the way to change a societal mindset that dismisses violence against women as “a joke.” He called on men of all ages, races, and professions to participate in the March 23 rally, but he emphasized that fathers should bring their sons in order to make the rally a “teaching moment.”

Others voiced their support at the press conference, including Bishop Kevin Farrell of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas; Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr; Dallas Market President of Capital One Bank Jorge Calderon; Dallas ISD Board President Lew Blackburn; and Casey Cox, brother of a domestic violence victim. Bishop Farrell (who is not in the running for Pope, he assured) commended Mayor Rawlings for his leadership in bringing an end to what he called a “national epidemic.” Carr spoke briefly about losing former Kansas City teammate Jovan Belcher and Belcher’s girlfriend to a domestic violence murder-suicide and acknowledged his responsibility as a professional athlete and role model to take a stand against domestic violence. Blackburn spoke of the need to inculcate in young boys a respect for women at an early age and pledged to bring 1,000 male students to the March 23 rally.

In prior conversations, Rawlings had indicated Klyde Warren Park as the site for the rally, but he stated today that his office decided to change the location to City Hall Plaza in order to accommodate more people. Notable personalities are expected to participate in the rally, including Aikman, Smith, Carr, Jason Witten, Roger Staubach, Dale Hansen, Police Chief David Brown, Fire Chief Louie Bright, congressman, city councilmen, Bishop Farrell, and Bishop T.D. Jakes, among others. Big Brothers and the Boy Scouts will also participate.

Questions remain, however, as to how the Mayor’s Office will translate the enthusiasm of a rally into on-the-ground results in reducing the city’s 13,000 yearly reported cases of domestic violence. In an earlier interview, Paula Blackmon, Rawlings’ Chief of Staff, noted that the March 23 event is “not just a rally…It’s a movement.” But when asked today about how his office intends to actually curtail domestic violence—besides attempting to “change the culture”—Rawlings admitted: “We’ve got to put together a plan.”

Farraz Khan is a D Magazine intern.