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Dallas Mayor Johnson Heeds Calls for Special Council Meeting On Police Oversight

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson puts on a mask as he prepares for a press conference on June 2, 2020.EXPAND
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson puts on a mask as he prepares for a press conference on June 2, 2020.
Stephen Young

Monday morning, fresh out of meeting with Dallas police officials, Dominique Alexander said he and the protesters he helped organize wanted a specially called meeting of the City Council to fix what they believe is the city's lack of police oversight.

Tuesday afternoon, after another protest and hundreds of arrests by the Dallas Police Department and Texas state troopers, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson scheduled a meeting for Friday.

"Our community right now is expressing legitimate concerns, fears and complaints about a history of systemic issues in this country," Johnson said during a joint press conference with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. "We should hear them, we should talk to them, we should respect them and their rights to express themselves. It's up to us ... to heed these calls for justice."

Later, on Twitter, Johnson promised that members of the public would be able to speak at the meeting. 

Speaking before Johnson, Abbott deplored the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police but said little about any specific steps Texas would take to deal with police violence and misconduct or the demands of protesters.

The governor told reporters that he was working with Texas' U.S. attorneys to identify and prosecute those he claimed were coming from outside the state to loot and incite violence. Col. Steven McCraw, the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said his agency had identified several non-Texans participating in criminal activity related to the protests statewide, but said those people would not be identified until they were arrested and charged.

An initial list provided to the media by Dallas police showed that the vast majority of those arrested in the city were Texas residents.

As Johnson, Abbott and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price spoke inside, about 200 protesters gathered outside City Hall.

Sara Mokuria, a co-founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality, led the crowd in a chant demanding Dallas defund its police department.

Jeremiah Pickens stood on the edge of the crowd, holding a Black Lives Matter sign above his head.

"Something needs to be done with the (Dallas Police Department)," Pickens said. "When I get pulled over, it's just not right. They make assumptions every time."

Pickens left Monday night's protest in Dallas just before marchers walked onto the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, avoiding the mass arrest that soon followed. Despite DPD's action on the bridge, he said that he thought the department was doing better than most cities.

"It just needs to be peaceful, a peaceful protest," Pickens said. 

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