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Protesters Rally In Downtown Dallas


By BJ Austin

Dallas, TX – Dallas City Hall Plaza was the scene of a several orchestrated protests yesterday: different groups, different issues, but unanimous dissatisfaction with government. KERA's BJ Austin reports.

A field trip, of sorts, brought more than 50 Paul Quinn College students to Dallas City Hall Plaza. They came to protest plans to route all commercial waste picked up in Dallas into the city's McCommas Bluff landfill. They wore white t-shirts with protest slogans printed in green. Their signs read "Groceries not Garbage."

Wattley: We have a college, we have a community and we have no grocery store.

Elizabeth Wattley runs the farm on the Paul Quinn campus.

Wattley: There's just no where to eat. We travel over five miles to get groceries and Lord knows where we travel to to get a healthy meal in a restaurant. We have nothing.

Wattley says students are concerned about a parade of garbage trucks traveling past the college on Simpson Stuart headed for the landfill. City officials say routing all commercial waste into the landfill could generate about 18 million dollars in dumping fees, and set the stage for a huge recycling operation. A vote on the issue could come as early as next week. Wattley says the city has not adequately addressed the students' concerns about noise, pollution, neighborhood disruption and the effect that might have on retail development in the area.

Wattley: I think it's good for them to see that you still have a voice as a citizen.

And as a city employee. Several Dallas firefighters from the 9-1-1 communications department protested staffing cuts and changes in shift hours. The city says it will create greater efficiencies and save on overtime. Protesters say it will increase response time in fire and medical emergencies.

Labor union members also took the bullhorn to protest city layoffs of more than 100 people in next year's budget.

El Centro student Cooper Caraway, a member of Students for a Democratic Society showed up to lend support.

Caraway: We came out today to stand in solidarity with all the workers who are facing extreme cutbacks from these legislatures and city councils because we are facing the same cutbacks as students. The same cuts that are going on in education are the same cuts that are going to public sector employees. And we have to stand together if we really want to stop this.

Caraway says combined protests such as this one produce louder voices to let politicians know times are tough for people outside of the halls of government.