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'Occupy Dallas' Facing Possible Eviction

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By BJ Austin, KERA News

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kera/local-kera-993904.mp3

Dallas, TX – Occupy Dallas attorneys meet with city officials Wednesday morning to discuss concerns that protesters have violated the agreement allowing them to camp behind City Hall. A federal judge yesterday cleared the way for the city to evict the protesters. KERA's BJ Austin reports.

Occupy Dallas asked the judge to block the city from removing the protesters' tent city. Attorney Jonathan Winocour told the court the city's rules are ambiguous and the alleged violations are the city's interpretation. The judge disagreed and denied the request for an injunction against the city. Winocour says that pretty much exhausted legal options.

Winocour: I don't think that we necessarily have an avenue or redress other than to go perhaps to the City Council to see if they will exercise some forbearance to allow the occupation to continue.

Winocour says he advised his clients to be prepared to move as early as yesterday afternoon. But the city decided against exercising that option. In a statement, Mayor Mike Rawlings says the city has attempted to balance the group's First Amendment rights with the city's responsibility to protect the activists and general public.

Complaints of the city include not picking up the trash, having semi permanent signs on the property, and using the City Hall bathrooms in violation of the original agreement.

Protester Jared Schiffner says they've fixed all that. He says he'd like to stay until the December 14th end-date in the agreement. But, if that doesn't happen, he'll be all right with that.

Schiffner: I don't personally believe that this location is that pertinent to what we're doing here. If they say hey, we need to leave here, we're working on contingency plans to find warehouses or shut-down restaurants or a place that we can assemble together in this area.

Protester Haley Evans says Occupy camps are being shut down across the country. She sees Occupy Dallas' City Hall days numbered, but she says that won't stop the movement.

Evans: We're not going to give up. I can tell you that much. Whether or not we would try to come back here or find another location because winter is coming and that's going to affect a lot of Occupys there's no telling.

Another protester says if the city does decide to evict them, he hopes they get advance notice and can leave with their tents and belongings, rather than have them confiscated by police.

Email BJ Austin