City of Dallas on Occupy Dallas Evictions - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

City of Dallas on Occupy Dallas Evictions

Press conference to begin around 10 a.m.



    The city of Dallas is holding a news conference at 10 a.m. Thursday to discuss the eviction of Occupy Dallas protesters from a City Hall park.

    You can watch the news conference in the video player above.

    The city released the following statement overnight Wednesday following the evictions.

    The City of Dallas has made every effort at each juncture of the Occupy Dallas situation over the past six weeks to support the group's ability to express its First Amendment rights. The City's approach and response to this situation have been cited by observers to be a model for other cities experiencing similar circumstances associated with the Occupy movement.

    Occupy demonstrations have occurred over many weeks and led to erection of encampments in many cities, including Dallas. Generally, overnight camping and sleeping in public are not allowed on public property and are not associated with First Amendment rights. However, the City of Dallas worked with Occupy Dallas' legal representatives to reach an agreement which allowed the encampment behind City Hall, for a limited period of time, as long as conditions of the agreement were in strict compliance.

    Despite repeated attempts by the City asking for compliance, some individuals associated with Occupy Dallas have violated the agreement. Criminal offenses have also occurred and are documented in the attachment.

    Compounding the criminal offenses and breaches of the agreement, there have been health concerns materializing at the encampment in regards to the buildup of trash and inadequate sanitary conditions that, if allowed to continue, could have lead to serious health issues for participants.

    Most concerning, Dallas Police Department officials and members of the DPD Crisis Intervention Team have observed and had been told by individuals inside the encampment that there was increasing dissension and strife among various factions. Serious safety issues, including criminal activity, have been of paramount concern. Initially, the demonstrators maintained a peaceful posture toward the public, officers and each other. Over time, violent incidents have occurred. These occurrences became more frequent and created a substantial threat to the public and to demonstrators camping at the Occupy Dallas site.

    For the safety of each individual at the encampment, the police and members of the public, it was determined to terminate the agreement and disband the encampment. This action does not affect the group's First Amendment right as any group is allowed to express its freedom of speech and demonstrate on public property during most hours of each day. It is against City ordinances to sleep in public or be in a public park or on City Hall property from midnight to 5am.

    The enforcement began at approximately midnight (Thursday morning). Police made several announcements, over a 90 minute period of time, via loud speakers asking for demonstrators to leave. Police allowed for individuals to pack their belongings and property and gave repeated warnings to vacate the site during that time period. Those individuals that did not heed the multiple warnings were arrested shortly after 1:30 am (Thursday morning). 18 people were arrested without resistance and acted peacefully. The demonstrators' property has been catalogued and will be secured in either the police department's property room or at the auto pound.

    The Crisis Intervention Team assisted 7 individuals in obtaining shelter.

    Planning for a variety of contingencies has been ongoing since the demonstrators first began their protests. The Police Department developed plans based on their experience and training, along with consultation from other cities dealing with the Occupy movement. However, it was not determined until late Wednesday evening to place a plan in action. The previously stated reasons were instrumental in the final determination to enact the operation. The police presence was appropriate for the situation, facilitating compliance while ensuring officer and demonstrator safety.
    A news conference will be held at 10:00 am Thursday at Dallas Police Department Headquarters in the media room.