Occupy Dallas Members Evicted, But Still Here
By Bill Zeeble, KERA News
Dallas, TX – Occupy Dallas members evicted from their base behind city hall say they're not going away. KERA's Bill Zeeble has more on the large police effort to dismantle the camp, and the discord among some city officials questioning the move.
Dallas Police Chief David Brown says fears of escalating violence among Occupy Dallas members was the tipping point. He was also concerned about dirty, unsanitary camp conditions, complete with human waste. A city ordinance prohibits sleeping on public property from midnight to 5:00 a.m.
He says that's why city Manager Mary Suhm gave him the go ahead to tear the camp down early Thursday morning. Hundreds of Dallas Police Officers showed up with SUVs, horses, squad cars, and more.
Brown: "I know the numbers looked like a pretty big number. I realize that criticism but anytime we make an arrest we like to have two officers per arrest at a minimum."
It appeared overwhelming to camper Alonzo Bay. While Brown says the 50 to 75 Occupy members were given advanced warning, Bay says he never heard a thing.
Bay: "They raided us last night for no cause. And nobody knew anything that they were going to do. We didn't hear no order.. and they came in with horses, paddy wagons, bike police, motorcycle cops."
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says even though some Occupy members complained of excessive police force, he says that wasn't so, and offered praise for blue.
Rawlings: "I look at results. No one got hurt. This was done with dignity, was done with respect. The protesters were great and police were great."
Occupy members also accused the city of a coordinating the crackdown with evictions elsewhere. Chief Brown denied it, but acknowledged communicating with other operations around the country.
Brown: "I've been talking to other city police chiefs, been at a conferences where this was the sole topic of discussion. How to deal with these encampments, how to deal with the criminality."
City council member Angela Hunt disagreed with the raid in the dark of night. She's writing a memo to the city manager.
Hunt: "There was no indication given from City Attorney's office that an eviction was imminent or that there were specific policies not being addressed, part of agreement city had made with Occupy Dallas. So I'm at a loss why suddenly this decision was made. We had public protestors, public discourse, and it seemed to me that that merited a public transparent process if we're to discuss eviction."
Suhm says she respects Hunt's concerns, and will discuss it with her. Meanwhile, Thursday afternoon, Occupy member Ameer Wahdan led other members in the now almost routine call & response address, to say they will not be intimidated.
Wahdan: "Our camp may have been dismembered.. but our movement remains intact. We will come back in a new location, with more structure, more organization and more heart."
Whadan and the rest did not say where they would re camp, exactly. City officials say if Occupy members settle on private property without permission, or public property and stay past midnight, they'll be evicted again.