Thursday, November 17, 2011
Police on Occupy Dallas eviction: “One day you had to do it”
Occupy Dallas protesters already have another demonstration planned for 1 p.m. Saturday.
DALLAS Early Thursday, 50 to 75 Occupy Dallas protesters, many sleeping, were evicted from city of Dallas property by Dallas police officers. The protesters had been camped in downtown Dallas for more than 40 days, carrying messages such as "We are the 99%" as part of the larger Occupy movement started on Wall Street.
The break-up of the camp in Dallas was peaceful, said both protesters and the police.
"...One day you had to do it," said Chief Police David Brown in a press conference Thursday morning. Although the protesters' permit to camp on city property was slated to expire December 14, Brown said some protesters had violated city rules, were unsanitary, and committed crimes. He said the camp had "the most unsanitary conditions you can imagine. ... It just wasn't a sustainable type of arrangement."
The city reports that a few minutes before midnight, campers were told they'd have to vacate the area. Many campers chose to go home. Eighteen resisted and were arrested.
"Waiting [to break up the camp] might escalate into pretty serious violence," Brown said, standing by the decision to break up the camp after dark. He said the late-night intervention would "minimize escalation."
For protesters, it's the end of the camp, but not the end of the mission. Oscar Gallegos, 27, a protester, wasn't camping Wednesday night when police arrived, but came Thursday morning to protest in front of Dallas Police Headquarters during a press conference about the eviction.
He called fellow protesters "family."
"Showing up and seeing our stuff put in sanitary containers, a lot of us cried," he said. "That's a community we were a part of."
But he agreed that the demonstrations won't end with the fall of the camp. A protest is planned for 1 p.m. Saturday at Pioneer Plaza.
"As of now, we need to regroup to get back on the same page," Gallegos said. "Occupy Dallas is not over. ... They destroyed a camp, but we can always come back."
Read the city's statement on the eviction and the protesters' official reaction here.
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