The PONGers and the Super Happy Fun America-nites have had to scale back their planned Straight Pride event, which had been scheduled for Dallas’ City Hall Plaza tomorrow, because they couldn’t afford to (or didn’t want to) pay for the necessary permits, according to posts on Facebook last night.
A spokesperson for the DFW Anti-Fascist League, which had planned a counter-protest alongside the Straight Pride event, said Friday morning that group was planning to show up anyway.
Teresa Stephens Richenberger of Longview, the force behind Protecting Our Next Generation and main organizer for the event, posted last night that the PONG parade “is going to be postponed to a later date” because “At the last minute the city of Dallas price gouged us and asked for enormous amounts of money” to issue the permits necessary for the event and to pay for off-duty Dallas police officers to provide security, as required by city statutes.
But, Richenberger promised, in all caps, “WE ARE NOT BACKING DOWN; NEW DATE COMING SOON …. AND WE ARE NOT RUNNING.”
A little later though on the Super Happy Fun America FB page, a representative for that group — the group that hosted the Straight Pride Parade earlier this year in Boston, at which Richenberger spoke — someone posted that SHFA reps were already in Dallas, and they “WILL do a meet and greet” tonight (Friday, Nov. 15) and “some kind of public event on Saturday,” with details to follow.
The SHFA post claimed that the PONGers are being “unfairly treated by city officials in Dallas. However, we are working with them to possibly do a scaled back event without a permit. We have a right under the First Amendment to engage in free speech activities with or without” a permit.
The post continued, “We apologize for the short notice, but unfortunately Democrat controlled cities do not respect the free speech rights of all citizens. SHFA organizers have learned a lot doing free speech activities in Boston over the last 2 years and will be lending our experience to groups like Protect our Next Generations. We won the fight in Boston and the fight in Dallas is just beginning. All Democrat controlled cities are on notice. You will not silence us!”
Perhaps the PONGers and the SHFAers should have checked with the folks over at Transgender Pride of Dallas, which had to “scale back” its Pride is a Protest event last June 2. That group, led by Jayla Wilkerson, had planned to hold a rally on City Hall Plaza before marching to Fair Park to participate in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, held there this year for the first time.
TPD had to switch their plans to a brief gathering on the sidewalk, protected by the First Amendment, after Wilkerson learned that in addition to the $75 permit application fee, the group would have to pay about $800 for security, for a half-million-dollar insurance policy and other costs — a total that was far too much to ask of “a marginalized community using an outdoor, publicly accessible space (a traditional public forum) to exercise our rights, which are protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, for 30 minutes on a Sunday morning,” Wilkerson said.
(Wilkerson also noted that even if TPD had the money to cover those costs, it would have been “unethical to spend it on such fees rather than on food, clothing and shelter for transgender people in need.”)
So, just for the record, to the PONGers and the SHFAers — Nope. You aren’t being treated unfairly by liberal Democrats intent on suppressing your First Amendment rights. You are just being held to the same standards and rules that other groups — including LOCAL groups who want to use LOCAL city facilities that their LOCAL taxes pay for — are required to follow. Stop whining, and either pay up or go home.
— Tammye Nash