Mayor Awaits Report on Occupy Dallas; Group Vows It Won't Protest Omni, Vets Parade
Photo by Chris Howell
In the wake of two reports concerning the city's response to Saturday's arrest of eight Occupy Dallasites, some Friends of Unfair Park have asked: Is the city going to boot the protesters camping out behind Dallas City Hall, allowed by agreement following last month's trip to the courthouse? The short answer: Not sure, not yet.
Paula Blackmon, Mayor Mike Rawlings's chief of staff, tells Unfair Park this morning that the mayor is awaiting a report from City Manager Mary Suhm and Dallas Police Chief David Brown, which, she says, "will dictate what route we're taking." I asked Blackmon when that doc is due.
"The mayor would like it sooner rather than later, but there's no specific date," Blackmon says. "But he wants it thorough and accurate, which we will know it will be. And whenever that review comes in, actions will be taken if needed." Suhm is unavailable to comment till later today; DPD media relations is checking with the chief to see when he believes the review will be completed. (Update at 11:07 a.m.: DPD says they don't have an update and "are not responding" to inquiries about the due date of the report.)
Glynn Wilcox, who helped hash out to the agreement with the city, hadn't heard of this report till I mentioned it to him this morning. As far as he's concerned, the Occupiers did nothing wrong Saturday -- not even Stephen Benavides, who still sits in Dallas County Jail on a charge of assaulting a public official. (His bond has been set at $50,000.) Regardless, Wilcox says, "I don't think the actions off-site would have anything to do with on-site."
He also says council member Tennell Atkins's concerns over Occupy Dallas interfering with Friday's opening of the city-owned Omni Hotel and the downtown Veterans Day Parade are unfounded. After all, says Wilcox, the Occupiers' agreement with the city reads that "Occupy Dallas shall not interfere with special events that occur near the subject property, including but not limited to the Turkey Trot, the Christmas parade ... or events at the Dallas Convention Center." I asked Wilcox if that includes the hotel.
"Exactly," he says. "That's understood very well within the protest work group -- special events, we're not making a scene. And the Veterans Day Parade, which honors their service to this country, is not something to be protested."
Says Wilcox, "We value the working relationship we've been able to have with the city of Dallas. They're committed to allowing First Amendment protected speech as much as anybody, and have done a really good job in ... I don't want to say facilitating, because they haven't given us special treatment. But they've done a stand-up job of making sure everybody's informed on both sides. I reached out to DPD yesterday to sit down and formulate a 'How to Protest in Dallas' manual. I think that would help everybody, noit just our side, but anyone who wants to express their First Amendment rights in town."