Meet a problem-solver in troubled Dallas neighborhood

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by TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on July 25, 2012 at 10:20 PM

Updated Saturday, Nov 9 at 1:50 PM

Police-involved shooting

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DALLAS — Longtime residents of the South Dallas neighborhood where a riot nearly broke out Tuesday in the wake of a fatal police shooting say they were embarrassed by the behavior that was broadcast on local TV.

They ask that people across Dallas judge them by their problem solvers — not their problems.

On Tuesday, it felt like simmering anger was seconds from boiling over on Dixon Avenue. Twenty-four hours later, the streets still felt tense, but calm prevailed.

On the corner of Audrey Street and Dixon Avenue though, calm never really left.

"It's a good place to be," said Calvin Carter, a 73-year-old long time resident, flipping through photo albums with 23 years' worth of pictures. His life's work fills the pages.

Carter has lived in the Dixon Circle community for 44 years, and he hated what happened there on Tuesday.

"To me I looked at it as kind of embarrassing to see what was going on," he said.

He watched a near-riot break out Tuesday night on television. He was inside his house.

"Most homeowners were at their house," he said.

Carter believes outsiders were the main ones causing trouble. People saw a scene and stopped. Then a mob mentality was taking over, and it was a bunch of strangers, he said.

In 1989, Carter and his wife bought a "drug house," tore it down, and built the Sunny Acres Community Action Association. It's still in operation at the same corner.

His family has given kids and other families a safe place to play and learn all these years.

"This neighborhood has always had a bad name," he said. "They call it 'Dixon Circle' and nobody wanted to go to that area because of that name. If we can change that perspective — which we are trying to do since we started doing this — people wouldn't be afraid."

From his front window he's watched the streets waver; sometimes thriving, sometimes struggling.

And he'd never felt embarrassed by his community until Tuesday, he said. He prays he never feels it again.

"We're trying to build a better community," Carter said.

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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