Time for Occupy Dallas to Push Back

Time to push back: No way should anybody let this drop. Last week's Occupy Dallas arrests should be taken as a direct challenge, not a lesson or defeat.

The Dallas Police Department is already trying to paper over the outrageous arrests of seven bank protesters last Saturday on trumped-up "misuse of sidewalk" charges. (Eight people in all were arrested.) This reeks of official misconduct.

The cops claim a small riot started in front of Bank of America downtown when a protester refused to get off a concrete planter that was bank property and then attacked police with a union flag. Stephen Benavides, an organizer for the United Steelworkers, remains in jail, accused of assaulting a public official.

If Benavides, a seasoned organizer, attacked a bunch of Dallas cops, then he must be the dumbest union organizer on Earth, which he's not, people who know him say.

Buzz talked with Hobie Hukill, a school librarian and union activist in Alliance/AFT, who was the other guy on the planter with Benavides. Hukill said a lot of people were crowded into a small space, chanting but behaving responsibly.

The planter formed a "mini-stage" from which Hukill and Benavides led the chants.

"From completely out of our line of sight," he said, "from behind us, I heard this, 'Get off the planter.' I turn around. Stephen does too.

"I think I said the word, 'What?' and the guy has punched both of us in the chest, a glancing blow for me, but he nailed Stephen, and at the time [Stephen] was doing that he was saying, 'Get off the planter.'

"In less than 10 seconds ... Stephen was flat on his face."

Hukill thinks the guy who punched him identified himself at first as working for the bank and was wearing a bank security uniform, but the same guy shows up in news video wearing a Dallas police jacket.

We have Dallas cops working off-duty for the banks the same way they work off-duty as bouncers for the bad bars. That entire arrangement is rife with conflicts of interest, and we can't let our cops play the part of 1930s-era goons beating up UAW organizers for Henry Ford. It's bad medicine for us, bad medicine for them.

But appealing to City Hall won't accomplish jack shit, because of the sold-out culture there. What the protesters here will have to do is what they did in Oakland — bulk up and go again. The one thing we can't do is let this lie.

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