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More than 100 attend anti-hate demonstration after troublesome weekend

More than 100 people attended the “Hate Has No Home in Denton County” demonstration Tuesday night on the downtown Square following a weekend that saw reports of a bar manager being assaulted and called an anti-Semitic slur and members of a white nationalist organization demonstrating outside another nightclub.

The demonstration offered attendees the opportunity to speak about hate, how it affects Denton, and how people can combat hate through various outlets such as working with community organizations.

“This event was intended as a meeting place, not to solve anything in an hour and a half,” said Catherine Giles, a resident who organized the event. “What I would like is for the community to build upon that.”

Denton City Council members Paul Meltzer and Deb Armintor both spoke at the demonstration.

Mark Finley / Al Key/For the DRC  

Attendees chant slogans against hate while marching around the Courthouse on the Square, to conclude Tuesday evening’s “Hate Has No Home in Denton County” demonstration.

“Hate wants to break the human connection that binds us all together in community,” Meltzer said. “That’s not Denton. We are a community always striving to overcome, to include, to celebrate each other. Hate has no place when we celebrate everybody, every culture, every ability, every personal expression, every person.”

During his time at the microphone, Meltzer encouraged everyone in the crowd to hold hands with one another and say, “I celebrate you.”

Armintor began her remarks by thanking the attendees for coming.

“Thank you for standing out here and being here and showing people that Denton will not tolerate fascism, Denton will not tolerate Nazism, Denton will not tolerate racism,” Armintor said. “When we do that, when we stand out, we can help make Denton feel safer for everybody, except Nazis.”

With attendees invited to speak, more than 10 took the microphone to give their perspectives on hatred.

Anjelica Fraga, a community organizer, began her remarks by saying that “to declare that hate has no home in Denton is both a lie and is an erasure of our history.”

“Directly behind you is a testament to the legacy of racism in our town,” she said, referring to the Confederate soldier monument on the Courthouse on the Square lawn. “Not only that but our current elected officials support keeping the structure up. The bare minimum we could do is remove it.”

Many attendees carried signs with messages like “Love not hate,” “No space for hate” and “Reject white supremacy.” There was also police presence at the event, with Police Chief Frank Dixon present and many officers stationed around the courthouse and on its balconies.

There were no counterprotests at the demonstration.

After the speaker portion of the event ended around 8 p.m., attendees marched around the courthouse twice, chanting, “Equality for all, Denton for all.” The event officially ended after all the attendees yelled, “Reject white supremacy!”

State says shingle pile owner has no permit to recycle in Denton

State environmental officials confirmed earlier this week that the newly registered owner of a shingle pile in eastern Denton has no recycling permit for the location.

A company with ties to the troubled “Shingle Mountain” in southern Dallas registered its interest in a Denton parcel with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in April.

“Any shingles at that site may only be removed,” TCEQ spokesman Brian McGovern wrote in an email to the Denton Record-Chronicle. “Shingles from offsite sources may only be brought onto the Denton site when the owner has received proper authorization through a recycling notification.”

Chris Ganter of CCR Equity Holdings Five LLC has said the company has “zero intention” of accepting new materials at the Denton site. CCR Equity Holdings One LLC and its operator, Blue Star Recycling, have been ordered by a Dallas district court to remove a 55,000-ton heap of roofing waste from a parcel in South Dallas. Blue Star has since closed. The heap in Dallas is so tall and long it can be seen by motorists on Interstate 45, earning it the nickname “Shingle Mountain.”

If that status in Denton changed, state environmental officials said they would evaluate any application for recycling in Denton “to ensure shingles are properly managed and that shingles from the Dallas site are not brought to the Denton site without a proper recycling process and an end-market in place,” McGovern wrote.

State environmental officials did not notify the city of Denton or the county of the registration, since it was not required at this stage, McGovern said.

While the site is just outside the city limits, Denton has an interest, and jurisdiction, in protecting the watershed. The site’s listed location is in the 5100 block of East University Drive, but is actually along the banks of the Elm Fork of the Trinity River and the north shore of Lewisville Lake, a source of Denton’s drinking water.

Kenneth Banks, director of utilities, said the city asked for more information from the state and is watching the latest developments.

“We can do a lot with stormwater regulations inside the city limits,” Banks said. “But once it’s outside, we fall back on the state.”

The county fire marshal’s office is also monitoring developments, according to Hugh Coleman, Denton County commissioner for Precinct 1.

He sent an email Monday to the county fire marshal, Jody Gonzalez, asking for an investigation. In reply, Gonzalez assured Coleman that they would.

“We will forward our findings to the TCEQ as this type operation is within their authority. They have civil penalties and processes that we do not have authority to enforce,” Gonzalez wrote.

DRC file photo 

In a photo from Aug 4, 2018, fire departments from around Denton County respond to a junk pile that caught fire in the 5100 block of East University Drive. Explosions were heard coming from inside the blaze, forcing firefighters to take a more defensive approach.

On Aug. 4 of last year, a large fire burned brush, a small storage building and junk pile in the area, but it did not ignite or threaten the shingle pile, according to Denton Fire Chief Kenneth Hedges.

“The shingle pile was 100 yards farther to the south of the actual fire,” Hedges said, adding that a gravel road between the fire and the pile served as a fire break to contain the blaze.

Multiple departments responded to the fire, which had to be fought on the defensive after explosions were heard coming from within. Black smoke billowed into the sky for several hours as different patches burst into flames. The fire started sometime early that afternoon, and firefighters were still onsite into the evening. Some of the work included shuttling water to the property to fight the fire.

At start of break, Burgess sticks up for Trump in home district

LEWISVILLE — U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess said he does not think Donald Trump went too far when the president called Rep. Elijah Cummings’ Baltimore home district “rat infested” and one of the “worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States,” calling it “FAR WORSE and more dangerous” than the U.S. border with Mexico.

In a series of tweets and statements, the president has criticized Cummings in what many are saying is a racist attack against a Democratic congressman and his predominantly black district.

Asked by a constituent at a town hall meeting in Lewisville on Tuesday night if he wishes the president would stop making such remarks, Burgess said no, and that Trump did the right thing.

“No, I think the president acted appropriately, defending his acting secretary of homeland security who was being berated as a witness in a congressional hearing,” said Burgess, R-Pilot Point.

The overall point of the constituent’s question was to ask why Burgess, and Republican Congress members in general, are rarely heard condemning the president.

“You’re silent, you don’t say anything,” the man said.

During Tuesday’s meeting at Westside Baptist Church, every person who stood in line to ask a question got time to ask it. The congressman extended the scheduled one-hour town hall to roughly an hour and a half to allow everybody to ask a question (or make a statement). That’s not to say the congressman answered everybody’s questions, at least in the way they had hoped.

Burgess has already said he would not have voted for House Resolution 489, which condemned Trump’s other racist tweets earlier this month, when the president told Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back” where they came from. Burgess was in Dallas for a funeral the day of that vote.

At the start of his summer recess for the month of August, Burgess was back in North Texas on Tuesday, and on another issue fell in line with Trump. The congressman said he will not be among the growing number of lawmakers who are calling for an impeachment inquiry into Trump.

One constituent asked Burgess specifically why the 10 possible instances in which Trump may have obstructed justice, according to special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, do not warrant impeachment.

Jeff Woo/DRC  

U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Pilot Point, listens to a question from a constituent during a town hall meeting Tuesday in Lewisville.

“To answer your first question,” Burgess said, “I will not be joining those people who are asking for an inquiry. I don’t believe that it happened.”

Burgess’ belief in what is happening versus what’s being reported extended to the immigration debate as well Tuesday night.

The congressman recently visited the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol facility in Clint. After Democrats, child legal advocates and journalists from independent news outlets toured the facility and reported major health and hygiene concerns for the migrant children detained there, Burgess went himself and reported seeing no poor conditions.

“It just seems questionable when so many news outlets are reporting this,” one constituent on Tuesday said to Burgess, who was talking about how the conditions inside Clint and other facilities are good enough for the migrants.

“The reason I went to Clint was, yeah, it was disturbing report — is this accurate?” Burgess said. “My understanding, after going there, the reporters who went to Clint only interviewed children in the conference room … but they did not walk the facility, and I did. And what I saw was entirely different than what’s been reported.”

“There’s something wrong with that!” one person yelled from the crowd.