DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings is hoping a rally against domestic violence next month will draw at least 10,000 men to the downtown area.
The mayor is stepping up his campaign to cut down on the 13,000 domestic violence cases that happen in the city every year.
Mayor Rawlings made a rally cry during a press conference Tuesday morning. “I’m calling on men to join me, and every man on stage, on March 23rd (Saturday) at 10 a.m. for a rally at City Hall Plaza,” he said. “Today I’m asking men from all over the region to support our advocacy campaign — we’re calling it “Men Against Abuse, Putting an end to Domestic Violence in Dallas.”
Members of city government, business and religious leaders and athletes joined the mayor on stage. Catholic Diocese of Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell addressed the group. “The recent murders in the city of Dallas, or in the Dallas area, are unfortunately but a microcosm of the national epidemic in which women are abused or die at the hands of a person who was supposed to love them,” he said frankly. “I call on all parents to lead by example and to discuss with their children that violence, bullying and domineering another person is never acceptable and must never be tolerated in our communities.”
Before introducing Dallas Cowboys defensive back Brandon Carr, Mayor Rawlings spoke about how the young man, who just recently signed with the team, came to him and asked how he could positively contribute to the community. Carr began addressing the group by speaking about his personal experience. “Just this past season I lost a teammate of mine and his girlfriend to the same domestic violence. The two individuals that were involved in the incident… it affected more than them,” he said.
Carr, who won an NFC Player of the Week award last season, spoke about the issue of domestic violence from the perspective of an athlete. “This issue has pretty much become the social norm that it’s just okay… that locker room talk, guys will laugh and talk about things. The Internet is pushing this epidemic, this movement of ‘it’s okay to hit women’ and making it just an overall joke.”
Mayor Rawlings made it clear that men in his city need to take a stand. “Collectively we want to say ‘We’ve had enough of our women being disrespected by men and we won’t tolerate it anymore.’”
The Mayor first began speaking about the issue of domestic violence last month, after a Dallas man was arrested for stabbing his wife to death in the parking garage of UT Southwestern Medical Center. Police say victim Karen Smith had had a violent relationship with her estranged husband.
“Words can’t express how I felt… how shocked I was,” said Karen Smith’s brother, Casey Cox. Now, he is among those calling for change—because he, too, was in the dark. “A lot of people don’t have their eyes open to what’s actually going on — and it may be going on in your own family and you may not know about it, unless you’re looking, and you’re asking those questions.”
While the March rally is open and all genders are encouraged to attend, Mayor Rawlings said the event is focused on men because they are such a significant part of the problem.
“I want fathers to bring their sons, because this is undoubtedly a learned behavior and we have an inter-generational reaching moment right here,” the mayor said. “We have a unique opportunity to change the mindset of the next generation in Dallas.”
The press conference was held to also announce that the city has launched the dallasmenagainstabuse.com website. For now the website links to a Facebook page that allows individuals to sign up, committing to attend the rally next month.
Initially, the Men Against Abuse rally was going to be held at Klyde Warren Park but Mayor Rawlings said because of the urgent push by Bishop Farrell, Brandon Carr and supporters like Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach and Dallas Police Chief David Brown, the event had to be moved to a larger venue.
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