By Sonya Harvey
Sometimes, it takes losing a life to create awareness.
In 1997, what many considered a hate crime resulted in the death of a 19-year-old named Brian Deneke.
Deneke lived in the Texas Panhandle town of Amarillo, where he and his friends liked to skate and listen to hardcore punk music.
Deneke, also known as “Sunshine” by his friends in the local punk scene, sported a faded blue mohawk and leather jacket.
They were different, and as a result, they were considered outcasts in a town full of high school football players and jocks.
There had been constant name-calling in the halls of Amarillo and Tascosa high schools, and it was common for fights to break out between the two groups.
About 11:30 p.m. Dec. 12, 1997, Deneke and his friends were hanging out in an International House of Pancakes parking lot when a fight that would end in tragedy broke out.
Dustin Camp, a 17-year-old junior varsity football player at Tascosa High School, got behind the wheel of his 1983 Cadillac and jumped a median, running over and killing Deneke.
Camp was charged with manslaughter and received 10 years probation and a $1,000 fine.
“A Night for Brian Deneke,” a tribute concert, will be from 6 p.m.-2 a.m. Dec. 8 at The Roadhouse Saloon, 6159 FM 78.
DJs Anthony Prater and Dina Hernandez, who host Punk Rock 101 on KSYM 90.1 FM from 9 p.m.-11 p.m. Tuesdays, got together with The Roadhouse Saloon and New Goon Productions to help organize the event.
“This hits close to home because that’s the kind of scene I’m into,” Prater said. “I guess Brian was just a nonconformist in a conservative town, and what happened was unfortunate.”
The goal of the event is to encourage tolerance, dialogue and civilized respect for different lifestyles and perspectives, and at the same time, discourage violence and prevent acts of retaliation.
“I hate the word tolerance. I prefer the word acceptance,” Prater said. “Tolerating them isn’t enough; people should accept others regardless of their appearance or likes and dislikes.”
To honor the memory of Deneke, the event is sponsored in cities throughout the United States and Canada, and features local and national punk bands — music Deneke liked to listen to.
Musical guests will include Graded By X, The Dreadnauts, The Dirty Hacks, Terrible Teardrops, Silent Minority, Sewer Rats, Pavel Demon and The Revenant, Second To None, Filthy, The Muffdivers, The Dementers, The Dispicables and Deneke’s favorite band, Destroy Everything.
The event is $10 at the door or $5 with a new unwrapped toy to be donated to Toys For Tots.
Proceeds will go to the National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children and the Esperanza Center for Peace & Justice.
For more information, contact Prater at email@example.com or go to www.briandeneke.org.