Occupy Dallas Addresses Need to Keep a Clean, Safe Camp Amidst Sexual Assault Allegations

ODOutsideLewSterrett.jpg
Photo by Anna Merlan
Occupy Dallas protestors outside Lew Sterrett yesterday following the arrest of 23 at a downtown Chase bank branch
Several news outlets have reported in recent days that the Dallas Police Department is investigating the possible sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl at the Occupy Dallas camp near City Hall. The original report, from KTVT-Channel 11, cited an anonymous source within the police department who said that a 14-year-old girl had been staying at the camp. She initially told officers that she had sex with a man in his early 20s and, per the CBS11 report, "engaged in sexual activity with several other people."

According to the report, she is now refusing to cooperate with investigators. The news has since been picked up by both the Occupy Wall Street homepage and a host of conservative news blogs, including Glenn Beck outfit The Blaze and Breitbart TV. As of this morning, city spokesperson Frank Librio would only say: "Police are investigating." But the City Attorney's Office, which has an agreement with Occupy Dallas allowing them to set up camp behind Dallas City Hall, is watching to make sure they don't violate that deal.

"Really at this point, everything is all hearsay and rumor," said 26-year-old Michael Prestonise, who's part of the group's communications committee and is acting as a spokesman. "What I've heard is that a girl showed up with several people, [including] her boyfriend, and alleged that she was 19. ... She stayed for about a day and a half. Sunday morning, the police came and put her in handcuffs."

It was only then, he said, that the camp learned that she was a 14-year-old runaway. This version of events was repeated by four other Occupy Dallas protesters over the course of the day yesterday, in separate interviews at both their camp and outside Lew Sterrett, where about 20 of them waited for news on people who had been arrested outside Chase Bank around midday.

Prestonise said that although the Occupy Camp was still awaiting final word from the police on what had happened, the incident crystallized concerns the core group of occupiers have about knowing exactly who's present in the camp at all times.

"We're in the process of establishing a registration process to identify who are actual members versus who are outsiders," he said.

Compounding that problem, he said, "DPD, homeless shelters and Lew Sterrett are all directing people here. We've had several people show up and say that was the case, that they were sent there by a homeless shelter or by a DPD officer. We don't have official names or badge numbers yet, but we know the DART police are sending people here as well."

Prestonise had several explanations for why police and homeless shelters would refer people to Occupy Dallas.

"On one hand, I can see a sort of, 'Hey, there's a place that will give you food and shelter,'" he said. "On the other hand, it definitely does disrupt our day-to-day operations. We worry that people will have to look over their shoulders, or worry that people will walk away with our equipment. We've identified that as an issue."

Another occupier, Aaron, 34, also said he had been told by several homeless people that they were referred by police to the Occupy Dallas Camp.

"This has been going on all over the country to try and break up the movement," he said. He felt the police were deliberately introducing "unsavory types" into the camp. "We try to stay nonviolent here," he said. "But if they're putting violent people in here, it gives them excuses to break it up."

Prestonise said that every day more and more people from North Texas arrive, "asking what can we do, can we donate, we want to stay a couple hours to support you." But if people are found to be underage, "we'll ask those people to leave, to return home or to shelters from where they came."

He also criticized the media portrayal of Occupy encampments as "free-for-alls, with free love in every tent," or as seedy dens "filled with rapists and pedophiles."

"When I first heard about [the alleged assault]," he said, "it definitely was a concern to me. If we find people in the camp who admit to having relations with that girl, I'm going to identify them to police and turn them over for arrest. We're definitely enforcing and making a point that people don't break the penal code, that people obey the laws of the city," including, he said, the 11 p.m. weeknight curfew for children under 17.

"The unfortunate reality is that when stuff like that happens, it dilutes the message," Prestonise said. "People forget what we're here for."

The city, of course, is keeping a close eye on all of this -- both the police investigation into the alleged assault and yesterday's arrests.

"If the law-abiders in the group will disassociate themselves from the law-breakers, we'll be happy to work with the law-abiders," says First Assistant City Attorney Chris Bowers, who reminds that his office isn't the only one involved in the decision-making process. "And if they don't, our chances of continuing to work with the Occupy Dallas movement certainly diminish greatly."

My Voice Nation Help
114 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
Jon Chisum
Jon Chisum

Occupy Dallas is very hard to describe. Just be aware that everything that we talk a lot about everything, and we are trying to determine the best course of action as a group. The problem is not the homeless, it is the vagrants.

Buckeye
Buckeye

Are Uptown's 30K millionaires considered part of the 1%?

Travis Rex
Travis Rex

You're thinking of the douche %'s..

Take a Bath! Please!!!!!!!!
Take a Bath! Please!!!!!!!!

Went to Dallas City Hall today. Walked where those protesters have their tents. Boy, that area smells like urine. Those people need a bath!!!! BAD!!!!!!!

Harry
Harry

These protesters just don't get it. This is Texas, they can protest but once they break the law they are going to be arrested. If they even try to get rough with police in this city don't expect these officers to turn the other cheek. It just won't happen. The bottom line here is these protesters can protest 24-7 all year long as long as they don't break the law. But, once they start breaking the law they will be arrested.

Templar
Templar

Occupy Dallas is spinning their wheels messing with those banks. Little do they know that a main portion of the real power in Dallas is but a few blocks away from their city hall campground. I’d hate to see what would happen if these protesters would try to mess with the huge building located at 500 S. Harwood Street – Headquarters of: Scottish Rite of Freemasonry – Valley of Dallas – Occupy Dallas! Don’t Mess With These Good Old Boys!!! And Please Stay Off Their Properties Located in Downtown Dallas.

Notasheeplikeu
Notasheeplikeu

I wonder how many of you 1% appologizers are anywhere near the 1% in terms of income. My guess is that you want to be in the 1%, therefore you fight for the 1%. I bet my hippie ass brings in more money than 80% of you. Have fun going through life with blinders on!

Pecos_Drifter
Pecos_Drifter

Then you won't mind giving me money...right, please leave your address so I can come by and pick up about $1000 bucks, I'll need it in $20's and since you care so much I'll need another $1000 each week for oh the rest of my life......and a bitchin car stereo too.....if you don't pay your a liar.....to make it easy I can furnish you with a Paypal account number so you can transfer it online.....unless your just full of sh*t......pay up you damn dirty hippie

Notasheeplikeu
Notasheeplikeu

I give you money through my income taxes and social security taxes. You can thank me while you sit at home and collect your disabilty checks you stupid, uneducted, redneck. Keep taking up for the people who don't give two shits about you or your family. I hope for your sake you never have to go through tough times. You're the type that would just quit trying and kill your family before you turn the gun on yourself. Do the world a favor and just go with the latter.

Pecos_Drifter
Pecos_Drifter

Actually I have a nice house and paid my own way and don't take hand outs, people like you are the ones being lead by the nose moron......also if you notice I didn't bring anything into this about family but you did, say's a lot about you, insecure pathetic and proves your lead by the nose.....enjoy

RTGolden
RTGolden

He could be a former sports writer for the Dallas Observer......

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Unless you're a professional athlete, chances are to make what you claim it requires some sort of writing ability and realizing that perception is important. It's obvious you don't, so, since you've made it clear it's okay to make broad generalizations with nothing to back it up, I'm calling you a liar.

But feel free to make up a profession where you can make more than 80% of people and write like a moron and act like a twit.

Notasheeplikeu
Notasheeplikeu

Sorry old man. I was unaware that internet grammar was qualification for income. I guess I should send the checks back when they come in the mail. Do you have anything to add or are you skimming the internet while you collect social security? BTW, I am not protesting anything. I just think it's funny that people, who make less than a teacher in McKinney, take up for the greedy corporations that aren't paying their fair share of taxes. Don't worry though you will still get your check for a few more years. Maybe.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

So you're protesting financial elitism with an elitist prick attitude?

And it's really hard to believe you'd out-earn 80% of anyone with those writing skills.

Notasheeplikeu
Notasheeplikeu

This movement has nothing to do with handouts you moron. It has to do with the top 1% owning the government and brainless idiots like you who will defend them until you are broke too. By the way, just because i bring in more money than 80% of you, it doesn't necessarily mean I am in the top 1% ,but then agian, I wouldn't expect you to figure that out. You're welcome for the six packs of Natural Light I provide you every month while you look out your trailer window, surveying your broken down cars in your yard.

Pecos_Drifter
Pecos_Drifter

Gee what a bummer dude......and your a complete fraud and idiot......but your funny to laugh at.....again, you stated "I bet my hippie ass brings in more money than 80% of you"....your the 1%, pay up fraud

JuanLiberale
JuanLiberale

Occupy Dallas is reporting that the sheriff is directing recently released inmates to go live at the Occupy camp site. It looks like they are trying to inject a criminal element to cause trouble.

Travis Rex
Travis Rex

How do you prove that?  And what is the distinction between ordinary people and the OD protesters? If this whole thing is for the "common man" to benefit from, I don't see how anyone has the right to determine who is and is not allowed at a protest.  Anyway..need more proof than the word of a OD "organizer" on this one...

Travis Rex
Travis Rex

I could care less about Russ Martin..that whole letter was so poorly written, it just makes OD look like retards.. REALLY.

Panther Ascot
Panther Ascot

Russ Martin is an idiot. A clueless beater of woman and he wants to cast judgment. If he had been there he would have banged the kid then probably beat her just to you know, "keep it white trash" 

Travis Rex
Travis Rex

Did you actually read that?  So the author has a "predilection" for the police?  And DPD is full of "philosophers" for which their selection process should be commended? There are "productive" homeless people? 

"Occupy Dallas finds the comments of a shock jock that has been convicted for assaulting a female to be otherwise inconsequential. "

WTF does this have to do with anything? 

These are the people in charge of OD?  Really?  Not quite a "distinguished" piece of writing to say the least.

Templar
Templar

These protesters are against capitalism, right? So, can they please explain exactly what they are proposing to replace capitalism with?

KK
KK

They are protesting Plutocracy, not capitalism.

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

The issue isn't capitalism.  Capitalism is good.  It's the best economic system that humans have yet devised, because it provides everyone with the opportunity to increase their own value.

The issue is immoral and unethical capitalism.  Market manipulation, as practiced by the banks in recent years, erodes the underpinnings of capitalism by creating false value.  When that false value is then exchanged for something of real value, such as a house, both sides in the exchange end up with less:  the owner of the house has an asset that he or she can't liquidate, and the owner of the false value (see derivative) has his or her asset disappear. 

This is the point that we reached a few years ago when the derivatives market tanked.  Suddenly, all of that false value that had been created disappeared, and the banks appealed to the government for relief.  They got it, and were able to continue doing business as usual.  The owners of the real assets in question took it in the shorts too, but there was no corresponding assistance to them. 

That's the root of the issue, I think:  Why should the government be in the business of supporting the companies that created this mess, while doing nothing to assist the individual citizens who were affected by predatory lending, exorbitant interest rates, and manipulated markets?

RTGolden
RTGolden

You forgot to mention the other people who are to blame.  The ones who accepted the mortgages they couldn't afford.  The people who felt they were entitled to live in McMansions even though they should have known they couldn't afford properties in those price ranges.  Sure the mortgage service companies used dodgey math to show how they could make the payments, and maybe, just maybe the interest rate would go down before their ARM locked in.  Trouble is, basic Jr. High math competency would have shown that they couldn't afford the mortgage, and interest rates (from the bank) NEVER go down on an ARM.  If Americans weren't such entitlement minded people, there would have been no high risk mortgages to bundle up into shady derivatives.  I would have loved to buy a house sometime in the last 5-6 years, fortunately, I did the math myself and knew the mortgages were crap.

RTGolden
RTGolden

It's a "chicken or egg" argument.  One could not have occured without the other, which came first?In this case, under the Clinton Administration, Fannie and Freddie relaxed the standards by which they approved loan underwriting.  This was done primarily to indulge the entitlement mentality, not the predatory lending.  When loan qualifications were kept high, requiring verifiable income and credit worthiness, predatory lending could not exist in the mortgage market.  People demanded the homes, government relaxed the standards, predatory lending emerged.  Idiocy and amorality on all three sides, yes, but the demand (entitlement) was there first.

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

There's a difference between feeling a sense of entitlement and being lied to by realtors, mortgage brokers, and bankers.  The only thing we're entitled to is the truth.  Blaming the victim of a lie for failing to understand the consequences of that lie is a false equivalency. 

Yes, perhaps people who lost their homes and retirement funds due to this should have exercised more due diligence.  However, without the unethical actions of the financial services people in the first place, the problem would not have occurred. 

Notasheeplikeu
Notasheeplikeu

Very nicely said. I would love for one of you OW haters to refute it. But it won't happen because the haters can see that you are articulate and can back up your statement with facts, something they know nothing about because they only watch Fox News.

Mike
Mike

You are confusing the derivatives market with the market for the actual assets in debt.  The only money the government provided to derivatives was via the 80% stake taken in AIG so it would honor its credit default swaps.  That 80 billion did go to that business because otherwise the global banking system could have collapsed in a weekend. The government is gradually getting that money back by sales of AIG assets and the IPO this year.  It'll probably be close and the question answered 10 years from now was was that difference worth saving the system in a rushed decision.  After action critics saying the Feds should have just told the CDS holders to file a lawsuit do not have a good grasp of the situation at that time.

As for direct bank bailouts, almost all that money was repaid with substantial interest.  The bank bailouts were one of the best investments the Feds made over the last few years.  Other funds as for WAMU from FDIC were part of deals to get big banks to take over other banks to minimize overall impact to FDIC.  Those deals mitigated losses compared to FDIC just taking the bank.

As for getting free money from the Fed, very few banks get that money.  They do benefit from a low Fed Funds rate if they need cash.  As the NYT noted yesterday, banks are awash in cash from deposits.  Not much borrowing from the Fed.  Additionally the low rates are from the Fed to keep down consumer rates and coincidentally the interest expense to the Federal government, the biggest debtor of them all.

BTS
BTS

I see so many negative comments on here toward Occupy Dallas. You all sound like a bunch of whinny scare douche bags. I am glad they are protesting the top 1% who just want more and more. We get less and less. Sound to me that the police are using chicken shit tactics. Most homeless are mentally ill and the police know they will do the disrupting of Occupy Dallas for them. I am glad OWS moment has turn the public discussion away from the Debt to real issues like Jobs, Some of you fools should read up on the American labor movement. What is going on now is nothing compare to what has gone on in the past.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Even the American Labor movement doesn't believe in the American Labor movement anymore.  When one of the Houston locals of the AFL-CIO built a new Local House, they used ONLY non-union carpenters, plumbers, electricians and laborers.  Why?  Union legacy costs make using union labor too expensive......... for Unions!

Could Care Less
Could Care Less

if you ever filled out an application that I had to review and it had that many grammatical errors and misspellings.....I would not give you a job either.  Seriously.... who are you calling a fool when you yourself hasn't mastered the level of English skills required to graduate high school?

bj9mac
bj9mac

Don't hate the hippies, they didn't break shit. My momma ain't on welfare, but your bank is.

http://www.seiu.org/a/profilec...

CheeryBitch
CheeryBitch

You know so little about the bailouts. Stick to the popular opinion, should serve you well.......

Notasheeplikeu
Notasheeplikeu

Go home and watch Fox News while you frig your quim.

bj9mac
bj9mac

Please, enlighten us all with your knowledge.

Way to go Libtards
Way to go Libtards

Hilarious how the naive white libtard "advocacy journalists" at the DO hate the idea of having to show an ID to vote but think it's a-ok to require ID at their "occupation".

RTGolden
RTGolden

Almost as hilarious as naive white conservatives who stand for small government voted in Reagan and Bush redux: The presidents who oversaw the greatest expansion of federal government since the end of the Depression.Hypocrisy is apolitical and ambidextrous.  Real change will come when Americans realize that the political class has rooked them into providing careers and retirements based on fleecing the public and stop voting in Republicans or Democrats.  The goal of an elected rep or dem is exactly the same: get re-elected.Turn off Rush, and remember: take the tinfoil off your head before sticking it in the microwave.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

6.1 Trillion Dollars under George W.  but we never hear about THAT!

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

1. How much stock do these people own in the Fortune 500  companies they despise? If they own some, do they go to the stockholder's meetings? If not, why not? 2. Do any of them own small businesses? If so, tell us. We can NOT buy from a big box store if you have something we want or need.

3. Did they vote in the last election? And the last LOCAL election, the last DISD trustee election? Will they vote next month on the dozen proposed Texas Consitutional amendments? 4. Blocking a door gets you media coverage, and it turns a lot of people off. I will say it again: You want change? Then go to a depressed part of Dallas, rent a small storefront and set up shop. Make your ideas appoachable. Right now, you come across as angry, disallusioned wanna-be hippies, who have no idea what to do. Prove us old farts wrong and get organized.

5. "The whole world is watching!" is from the summer of 1968. Like I tell my students, "Copying is not allowed. Be original."  Come up with a new saying, because in real life, the whole world is NOT watching.

Seeing is Believing
Seeing is Believing

It's weird how all the "occupy" bowel movement apologists claim they aren't all a bunch of dirty hippie losers, but somehow every photo proves them to be a bunch of dirty hippie losers.

its coming
its coming

thats what the media would have you believe.. its really just a bunch of little ole grannies..

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

Seeing is Beliving:  I thought that those tea party schizoids were the bowel movement that you were talking about.  I mean those people are truly a self righteous sack of **it.

Rtgolden
Rtgolden

That isn't really an effective retort to the statement above.  Basically you showed that you can be just as spiteful, hateful, defensive and ineffective as the previous poster.Perhaps you could have pointed out that many OD supporters do have jobs, and are at those jobs during most of these protests.  Perhaps you could have claimed that their unwashed, unkempt appearance is a statement against the corporate injustices levied against them.  Probably not a good idea to immediately alienate a group of people (Tea party, as originally intended) who mouthed the same concerns you do.

Please up the level of your argument, it's truly difficult for me to play both roles, protagonist and antagonist.

its coming
its coming

dudez, sometimes you wake'n'bake'n'ya just don't feel like washin'...

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

I stand rightly stand corrected.  I have lowered myself to the level of Seeing.  I do indeed agree with some of the tea party members-- my biggest concern is that they (the tea party) have neglected the local shinanigans that occure.

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...