Ten Year Anniversary
Published on December 5, 2007 By Larry Kuperman In Current Events
Thanks to my son, Jon, for making me aware of this.

According to the witness, the driver of the Cadillac said "I'm a ninja in my Caddy" and then ran Brian Deneke down.

The date was December 12th, 1997. The place was Amarillo, Texas. The driver of the car, who would be convicted for the murder, was Dustin Camp. Dustin was an athlete, a high school football player and a "clean cut" kid. His lawyer kept on stressing how clean cut he was at his trial. It must have worked, because Dustin got 10 years probation and a $10,000 fine. (He would violate his probation in 2001 and end up serving 5 years of an 8 year sentence, but that is another story.)

Brian was a punk.

He started off as a skater, became attracted to punk music and soon affected the dress and style of the alternative culture. He was thrown out of the Boy Scouts for being different and the Scout Master punted Brian's skate board across the yard. That would be brought up at Dustin Camp's trial to show how "different" Brian was.

Kids in the main-stream culture of Amarillo, what they called the "white hats" for their fondness for wearing college athletic caps, found Brian a likely target. He looked different and was non-vilolent. According to the Houston Press "Intimidation had become such a fixture in Deneke's life that he'd earned the nicknames "Punch," as in human punching bag, and "Fist Magnet."

Brian's father said "He took a lot of verbal and physical abuse from people. We tried to explain to him that if you dress that way, have your hair that way, people are gonna act negative towards you, and that's just the way it is."

"And he said it's not right, they shouldn't. And he's right, they shouldn't. But people do."

The jock versus punk hatred and violence is nothing new. Not even how the violence escalated into murder. People have always attacked other people for being different. Brian could have been attacked and killed for being a Jew, a Christian, a racial minority or a homosexual. There probably isn't a group around today that hasn't been a victim at one time or another in their history.

But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't hold memorials. Maybe we need MORE memorials to hold back the hate.

There are memorial concerts all over. You can visit the Brian Deneke website at Link or Wikipedia at Link

My son's band among others is playing at the Blind Pig Ann Arbor (see Link) starting at 10 PM.

Maybe I'll see you there....I'll be the old man trying to stay awake.


on Dec 05, 2007
Clean cut means EVERYTHING in North Texas, where long hair means you're a bum, a thug, or worse.

I don't get why people feel so free to rationalize the actions of bigots, and more importantly, why more people aren't absolutely outraged by the "blame the victim" mentality that still pervades cases like Deneke's.
on Dec 05, 2007
why more people aren't absolutely outraged by the "blame the victim" mentality that still pervades cases like Deneke's.

Because it is not them:

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Martin Niemoeller
on Dec 05, 2007
Thank you, Gideon, for your comment.

Here's a great link for a beautifully written article in the Houston Press: Link

An interesting follow up note- Brian's parents have, as I understand it, endowed a skate park for public use, because Brian loved skating.

There are some great videos on YouTube and you can here Brian's music (not my cup of tea, but it wasn't written for me!) at Link

on Dec 05, 2007
And thank you, Dr. Guy, for posting the Niemoeller poem. It was what I had in mind.

Again, I want to thank my son Jon for making me aware of this and for letting me know that there are bands all across the country that are playing in memoriam. They are making this day into one of hope.
on Dec 05, 2007
I just found that our esteemed colleague, Texas Wahine, had posted a wonderful article on Brian's death at Link

It is well worth the read.