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City Did Not Evict Occupy Dallas Protesters Tuesday

By Matt Goodman and Carol Cavazos, CBSDFW.COM
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – City officials told Occupy Dallas protesters this afternoon that they will not be evicted Tuesday, despite a federal judge’s ruling that blocked the group’s injunction against the city.

City spokesman Frank Librio said attorneys for both sides will meet again Wednesday morning to discuss whether the group will be forced to leave their encampment south of City Hall.

Last week, City Manager Mary Suhm and First Assistant City Attorney Chris Bowers sent a stern memo to the group telling them that they violated the agreement that allowed them to set up camp on city property and had until last Saturday to correct the violations or face eviction.

The group countered by filing a temporary restraining order against the city, which is what U.S. District Judge Jane Boyle denied Tuesday.

The judge sided with the city, citing two incidents involving the sexual assault of a child and a baby that had to be taken by Child Protective Services from a homeless couple who was raising the child in a tent.

Tuesday evening, Mayor Mike Rawlings issued this statement:

“Today the judge made it clear the city has the authority to enforce the agreement in place. No action will be taken this evening at Occupy Dallas.  City Attorneys will discuss the next steps with this group’s legal representation tomorrow.  The city has attempted to balance this group’s First Amendment rights with the city’s responsibility to protect the activists and general public. Public Safety and the health conditions at the encampment remain a paramount concern.”

Earlier in the day, Dallas-based attorney John Wheat Gibson Sr. sent out an email attached to the Occupy camp’s press release, reading:

“Civil disobedience should be nonviolent protest to raise public awareness of the usurpation of the republic by a plutocracy, and the consequent economic inequality but it is by definition not lawful.  After all, the whole point is to demonstrate the injustice of the law by disobeying it—in the instant case, of the law that steals from the workers who produce wealth to enrich the drones who run financial institutions.

Have we already forgotten Rosa Parks?”

When the judge denied the group’s injunction, it meant the city can move in and remove the protesters when it pleases. Police were lined up around City Hall for much of Tuesday, but took no action against the group.

Tuesday evening, the Occupy camp asked for an impromptu meeting with the city manager. While they waited, protesters took over the podium and sat at tables to listen to one of their leaders, Peter Johnson. Johnson is the founder of the Institute for Non-Violence.

“Sea change don’t come from the White House,” he said. “Sea change don’t come from the top. It comes from the bottom.”

Suhm never showed up to the meeting, but First Assistant Police Chief Charles Cato did. He told a protester, “there’s not going to be anybody put out tonight. And our attorneys are going to reach out to your attorneys tomorrow.”

The issue is the group’s poor behavior. Even the group’s attorney, Jonathan Winocour, seemed furstrated with it.

“Stop smoking marijuana on public property. Stop drinking on public property. Stop fornicating with minors on public property,” he yelled during a general assembly meeting Tuesday.

Because the city has shown such a willingness to work with the group, Winocour advised them to “stop partying and start protesting.”

“The opportunity is yours to waste,” he told the group.

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