On Saturday Night In Deep Ellum, A Group Armed With 40-Oz. Beers Walked From Bar To Bar To Protest The Neighborhood’s Changes.
Presumably because they thought it was just a joke or perhaps another excuse to party, more than 3,000 people let Facebook know they were interested in an event called The Deep Ellum 40 Oz. Walk this past Saturday night.
In the end, maybe a dozen or so people actually showed up, intent on participating in the event’s actual cause of bringing attention to concerns over the neighborhood’s gentrification by mocking its wine and mimosa walks.
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It’s easy to see where that confusion came from: Created by Deep Ellum regular Eduardo Martinez, and promoted by his friend and artist Ricardo Paniagua, the initial description on the Facebook event page teetered somewhere between satire and seriousness, with promises of bags of Bugles and whippits for all attendees, and admonitions against littering for this “leave no trace event.”
There were no details on how to purchase tickets or how to even attend it, with no clear cut set of goals posted until the day of the event itself, when Paniagua gave more insight into what the group hoped to accomplish.
“We’re not trying to be anti-anything, but this is a statement,” Paniagua said later that night, as he and some of likeminded protesters inspired by his postings began gathering at the location he finally revealed earlier in the afternoon. “This is the people’s community. (The gentrifiers) didn’t make this a desirable cultural experience. All they’re doing with their privilege is making money.”
As much as we hear constant gripes against gentrification, we very rarely we see people take to the streets in a way that affects gentrifiers in the same way they affect the neighborhoods they inhabit. But this group set out to do just that. Its walk began at the behemoth apartment construction project at the end of Main Street, and ended down on Commerce Street near Dot’s Hop House, with stops, 40s in hand, in front of key spaces around Deep Ellum that participants felt were among the biggest perpetrators of change in the neighborhood. Along the way, cars honked their approval, photo-bombers gave their thumbs-up and some additional attendees even joined along in the festivities. Even some restaurant owners and the homeless people most affected by the changes showed their support.
No, thousands may not have participated in the event. But it still succeeded in starting a conversation with its intended audience. And, organizers say, they hope their walk will lead to more actions like it.
“I’m not a social activist, but this stuff really pisses me off,” Paniagua says. “I know I have the power to do this, so I’m going to do this.”