At Feel-Good Hearing, City and Occupy Dallas Hash Out Deal to Move Downtown Campsite

Categories: The Courts

NewOccupyDallasLocation.jpg
If you need one of Dallas's occupiers come Sunday evening, this is where they'll be.
A hearing this morning at the Earle Cabell could have been a First Amendment showdown over Occupy Dallas's right to remain in Pioneer Park in downtown. Instead, it became a simple formality after protesters came to a late-night agreement to move to a plot of city-owned land at Akard and Canton, behind City Hall, per a request from the city.

Lawyers from both sides complimented each other's willingness to compromise in a conversation that sounded very much like a hug feels.

The two sides are working together to file a settlement that would allow protesters to keep the movement going in accordance with requests from the city. They hope to outline an agreement as early as this afternoon, though it may come as late as Monday, after which Team Occupy will dismiss the case.

"I appreciate the fact that you've worked together with this group," Judge Jane Boyle said to attorneys for the city.

Porta-Johns and the city's sprinkler systems came up in casual chatter between attorneys after the hearing, and quality of life issues will be addressed in the agreement -- though it's doubtful the city will bend on its rule against washing clothing in the fountain on City Hall Plaza. No one wants to see that.

As it stands now, protesters will move their camp from Pioneer Park to the new location on Sunday, lawyers told Unfair park after this morning's hearing. No formal agreement's in place yet, as there are myriad issues to work out, such as: Where will the protesters go to use the bathroom? (Not City Hall, as it won't be allowed, but the library and downtown farmers market will be available, and Occupy Dallas is said to be working with a private land owner downtown to set up portable restrooms.) And: The city will have to change when it turns on the automatic sprinklers that water the grass surrounding the horseshoe-shaped lot behind City Hall. (Right now, they go off in early-morning hours, per the city's own watering regulations.)

An agreement will be sent to the court some time between now and this weekend, say city attorneys, who will fax it to Judge Boyle's court. If they comply with the agreement, the protesters can stay at the new location for up to 60 days, an offering Jonathan Winocour, pro bono lawyer for Occupy Dallas, calls "gracious."

"A sustained whisper is going to be more powerful than a brief shout," he said, though he added that gaining consensus from the protesters to work with the city and change locations was "not easy."

That's the difficulty of working with a grassroots group. "There really is no top-down structure," he said, so majority consensus is necessary for everything.

"I had to exercise my powers of persuasion, [and] if I can't hold that consensus for the next 36 hours, I don't know what kind of shape we're in," Winocour said. He said he stressed to the group that this does not have to be a "zero sum game."

"Things progress through compromise," he said. "This is about the confrontation with corporate America," not with the city or the police.

"They feel like the American Dream is gone," added Cameron Gray, who also represents Occupy Dallas.

But everybody's been so nice. How long can this last? Is this usual?

"I think it's unusual for everybody involved," Winocour said.

Attorneys for the city nodded along with most of what Winocour said. "The city is a proud supporter" of First Amendment rights and of giving people the freedom to express their views, said First Assistant City Attorney Chris Bowers. "We are striving to work with [Occupy Dallas]. ... They appear to have been more reasonable than their counterparts in other cities."

"Remarkably, I don't feel like I even need to rebut," Winocour said when Bowers finished speaking.


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20 comments
Cary Vibbert
Cary Vibbert

I went down to pioneer park for Occupy Dallas because they made a deal with the city to move their protest somewhere more convenient for the city. What ever lawyer arranged this deal has sentenced Occupy Dallas to it's death. I saw where the City is allowing protesters to stay for 60 days it's fenced and roped off with caution taped making 10ft circles around trees. Everyone was scared of being arrested on Sunday for civil disobedience but the Occupiers have been practicing civil disobedience since the beginning! How foolish it was to leave! Besides Occupiers, what are you going to do in 60 days when the city no longer allows your protest?

Occupiers played right into their trap, the city got away without arresting anyone plus the Occupiers are in a much more controllable location. Now the city is going to sit it out and wait for the Occupiers to move on. 

These signs of our distress don't allow complacency, we need restoration now of our integrity and a drastic bold reminder of our morality. The rectifying troop is here, the ones we have needed all these years to stop the heinous wrongdoings and verify our moral benevolence as a people.

dallasmay
dallasmay

They really should have negotiated for a better location. 

Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

It's silly not to allow port toilets for health reason.We don't need waste around.

Harlan Campbell
Harlan Campbell

I thought there was a law that banned sleeping in public in Dallas! Why doesn't Dallas arrest these people instead of giving them permission to do something that would get a Dallas citizen arrested?

bbetzen
bbetzen

If they can help bring attention to the fact that those with incomes over half a million in Texas only pay 3% of their income in state and local taxes, while the 20% at the bottom of the income scale in Texas pay over 12% of their income in state and local taxes, it is worth it.   This is a noble cause.  Yes, there are organizational realities about it that lessen the message, but the core message is solid.  The wealthy in Texas are not paying their proportional tax burden, and the poor are overwhelmed.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

 Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute.

1. Jim, how much is this going to cost the taxpayers? Are they going to ruin the grass? Sod ain't free, people.

2. Does the City have a number for how much this has already cost us --if anything--in additional cops, legal memos, the whole enchilada?

3. If the OD crowd wants real change, give up the pretending to be hippies shtick. Been there, got the t-shirt. Go home and organize. Set up informational meetings and seminars. 4. Or just get bored, frozen or tired and then look like weaklings.

5. Take victory while you still can. Say something like, "Thank you, Dallas, for allowing us a chance to open your eyes to real possible change (once we decide what that really looks like). We are moving on to our second phase, education of the masses. Please join us as we  organize and work towards making this country better. We will set up a small office at _____________, and we offer you a chance to meet with us and share your vision, too. "

Wouldn't that look all grown up and tangible? Or you could pretend that you are in a different city in a different decade. I lived here in the 1960's, and when one thinks of protest, Dallas was not really that big of  deal....

james
james

obedient protesters??!!  i s'pose nobody's interested in shutze's map. i vote to set up street races in preston hollow.

jfpo
jfpo

Well, shit. This should about pitchforks and torches, not frisbees and iPads.

Mike
Mike

They are going to love being next to Fire Station #4. Do not plan on sleeping through the entire night any night. Beyond the everyday stupidity the station handles, every time it rains, some twit does something to himself and that station gets the call. Farmers Market is a long way to go to use a bathroom. Did I mention the semis and motorcycles without mufflers rolling up and down I-30?

Keep the faith, do not drink liquids before bedtime, and get some earplugs.

guest
guest

Maybe they should move to McKiney Avenue or somewhere else that people visit and they might actually be noticed.  The grassy area in the midlldle of Northpark?

thufir_hawat
thufir_hawat

What do we want? Incremental Change!When do we want it? In due course!

Ray
Ray

Everybody sing...KUM BA YAH MY LORD, KUM BA YAH........

roadsidecouch
roadsidecouch

You expect the libtards to pay for the disposal of their turds?

Albert
Albert

So these protestors are Taxed Enough Already?

Where do you get these figures?

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

It's a home game, so I'm guessing most of them will be at Valley Ranch.

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