intended - Runner says club spread flour trail
Runners club spread flour at
black complex to make trail, man says
Dallas Morning News
Monday, February 22, 1993
By Nancy St. Pierre
Staff Writer of the Dallas Morning News
Delbert Hirst of Arlington
'fessed up Sunday. He was one of the white males seen
spreading "white powder" Saturday
throughout a predominantly black apartment complex in
Old East Dallas.
He doesn't see anything wrong
with it. He does things like that most weekends in
similar areas of Fort Worth. He sees it as harmless
Some people in Dallas,
including police, were baffled by the mysterious
action. The Police Department began investigation the
incident as a possible hate crime.
"I was shocked so much was
being made out of it," Mr. Hirst said Sunday.
"I guess it just shows how sensitive things must
really be over there when it comes to racial
Mr. Hirst, 40, is part of an
international "social" running group called
the Hash House Harriers. The Dallas-Fort Worth
chapter meets Saturdays, often to enjoy a human
version of "the hare and the hound."
Police said Saturday that they
were investigating the powder spreading as a hate
crime "because the white males did this in
Roseland Homes, which is predominantly black."
Police also sent out samples of
the powder for testing. If Mr. Hirst is correct, the
lab will find it is a substance common to kitchens
and supermarkets: flour. The runners use it to make
The runners' fun turned serious
Saturday, when residents of the apartments at 2100
North Washington Avenue told police that they thought
Mr. Hirst and two other men were committing a hate
Residents described the men as
"skinheads" because of the "way they
dress and because their heads were shaved,"
according to a police offense report.
The men put the powder in the
grass, around the base of a tree, inside a tire where
children play and in a tunnel area, residents told
police. The men also handed beads to children and
spread more powder on a nearby playground.
Residents told police that they
believed the men were skinheads trying to poison
If that behavior wasn't strange
enough, the men ran "through the complex
chanting as though they were worshipping some type of
god," the report read. One man even carried a
shrunken head, residents told police.
The Hash House harriers act
that way on purpose to blow off stress, Mr. Hirst
said. They sometimes dress in outlandish costumes and
run through neighborhoods, wooded areas and other
parts of town to spice up their daily running
"We can run on the street
anytime," he said.
Mr. Hirst was one of three
"hares" who scoped out a trail for the
"hounds" to follow Saturday.
The hares were leading the
group of 21 runners to the Mardi Gras parade on
To mark a trail for the hounds
to follow, the hares use flour to mark X's and other
signs so that runners know they are on the trail, Mr.
As for the skinhead look, tow
hares had military-style haircuts because they are
National Guard members, Mr. Hirst said. The third man
is balding naturally.
The chanting that was reposted
was from runners yelling, "On! On!" to let
stray runners know they were not on the trail and
"Check!" when they reached a mark on the
trail distinguishing a checkpoint, he said.
The shrunken head, it turns
out, was a mannequin's head that one runner carries
as a token. All members in the group have nicknames.
The head-bearing runner, of course, is
"We like to go to places
we don't normally go," said Mr. Hirst, an
Arlington landscape architect, "People usually
avoid places and are afraid of areas where a lot of
black people live. We weren't.
He said the group has run
through the Como neighborhood in Fort Worth, a
predominantly black section of town, as well as
similar areas in east Fort Worth.
"And they love it,"
he said. "They laugh and think it's a parade
because we're all dressed up."
As the Hash House group ran
through Roseland Homes on Saturday, some runners
handed children Mardi Gras beads as a gesture of
friendship, Mr. Hirst said.
"I was incredulous that an
innocent group like ours would get that kind of
reaction," Hash House member Robin Doglio said.
"It really underscores the racial tensions in
Detective Stan Southall said
the explanation sounds plausible, but the
department's Intelligence unit will continue to
investigate to make sure Mr. Hirst's story checks
"I'm not surprised of the
conclusion jumped to by everybody, given the recent
past history of events," he said.
"But the story did make my