The Outsider of Amarillo

February 13, 2008
By Allyssa Parriott, Orangevale, CA

Kids today in this world, are close-minded. If a person dresses differently, others think of you as a "freak"; in nicer words "you're being eccentric". Most adults have no idea what high school life is like for teenagers. They might say that if a person is dressing differently, that they were asking for "unwanted" attention; or maybe they just wanted to stand out or cause that attention. But to the teenagers in high school the way they want to dress, is how they choose to dress; they see themselves as being the normal kids. And to the other kids that see themselves as dressing like today's pop stars, they choose to bully around the other teenagers that choose to dress how they want too.

The punk movement that some people say "is dead" isn't true. Punk still lives on in bands like: Rancid, The Distillers, and the Casualties. There is still a huge following of punk, especially of the teenagers in the United States. Punk rock isn't to be taken lightly at heart. If teenagers listen to punk rock, it's not just a style of music; punk rock is a lifestyle of choice. The style of punk rock isn't what the normal person would probably want to dress like. The typical style of punk is called d.i.y (do it yourself), many teenagers create, or reconstruct, their own clothes to give it a punky edge. Hairstlyes are colored with non-natural hair colors that you couldn't find sitting around in dusty old boxes in the local supermarket.

Born on 1978 at the height of the British punk movement, Brian Deneke was born. He looked like what would be generalized as punk. Mohawk, boots, piercings, torn clothes; he was only one of the small faction that carried on the style of punk rock. The local punk kids in Amarillo, Texas started a gang called "bomb city rats". Brian Deneke was one of the members of this gang. But, just because of his appearance he wasn't a holigan; he "wasn't looking for trouble". He put together concerts for the community to keep the kids out of trouble, anyone that wanted to go could go. He worked at Dynamite Museum, creating amazing art pieces out of rusted, old Cadillacs. In high school, though, it was a different world. Other kids at his high school trashed on him, calling him names, if he walked by some kids would kick muddy water at him. One student asked why he didn't just drop his punk look so he would fit in. Brian Deneke answered back simply, "It's who I am."

There was another gang, a group of jock kids, that Amarillo high school kids called the "whitehats". The whitehats were always causing problems for the group of strangely-dressed kids. (All because they dressed how they wanted too.) On December 12, 1997 orginally going to a concert but short of money Brian and some of his friends went to the local IHOP, and stayed in the parking lot; hanging out and talking. What later happened, would be called pure high school rivalry gone wrong. The two groups often fought, because the two looked and acted different from each other. For several days, there were rumors of planned brawl between the 'punks' and the 'whitehats'. Elise Thompson quoted, "Planned fights never materialized. One side would show up, and everyone gathered in the parking lot, and you got to see all of your friends. It was just a big, fun social event, and that's what I thought was gonna happen." This is where the fight materalized. Chris Oles, John King, Jason Deneke,(Brian's brother,) and Jacqui Balderaz say they saw Brian curled in the fetal position, while the 'whitehats' kicked and beat him. At this time, Dustin Camp (a seventeen year old junior varsity football player) was in his 1983 Cadillac.

According to Elise Thompson, she, Rob Mansfield, and Camp were sitting in Camp's car, in the shopping center parking lot. Mansfield attempted to get out of the car, but Camp slammed on the gas. The large, heavy vehicle struck Brian Deneke. As the Cadiallac ran over Brian Deneke over (the brand of car he loved to turn into art pieces), Thompson recalls Camp saying,"I bet he liked that." Upon police investigation no skid marks, or any other signs that Camp had tried to stop the car, were found. Camp steered the car out of the parking lot and headed home, a future hit-and-run. Deneke's girlfriend, Jennifer Hix, told a reporter what she saw. "I remember after he was hit, there was a cheer. We ran to him as soon as he went down. He was trying to talk, but there was too much blood coming out of his mouth. Jason put his arms around him and held him while he died...All these Christian people were,like, saying prayers, and I said,man, he's dead. He's dead,he's dead,he's dead." Brian Deneke died in the snow, wrapped in his brother's arms and surrounded by his friends. Photographs of the crime scene show him on his side, arms akimbo, his left shoulder torn from its socket. All because Brian Deneke was different..killed for being punk.

During the trial of Dustin Camp, witnesses help up the clothes Brian had been wearing, as if to prove he deserved to die because of his appearance, and vouched for Dustin Camp's integrity...describing him as a 'good kid'. Defense attorneys called Deneke and his friends goons, sociopaths, and thugs. He repeatedly stressed how all-American and 'normal' the defendant was. The tatic of dehumanizing and humiliating the victim worked. The jury convicted Camp of manslaughter. He was sentenced to ten years' prohabtion and a ten thousand dollar fine, also probated. Should this crime be right, can the law ignore that a murder was done, but the suspect still gets to see the sunlight, still gets freedom; while his victim is dead and lies in the ground? All because the victim wasn't "normal", because he choose to live and dress differently from another person? Brian Deneke died for being different, he died for being 'a punker', to all the teens that choose to dress differently, we salute Brian Deneke for being who he was, and not just trying to fit in to be 'popular'.

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