BRIAN Deneke `died fighting for what he believed in'
"Be strong. Brian was strong."
Those words were the common thread binding hearts at a vigil service Tuesday evening for Brian Deneke, who died Friday during a fight in the Western Plaza Shopping Center parking lot.
After the formal portion of the wake, dozens of people climbed up on the flower-laden platform at St. Mary's Catholic Church to read letters and poems or just speak of favorite memories.
Deneke, 19, who worked for Stanley Marsh 3 and the Dynamite Museum, was well known for his spiked Mohawk and "punk" attire.
His look sometimes led to problems, said Keith Grays, a civic leader who met Deneke through Marsh.
When Deneke told Grays that security officers at Westgate Mall had "harassed" him because of his appearance, Grays took Deneke and a friend on a shopping trip, he said.
When the group was approached by mall security, Grays said he just told the officer to "back off."
"We were human beings in the mall to shop. And we shopped in peace that day," Grays said.
Paula Clawson, who attended Amarillo High School with Deneke, said she saw other students repeatedly splash Deneke with muddy water as he was walking back from lunch one day. When she asked him why he didn't drop the punk look, he told her, "It's me."
"I respected him so much," Clawson said, "because he did not change. He changed me."
Many of Deneke's friends expressed the sentiment that he "died fighting for what he believed in" and that Deneke would want them to "treat other people as human beings."
Friends honor victim of fight between groups of teens
Young people quietly filled St. Mary's Catholic Church on Wednesday morning for the funeral of Brian Deneke.
Deneke, 19, died late Friday after being struck by a car in the Western Plaza Shopping Center parking lot in an altercation that allegedly involved "punks" and "preps," according to police reports and the accounts of witnesses.
Metal jangled softly against black leather as one group of mourners walked from the back of the church to the front pews. Businessmen's heads bowed next to those bearing colored and spiked hair.
Monsignor Francis Smyer spoke from the Gospel of John.
"We see death as difficult," Smyer said. "Brian is, in many ways, still with us."
The mourners left the church quietly after the service, some stopping to embrace and encourage each other. Many of them gathered just outside the door to talk and smoke.
On Saturday, the day after Deneke's death, Dustin Michael Camp, 17, was arrested and charged in connection with Deneke's death. Camp was released later the same day from the Potter County Detention Center after posting a $100,000 bond, according to a detention center spokeswoman.
No other charges have been filed in connection with the fight, but investigators from the Potter-Randall Special Crimes Unit continue to interview participants and other witnesses.
"We've got so many kids that were out there . . . and we're still talking to kids," said Lt. Ed Smith, coordinator of Special Crimes. "We're still investigating. We're still trying to get all the witnesses.
"The people we talked to said they saw 15 to 25 kids fighting, and there may have been more," Smith said. "And there were a lot of people standing around and a lot of other people in their vehicles."
Smith also said that witnesses and participants have alleged that youths from both sides of the fight were armed with weapons such as clubs. At least one person injured that night had to be treated at a local emergency room, but Smith said he has not been able to talk to that person.
Students and former students from Tascosa High School and Amarillo High School were involved, and students from several other local high schools allegedly also were at the fight.
Since Deneke's death, allegations that both sides intend revenge and retribution have surfaced and resurfaced.
Additional police officers have been patrolling outside Amarillo High School and Tascosa High School, but no additional security was placed inside. AHS cluster director David Cargill said additional security might be considered for school events.
"We're going to do our best to keep anyone else from getting hurt," said Col. Robert Francis, assistant chief of police. "We're following up and having officers present.
"So far, it's been quiet," Francis said. "I think the worst part is there's just so many rumors. That's what most of it is."
Globe-News Staff Writers Ricky George and Kris Kelly contributed to this report.
Remembering Brian Deneke Who Died In 1997Because A Jock Ran Him Over In Amarillo Texas.
This page is in tribute to Brian Deneke, and all others who are abused and harrassed and who have suffered because they dared to be different, because they refused to conform to jockish society, and because they had the courage to be themselves. Who was Brian Deneke? Well, he was just some teenager who was into punk rock, and aside from his freakish apperence, he was basically a good person. He loved animals, and he often did volunteer work. Brian was the type of person who helped others. He volunteered at kitchens, helped build places for bands to stay while in town, and various other activities. He was an all around good kid who's parents were proud of him. Brian Deneke, age 19, worked for Stanley Marsh and the Dynamite Museum, and he was well known for his spiked Mohawk and "punk" attire. His look sometimes led to problems, said Keith Grays, a civic leader who met Deneke through Marsh. Brian can easily be described as a non-conformist, individualist, free spirt, un-willing to fit into the cookie cutter the world has provided for us as to what "normal" is. Brian was a friend, a son, a brother and now an inspiration to many. Brian was a punk who gave his life for just a little bit of individuality. Then On December 12th, 1997 in Amarillo, Texas, Brian was struck and killed, no MURDERED, by Dustin Camp, age 17, with a 1983 Cadillac. Dustin Camp was part of the gang known as "Whitehats" or preps. He was also a JV football player. Brian had been constantly under verbal, and physical attack from the jocks. Approximately 40 jocks were against 8 or so punks on the day that Brian Deneke was murdered! On the night Brian died, the "Punks" and "Whitehats" were in a parking lot. There was a rivalry because they looked different. On this night the rivalry exploded to baseball bats and fists. The punks were outnumbered 3 to 1. Dustin Camp was intoxicated and ran over Brian. A girl who was in Camp's care, later valedvictorian of her class, testified against Camp. She said that after hitting and knocking over one of Brian's friends he said "I'm a ninja in my caddy" jumped a median, and ran over Brian leaving him mangled and for dead. He did not leave skid marks or any sign that he tried to avoid Brian. While leaving, Camp said "I'll bet he liked that." Brian's girlfriend remembers that there was a cheer after he was hit and all the punks ran to him. There was blood coming out of his mouth and his brother Jason held him as he died.
Brian was lying in the snow, wrapped in his brother's arms and surrounded by his friends, when he died. Photographs of the crime scene show him on his side, his arms twisted. His front teeth are broken, the left side of his face gashed. His left shoulder has been torn from its socket. An autopsy showed that Deneke's skull, spine, pelvis, and ribs had been completely crushed. During the trial, Dustin Camp's defense was that Brian was anti-social, had violent tendencies (supposedly evidenced by images of punk shows where a pit had formed), and that Dustin did a good thing for society and prevented eventual murder or homicide on Brian's behalf by putting an end to Brian's life. During the trial, witnesses held 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'. The people in Amarillo were the type to judge by brand name clothes. If you wore something different, you were scum. The jury knew this. Justin was the perfect kid. He was on the football team, went to church, came from a well to do family. Who could possibly convict a kid like this? Defense attorneys called Deneke and his friends, goons, sociopaths, and thugs. He repeatedly stressed how all-American and 'normal' the defendant was. The defense gave the impression that Brian was "rebelious outsider that from the age of 13 engage in anti-social then violent behavior who was ultimately destined for his own demise." But the fact is, that Brian had a diverse population of friends, He knew the president of the NAACP, and every minority you could think of. All of these people showed up at his funeral, stating that Brian was a good person, and were devistated by his death.
Brian Deneke was murdered because he dared to be different!
The tactic of dehumanizing and humiliating the victim worked. The jury convicted Camp of manslaughter. He was sentenced to ten years' probation and a ten thousand dollar fine, also probated. Dustin Camp would never have to pay a dime for killing Brian Deneke. Justin was tried for his crime two YEARS after the indcident happened. Thus, enabling him to finish high school. The jury pushed for a maximum sentence, because Justin showed no remorse. Justin was found guilty of manslaughter, yet got ten years probation, AND a fine that was SUPPOSED to be ten thousand dollars. Sadly, the only way that he would have to pay the fine, is if he violates his probation. Something is SERIOUSLY wrong with our society, and that SOMETHING needs to be done soon. The children yet to come, will be brought up in a world of people who will judge them due to looks, and looks alone. The Denekes were awarded $20,000 when they were found in favor in a wrongful death suit against the Camps. Mike Deneke, Brian's father, says his son often dealt with discrimination. "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 going to act negatively toward 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 they do. Brian did not die because he deserved to. Brian did not die because he asked to. Brian died because he was different. He was a nonconformist. He was an Individualist. He was a free spirit. Brian was also a thoughtful and caring young man. His life was full of promise. His murder deprived the community of someone who had already begun to make a difference to it and no doubt would have made an even greater difference in the future. The same social dynamics that ended with the Columbine massacre in Littleton, Colorado ended differently in Amarillo, Texas. In this case, it was a jock who committed a deliberate act of murder and got off with a slap on the wrist. But in the meantime, Dustin Camp has graduated from high school, and if he doesn't violate his probation, he'll probably go to collage and play football, and get on with the rest of his life. The jury gave him too light a sentence. It's only a matter of time before he commits another crime. But of course, he'll probably get away with it because he's a jock. No, Brian Deneke did NOT deserve to die. So what if he was a punk with a weird looking hairdo? That is no reason for killing someone. There is no law against having your hair done up in a Mohawk! Yeah, it looks weird, but every generation has their thing. When I was that age, I was a hippy. I grew my hair long, and I liked to listen to rock and roll, and smoke some weed. Big deal!!! Just think for a moment. . . If Brian had run over ANYONE, what do you think would hae happened? Even if he just bumped into someone with a car, what do you think would have happened? The problem here is people, The people that served on the jury, the judge, the lawyer of Camp, were all dead set that Brian was a violent and abusive person. They said that he was destined for his own demise. Who are they to determine if a MURDER was something that was going to happen to him sooner or later??? The town of Amarillo has since been divided. People believe that Justin's punishment was not nearly harsh enough, and that there should be another trial, with a different jury, AND judge. Brian's family is fighting for this, and so are people from all over the US. But there is one problem with this, in that a person can not be put on trial twice for the same crime. That is what is known a double jeopardy. It is most unfortunate that Dustin Camp got off so easy for such a violent and deliberate act of murder. What he did was not merely manslaughter, but premeditated murder in the first degree, and he should be on death row. Here in the state of Texas, the penalty for first degree murder is death by lethal injection. Dustin Camp shoud be put to sleep like a mad dog! The low-life gutter-scum should go to the gurney!