Yesterday, Caraway Visited Pioneer Park. But Tomorrow, They Occupy a Federal Courtroom.

ChrisHowellOccupy1a.jpg
Photos by Chris Howell
One week ago today we walked alongside the Occupy Dallas-ites as they marched from Pike Park to the Dallas Federal Reserve airing their laundry list of grievances, echoing those who stormed Wall Street almost a month ago and never left as their ranks swelled. But in the week since, the story in Dallas has been less about corporate greed and bank bailouts than it has a fight over Pioneer Park between City Hall and the convention center, where the occupiers popped up a makeshift tent city and turned their camp-out into a First Amendment fight with city officials who granted the group a permit on the condition they got a million-dollar insurance policy. That didn't happen. But this did late Wednesday:

Members of the (very) loosely assembled Occupy Dallas filed a temporary injunction against the city, insisting the demand for a policy is a violation of their "right to peaceably demonstrate in public forums in" the city. You can read the suit and request for a temporary injunction on the other side. The city will do nothing, it says, until a judge rules on the TRO Friday.

So, until tomorrow, let's return to yesterday, when we called council member and former mayor Dwaine Caraway to get his thoughts on Occupy Dallas. We'd heard he wanted to walk down the hill and talk to the protesters himself, and we were curious whether he'd done so. He hadn't yet.

"I was expecting a couple of them to come here to my office," he said. "I've been here pretty much all day, and nobody's come."

We talked about the million-dollar insurance policy issue. Caraway wants Occupy to think seriously about getting it, he said. "The insurance policy being requested is a million dollars. But it doesn't take a million dollars to get it. It probably would cost around $500 to secure."

The policy, he said, will help the city not feel so antsy about potential lawsuits, and thus work better with the protesters.

"Let's go back to last night and use the storm we had, for example," he explained. "With them being on city property, as they are, let's just say someone got struck by lightning. They're on the city's property, and that's a potential lawsuit for taxpayers. So where I am sensitive personally to what their position is, we still must do everything we can to protect the taxpayers. It's just prudent to make sure all the safety measures are addressed."

But what are the odds someone would sue for injury? "It doesn't have to be them," Caraway said. "It could be a parent. If something happened to you, you're not going to be here to do nothing, but that's not to say your family's not going to do something on your behalf." The same would apply, he said, if a counter-group came down to confront them "and something goes wrong."

Caraway said he'd show the group where to get a policy himself, if necessary. "I'll tell 'em where to go," he said. "I don't have a problem with them or their message. They've been picking up behind themselves, picking up trash, and they haven't been disorderly. A good protest, I wouldn't let $500 stop me from getting my message out."

ChrisHowellOccupy1.jpg
In this day and age, when companies will "ensure Beyonce's legs" and whatnot, he added, "it's not impossible to secure a policy and one that's affordable."

So, we asked, when was he going to head down there and talk with the Occupy people himself about all this?

"I may pass down there and try to see," he said. "But I don't wanna create any waves out here."

Waves be damned, we guess, because about 10 minutes later we got a call that Caraway was waiting for us in front of the Occupy site. When we headed down there to see what was going on, your former mayor was already chatting with four of the Occupy participants, among them a kid wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and a girl with cheek piercings.

"You raised a good point," Caraway was saying to the group as we walked up. They wanted to know whose name would the policy even be under, since they're a loose coalition and not a formal organization? And why was the amount set so high anyway?

Caraway said the amount was "standard," but promised to get some concrete answers for them. He encouraged them to "be open-minded and take [the policy] into consideration."

"Come to the table so we can address those concerns," he added.

"Thank you for coming out," said Richard, one of the participants, very sincerely. He's a guy in his mid-40s who's been organizing most of the cooking for the camp. He was beaming.

"Yeah, they told us the whole council was out of town," another guy added.

ChrisHowellOccupy2.jpg
"Feel free to come up to my office," Caraway assured them. He did a round of hand-shaking and walked away, trailed by an assistant and a police officer.

"They raised a good point there," with whose name would be on the policy, he told us. "I'm going to go check on all this."

If this lawsuit doesn't muck things up, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.OccupyVDallas
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75 comments
RTGolden
RTGolden

@204fb2321ad434ce5c6f2eae127bd9b4:disqus   I've enjoyed our discussion, but I have to go.  Who knows, perhaps some of the more rabid posters on here (both left and not left) will see our exchange and think "Hey! Look at that.  People of different ideals CAN communicate!!  Who'da thunk it??"Anyway, I thank you for your civility and thoughtful responses.  I try to keep an open mind on most things, and you may have single-handedly kept my support leaning towards the ODers (not disrespectful, just a lazy typist).  If they have more folks like you, I think they just might have a chance of getting organized and accomplishing something.

rumpunch
rumpunch

I find the actual damages part of the claim interesting:

1. Lost wages - what wages were lost?2. Damage to reputation - when dis protesters care what people thought?3. Mental anquish - yes the city pissed you off, but you showed up to the protest pissed off.

I still not criticizing their right to protest, but you lack credibility when instead of asking for the ability to stay in the park, you are asking for money.  Maybe some group should protest against greed and self interest.  I think I saw some people downdown with signs like that in the past few days.

Nailemup
Nailemup

This is like requiring the Third Estate to go to Versailles, ask for permission to protest, and pay the King before permission will be granted. What a JOKE!

Mike
Mike

The Third Estate was a component, though not often used, of French government for 100's of years prior to the Revolution.  The correct analogy is 50 people in oxcarts showing up to protest outside the gates and wanting to spend the night, until they wanted to leave.  Try spending the night at Versailles these days being the modern day equivalent of the oxcart drivers.

Nailemup
Nailemup

Not a propery fully developed analogy.  Expanding on yours, Versailles would not challenge the oxcart drivers in their effort to spend the night, they would require that they get an insurance policy in the event lightning were to strike the oxen, and likely require that said policy be purchased from one of their cronies who will slide them a sweet kickback.

Nailemup
Nailemup

You ask where you fit in? Ambivalent with narrow focus I suppose. There's always a good portion of those. I used to be until I caught on.

Regarding the rule of law, it remains to be seen if the insurance requirement is a constitutional infringement or not. It's a petty issue when viewed in context of the more broad conflict. I don't think either should dig in on that point. Of course, the Sons of Liberty violated more that a few rules and laws while engaged in civil disobedience, didn't they?

RTGolden
RTGolden

Regarding your first paragraph.  Electronics and electronic communication are not a 'necessity'.  Food, water, shelter, are necessities.  Electronics and elec. communication are important, yes.  They can be very beneficial, yes.  You don't die without them, therefore they are not necessary.  And anyone who pays $5 for a 20oz cup of coffee from starbucks better not bitch about paying 'through the nose' for gas.  I'm just saying.On to the second paragraph, the kids are poking the dog through the fence, metaphorically.  Behind the protection of instant visibility, the occupiers are taunting the city, knowing that, at some point, responsible citizens are going to say 'enough of this shit' and demand that the Occupiers toe the same line as the rest of us.  At that point, the city will have to remove them, it will turn some degree of ugly, and the occupiers will tout it as oppression.  Fair enough, the city gets checkmated, I can get behind that.  Who will pay for all of that?  Thankfully, I moved to Balch Springs, so only a portion of my local taxes will be sucked down that sump.As for your 99% claim, well that's just patently false.  If your crowd represents 99%, where do I fit in?  I'm not a billionaire, millionaire, not even one of those Dallas 30-thousandaires.  I'm a vet, am familiar with 3 languages, I've been a truck driver, a soldier, and now I work for a locally-owned small business.  I squeak by, month to month, eat a lot of ramen noodles and rice&beans.  I have an 8yr old laptop I bought used and I run Linux on it.  In other words, I live within my means.  Now, according to you, since I don't get what you're trying to say (I rather think I AM what you're trying to say), I've been disenfranchised by a group claiming to represent "99%" of America.  You know, at the beginning, I liked the protests.  What could be more American than people protesting injustice while enjoying the full protection of our Constitution while doing so?  Even though I don't agree with all of their conflicting and varying claims/demands/points, I supported their efforts.  The only thing I took issue with was the camping in the park thing.  I believe in the rule of law, and from your claims, you do too.  Or do you only support the rule of laws that support Your ideals?

Nailemup
Nailemup

Regarding your allegation of hypocrisy, electronics and electronic communications are a necessity in these times and don't insult your own intelligence by pretending otherwise. Those tools would be more affordable if we weren't all hemorrhaging money to pay for fuel, medical care, insurance, etc. The public owners of those corporations would be benefitting from the sales of those products if crooked CEOs weren't absconding with the profits and getting away with it thanks to the politicians they own.

As to who is waving the metaphorical stick, I think this is a metaphorical powder keg so it doesn't matter who's waving the metaphorical stick the because the result is the same. I think the City would be wise to pick their battles and pick their time, but things will come to a head eventually so go the City may as well go ahead and light the fuse and hold firm on that insurance policy just in case lightning strikes.

It worries me that there is a lack of comprehension as to just how angry these 99% are right now and how many there are and how they perceive that they have nothing to lose. The occupiers (ODers as you call them) who are camping out in the park are not near as pissed off as the working poor who are slaving at a job all day and coming home to bills they can't pay and kids they can't educate while their tax money is handed to bail out a banker who never had to miss a day on his yacht and while millionaires pout at the thought their tax rate could go up a teeny tiny amount and give them a little less money to hide in an offshore account. The more the peaceful occupiers are ridiculed, the more this other group of the 99% is being provoked into action and they are not the love-in variety.

I'm just saying.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Who is the party waving the stick?  Those of us who think the Occupiers should follow the same laws as the rest of us, or the Occupiers, who think they are exempt from laws established to promote the social well-being and public safety?And I'm not mocking their cyber cafe.  Being an old soldier, I admire their resourcefulness and adaptability.  I merely think that protesting big corporations, and then brandishing the products of said corporations in every picture we see of the protests and the camp is a tad bit hypocritical. 

Nailemup
Nailemup

I say go ahead and make them leave. Poke them with a stick while they're at it. Let's get this place looking more like Northern Ireland and less like the cyber cafe you mock.

Nailemup
Nailemup

The oxen would not be there had the King and cronies not been so arrogant in their greed and corruption. Nobody cares if the oxen run a mock in the lightning storm anymore. It's long past that.

RTGolden
RTGolden

No matter how you word the analogy, it's incorrect.  Making the ODers leave the park is not infringing on their right to peaceful protest, assembly, or free speech.  It's enforcing a lawful curfew on public property.  The protesters are not protesting after 11pm and before 6am, they're camping, illegally, on public property.  It doesn't matter that they're using it as a base for the protests.  If I have to leave the park or the grounds at 11pm, by law, then so should they.  If they're protesting the curfew, then let them protest the curfew and leave the banks, businesses, and citizens alone.  If they're protesting the unfair application of laws in favor of corporations at the expense of the citizens, then they really shouldn't claim that the curfew law doesn't apply to them.In any case, thank you for the clarification and addition of the Boston Massacre to my other post.  It is, of course, a major cause of the unrest leading to the tea party and I was wrong to omit it.

Mike
Mike

The insurance policy is for the oxen running amok during the lightning storm, oxen that would not be there if you had not brought them. Nobody cares if the stuff you brought, e.g., oxen, tents, apple cloud connection apparatus, gets damaged.

rumpunch
rumpunch

Not making any judgements for or against the cause, but I am having trouble seeing why the ability to occupy the park after park curfew hours infringes on anyones first amendment rights.  They have the right to be there open till close. 

A defendents right to a trial is not infringed he or she is prevented from sleeping in the courtroom.  I would see a problem if the hours were unreasonable.  Maybe their rights are being inconvienced if they have to leave each night, but they are not being infringed.

One question.  Are the questioning the legality of the insurance requirement or the permit.  If judge rules in their favor does it just keep the validity of the permit and therefore allows them to be there though 5pm on Friday?

Mike
Mike

Judge will not rule until Friday.  The insurance argument is moot at that point since the permit expires later same day.

RTGolden
RTGolden

They're not questioning anything.  They are stamping their feet and holding their breath until they turn blue or until Mommy and Daddy give in and give them what they want.  This tantrum is taking whatever good will they earned through their protest and grinding it into the mud.  It's  a spoiled generation pissed off because everyone wont stop what they're doing (like going to work and contributing to society) and pay homage to their little demonstration.

phe_75034
phe_75034

You're not listening. You made up your mind the minute you saw they were young, hairy, and poorly dressed.

You think everyone at the Tea Party (the real one, in Boston - not the bunch of Sarah Palin-worshippers running around today) knew exactly what they were protesting? Or, even more to the point, what the hell they expected to change by their action?

I doubt it. I think they were just fed up with the Big Boys (in their case, the Brits, in today's case, Bank of America et al) giving them the short end of the stick.

Nailemup
Nailemup

Keep in mind that the real Boston Tea Party was also prompted by the preceding Boston Massacre, where young rif-raff with messy hair who were not doing their chores stood facing the Red Coats shouting in protest and got shot to pieces.  Injustice brought the Boston Tea Party - it was way more than taxes.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Why do you keep insinuating that I judge any of them by their appearance?  I've not made one comment about their sense of style.And again, The real Boston Tea Party was organized by the wealthy elite, tired of the crown taxing the hell out of them.  They were striking at a crown jewel, destroying the product of the company that was vexing them (East India Company).  They weren't trespassing on Boston Commons, proudly displaying their Iphones, Macbook Pros, while sipping Starbucks and McDonald's in the kerosene glow of a Coleman lantern hung from the rafters of a WalMart gazebo.

Libtard Hippiestink
Libtard Hippiestink

Re: photo of the fat neckbeard stoned hippie holding the "my generation is your future" sign:

How terrifying! We are doomed.

phe_75034
phe_75034

Good thing we're not jumping to conclusions based on a single image. Oh, wait...

ElieVanHalen
ElieVanHalen

These idiots are diluting their message (whatever the hell that may be) with this ridiculous "first amendment" fight.  Why do they need to "occupy" a park where noone is going to go at night anyway?  At least there's some symbolic meaning in occupying Wall Street, although most of the corporations and bankers are probably in Midtown now. 

Nailemup
Nailemup

The City will find a way to dispose of them wherever they protest. They are very threatened by this protest because it makes people look. Even if they are looking only to scoff, they are still looking. It's easier for dirty politics to thrive when hidden.

Tom-hendricks
Tom-hendricks

The paradigm is shifting from conservative versus liberal to corporations versus democracy.

The middle east had it's Arab Spring. We are having our Wall Street Fall.

Albert
Albert

More like anti-capitalists vs. the corporations, spurred on by the US President, George Soros and the anti-capitalist, anti-semetic Adbusters.

The "Arab Spring" analogy works, because these Muslim uprisings are resulting in attacks on and the expulsion of Christians and Jews.

When the movement first formed (after Days of Rage), it may have attracted some non-leftists, but as the unions and communists and various garden-variety Solidarity Movements do what they do so well, fewer normal people will be attracted, and it will go the way of the Madison protests - consisting of professional leftist protestors and hangers-on. Generally a freak show.

Then a new movement will spring forth from the "grassroots", maybe the President again will transmit marching orders just in time for the elections.

We're all Venezuelan Muslims now, comrades!

phe_75034
phe_75034

Got to take issue with something you wrote here. You're throwing out "anti-capitalist" like it's a bad thing.

I argue: What's so great about capitalists, anyway?

Weren't the greatest capitalists of all time were guys like John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Henry Clay Frick, and the rest? Do we want these guys back? I don't.

If you look at what (at least some) of the Occupy folks are saying, I think it's something like, "Look out, America. There's a small grouip of people who control a huge percentage of the money in this country. Sorta like there was back in the bad old days. If you don't want to return to living in cold-water flats and tenements, owing your soul to the company store like great-grandpa did, maybe you should start paying attention."

If it means I am against a new generation of robber-barons, then I think I'm pretty proud to call myself an "anti-capitalist".

phe_75034
phe_75034

Point taken. I think its fair to say "most" of the Founding Fathers would recoil from the current oligarchy. But, who knows how many of them were just mouthing the platitudes of the day, while secretly wishing for world domination?

Some things never go out of style...

phe_75034
phe_75034

For what it's worth, I think we're on the same track here. The current systems is not working (or, at least, not working very fairly), ant the current two-party approach is not likely to change itself. A more level playing field for other parties, and other points of view, is necessary to make any real change.

Nailemup
Nailemup

I agree that election reform is the only answer and it may even be too late for that. Full revolution is what they want and that would be a very bad swing the other way. People will not watch their families suffer quietly forever, especially not in the face such open and shameless corruption and inequality.

RTGolden
RTGolden

I have to disagree with you on their demand.  They don't want complete revolution, and the vast majority of them wouldn't be able to hang tough in a complete revolution.  Take violence out of the idea of revolution.  How would you define a "complete revolution"? Taken directly, a complete revolution would bring you right back to where you are now.  They may indeed want that, replacing the current evil oligarchy (their term not mine) with themselves or people of like mind with them, which would, eventually lead to another revolution.I think what they want is change.  Here is why they won't succeed at the change they want.  Rail at the banks all you want.  Demonize the Republicans and Tea Partiers until you're blue in the face.  Chant, bang drums, and protest until the walls come down.  It won't help. The Tea Party was co-opted by the republicans and lost their momentum, the same thing will happen with the Occupiers.  MoveOn, Soros, and the Dems will co-opt their movement, they'll support Dems who mouth their mantras for the cameras, and those Dems will do what all Dems/Reps have always done: Bow to their corporate masters, promote a welfare society, kill American innovation and advance, and fill their coffers with our money.The one thing the Occupiers and TPers and all honest citizens should be demanding is term limits and an end to election laws that create a virtual political duopoly and severely inhibit the growth and development of opposition parties.  Until you marginalize the current power structure, you won't get any real change.

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results" -Albert Einstein.

If you keep voting in the same two parties, and expecting change, you're insane.

Nailemup
Nailemup

The messages arent mixed, but they are vast. It is "The Awakening of the Third Estate". (look it up). The demand is for complete revolution.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Oh, and careful what you claim the Founding Fathers would or wouldn't object to.  Many of them were wealthy landowners who thought there was nothing wrong with buying another person for labor, whether through indentured servitude or outright slavery.

RTGolden
RTGolden

I keep saying two things over and over.  The ODer's lose the moral high ground when they expect local laws and ordinances to be suspended so they can camp in the park.  I don't care what they look or smell like, as long as they act like law abiding citizens fed up with the BS.  The second thing is; Which point should I listen to?  If you have 150 ODers, you're going to have 150 points.  I've seen them quoted as being against everything from Wall Street Banks to private health insurance to corporate environmental evils to city laws prohibiting sleeping on public property.  Whatever slim piece of moral ground they held on to they've muddied up with mixed messages.I wish them luck and good will.  I hope they get themselves organized.  Maybe some of them should run for office, as true independents.  They could add term limits to their laundry list of disparate demands.

phe_75034
phe_75034

Who said anything about socialism? Make your profit. Keep your profit.

Banks too big to fail? That didn't happen because there's too much government - the 2008 mess came about because regulation was scaled back. Goldman Sachs has enough power to manipulate the market that it can engineer it's own bubbles. Enormous financial institutions spent the Bush years gambling your money on investments no one completely understood, except maybe the shysters who developed them in the first place.Big business has more clout in Washington than you, me, and all of our Facebook friends combined could have in 100 lifetimes of letter writing.

The Founding Fathers NEVER intended for this country to be run by massive corporations and oligarchs. Every signer of the Declaration of Independence would object to the power Exxon-Mobil, Bank of America, and others exert on our economy, our political system, and our everyday life.

They system as it has evolved is patently unfair.

There is a de facto royal class in the the US. There has been for years, but the thing is, it's getting smaller, not bigger. How can concentration of this much capital in the hands of a few families be a good thing for the rest of us?

You can let your distaste for the personal style and questionable hygiene of the Occupy crowd dictate your feelings for them. Or you can listen to what they're saying. They're making some pretty good points.

RTGolden
RTGolden

What's so great about socialists anyway?

Weren't some of the greatest socialists Josef Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Fidel Castro, Yuri Andropov, 'and the rest'? Do we really want these guys back? I don't.

It's very easy to assassinate an ideology when you use selective criteria, such as leaving out men of good character when listing notables of that ideology.  As to the rest of what you said, most of the technological advances which served to bring us out of the cold water flats and tenements we owe to capitalism.  I think maybe the OD'ers should get a clear message of exactly what they are proposing, instead of indiscriminately bashing anyone who questions them.

Albert
Albert

It would me more accurate to describe yourself as "anti-robber baron".

Me, I'm "anti-bad people". Covers it all.

Brian
Brian

Without capitalism you would not have been able to type the anti-capitalist statement you just made,  Capitalism built everything you enjoy today.  I think it's the abuse of capitalism that should concern you and much of your anger should be focused on our federal government that has grown much too large and influential in our daily lives.  Corporations can not enact laws but they can buy influence and that seems to me is the problem.  A huge federal government with unlimited power that can be bought is a scary thing.

Tom-hendricks
Tom-hendricks

The Dallas Observer could put up the money.  I think we are seeing that Dallas Observer is really very conservative.

phe_75034
phe_75034

The Dallas Observer, like a great many media outlets, is barely scraping by. I think if you got Anna, Wilonsky, and Pete Freedman together, they could probably buy you lunch. And, while $500 ain't a lot of dough, I don't think it's incumbent on the Observer to front it.

The Observer isn't old-time Pravda, or "The Revolutionary Age", but to say its "...really very conservative." is a little silly, don't you think?

Anna Merlan
Anna Merlan

If we get all of the editorial staff together, possibly we can spring for a burrito at Tacos Y Mas. He can't get all crazy with the side orders or the extra-large sodas though. I'll drive, but he's not touching my stereo.   

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

If those two unwashed d-bags are representative of Occupy Dallas, I certainly don't want them speaking for my generation.

Occupy a shower and razor.

You want to be taken seriously? Look the part. Otherwise I can't tell the difference from Widespread Panic show photos.

phe_75034
phe_75034

Scruff, you're sounding a lot like a middle-aged white guy. Listen to the message. Why are you getting caught up in appearances and the pre-judgements that go along with them?

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Life is about appearances and prejudgements--harsh and cold but more true than anyone wants to admit. If I'm going to accept them acting like they speak for my generation, they need to do a hell of alot better than looking like they're at ACL.

Perception matters.

phe_75034
phe_75034

You're missing the point. Perception matters if you're trying to sell something.

These folks are trying to raise the collective awareness of what they (and I) see as the disenfranchisement of the average American. The usurping of the powers and rights guaranteed by law by a small group of business people who haven't had to worry about making a mortgage payment for 3 generations. The growth of the government-industrial complex (to paraphrase the last President who didn't sell his soul to get into the office) to exert influence, if not outright control, over our economy, our political system, and our daily lives.

If you choose to ignore these folks because their sense of style (and hygiene) doesn't match yours, well, Scruff, that may be your problem.

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

Jesus had long hair and a beard.

Just saying.

Albert
Albert

Almost everyone of the time had long hair and a beard, even the women.

Daily Reader
Daily Reader

That's old and used up.....it's the comment used almost every time long hair comes up.

jfpo
jfpo

You forgot to tell them to get a haircut.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

I'd be impressed if the one dude peeled the shipping label off the cardboard.

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