City Gives Occupy Protestors Until Saturday To Clean Up Camp

By Matt Goodman, CBSDFW.COM

Updated: 11/9/2011, 7:23 p.m.

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The city has given the Occupy Dallas camp until 5 p.m. Saturday to correct a number of violations to avoid having their contract agreement with the city severed.

First Assistant City Attorney Christopher Bowers sent Occupy’s legal representative a two-page memo on Tuesday detailing a number of actions that violate the group’s settlement agreement with the city, which allows them to set up camp on a grassy area to the south of City Hall.

The memo alleges that protestors have erected “semi-permanent structures and signs” on the property and used the restrooms at City Hall, both of which are not permitted under the settlement agreement.

The memo also says protestors have failed to pick up after themselves – City Manager Mary Suhm writes “feces and moldy, mildewy food is found on the ground at the camp” – and set up tents in inappropriate areas.

On Wednesday, the Occupy camp responded to the city’s ultimatum by “assessing the concerns” raised by Suhm and Bowers. Group spokesman Michael Prestonise said the Occupy camp has “been more than willing to engage in meaningful and productive interactions” with the city based on these concerns.

“OccupyDallas takes offense to the notion that the city is giving us the right to be on Dallas property,” read the group’s statement. “The city has recognized that the OccupyDallas encampment is a First Amendment Activity and is therefore protected under the First Amendment.”

The memo comes days after eight protestors were arrested during a protest at the Bank of America Building downtown. Three officers were injured, and protestor Stephen Benavides, 30, was charged with assaulting a public servant.

Seven others were arrested on more minor charges, including improper use of a sidewalk. The group has denounced the arrests, saying Benavides, an organizer with the United Steelworkers union, was pushed by police.

Conversely, city spokesman Frank Librio issued a statement over the weekend saying the protester “became aggressive and assaulted officers.”

In her memo, Suhm also cites Child Protective Services seizing a baby from the protest site last week, and the arrest of Richard Armstrong, 24, who faces a pair of felony charges for having sex with a 14-year-old girl in a tent and failing to register as a sex offender.

The city declared Armstrong’s arrest to be an outlier, and said they didn’t expect any similar cases out of the camp. Public safety, however, remains a concern for the city, as evidenced by Suhm’s memo.

“The Crisis Intervention unit of the Dallas Police Department has inspected the encampment on several occasions and remains concerned about the health and public safety of people at the camp, especially children,” Suhm wrote in her memo to the City Council.

The group now has until Saturday at 5 p.m. to correct the settlement violations or police will be allowed to take down tents and remove “other obstructions” on the city’s property.

The group began the protest on October 6 with a march to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Here is the memo received by Occupy’s legal team and another one issued to the City Council:

  • kev07wan

    I support the protestors, but it would help their cause if they cleaned up after themselves!

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  • Occupy some PRIDE

    “feces and moldy, mildewy food is found on the ground at the camp”

    Nice. Nothing seen like that at other rallies, conservative or liberal. These people are human debris and I hope the police throw all of their THC-infused bodies off the property. OCCUPY A SHOWER, YOU FILTHY DEADBEAT LOSERS!

    • YRofTexas

      NOW its just starting to come to light what type of persons are showing up at these rallies.
      Incidents like these show (per recorded human history) that we continue to repeat ourselves…that we humankind are not much improved in character, despite our higher level of education, communication skills, and political correctness !

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  • Melissa

    Their stupidity defeats the purpose and cause, sad…to say the least…nothing wrong with protesting but make it organized and set up schedules don’t let it be a hangout for people with nothing else to do…

  • william

    Steelworkers. Those barbaric thugs would rather assault you than look at you twice. Personally experienced their brand of violence and terror, as did my family.

  • Tweetybird

    Parasites! Take a firehose to them! The city should have never let them sleep there in the first place! They should have broke it up after the 14 year old girl was raped for sure! They are trashing our city, stomping on our flowers. Take a firehose to those that won’t leave!

    • DDT

      I personally like the idea of a sand-filled garden hose, but sadly, that’s not permissible.

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