Dallas Mayor Says Protest “Tipping Point” Was Days Ago

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Bud Gillett
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Dallas’ mayor says the “tipping point” leading up to this morning’s removal actually took place during a bank occupation more than a week ago, along with other issues since.  “This is something we were monitoring hour by hour,” said Mike Rawlings, adding that public safety had to be the number one priority. “No one got hurt.  This was done with dignity, this was done with respect.”

Not everyone at city hall agreed: council member Angela Hunt—a supporter of the Occupy movement—says the group’s leaders told her they’d just been in contact with city manager Mary Suhm and things seemed safe.  “They were addressing the issues that she had delineated,” she said, adding, “I was a little bit taken aback and surprised the city is dealing with the ‘Occupy’ movement in this way.”

But council member Dwaine Caraway says Suhm kept him and others aware of police plans to move in overnight. “I thought it was the perfect way to do it and the safest way for us to achieve this goal.  Had it been during the day you would have put the citizens to risk.”

City hall says no overtime was used in the operation, that police mounted and SWAT team units’ schedules were “flexed,” as it’s called, in order to make it happen.

Caraway believes even if there had been a cost, it would have been less than ongoing expenses. “I’m not going to look at what it cost us on last night more than the ongoing costs that was costing the taxpayers for overseeing that process for over a month. “

The city claims there were worsening sanitation issues at the camp, along with an alleged rape, a child endangerment charge, and an allegation of a violent confrontation among organizers themselves.  “When we have leaders strangling each other over this, it starts to concern you,” Rawlings said.  “When you understand sanitation issue; when children are there, it starts to concern you.  Public safety has got to be your number one priority when you’re dealing with these issues.  You’ve got to balance it. ”  He adds, “We needed to make sure we weren’t in a position that you’re not asking me today, ‘Why didn’t you take action?  Someone got hurt!’”

The mayor says he’s certain the right action was taken.  “I believe we’re all celebrating today that everyone was safe.  That’s what’s wonderful about this.”

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