Breaking: City of Dallas Boots Occupy Dallas From Their Campsite Behind City Hall

Categories: News, Politics
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All photos by Robert Wilonsky
The scene outside, and around, Dallas City Hall at 12:40 a.m.
Robert's downtown at the Occupy Dallas camp, where police are breaking up protestors as we speak. He sends along these photos, and this:
City has yanked their agreement with Occupy Dallas, and they're currently giving the camp the boot. Police are stationed at every entrance, and around City Hall. No cars in and out. Right now, they're packing up tents. City has given them time to vacate.
More forthcoming, as Robert's on the scene...

Update 12:11 a.m.: There are cops mounted and stacked along City Hall -- getting ready for God knows what.

Update 12:21 a.m.: Some of the occupiers have formed barricades using chairs and tables and will not leave willingly. Glynn Wilcox, one of the Occupy Dallas spokespersons, told those who are willing to vacate the premises that they will be safely escorted to a separate area, where they can wait and gather their things. Those who will not leave willingly "will be escorted about by DPD." Said Wilcox, sarcastically: "This is what democracy looks like." To which someone replied, "This is what bullshit looks like."

Update 12:29 a.m.: Over the bullhorn, DPD orders media to leave Occupy Dallas camp. From Robert: "Doubt I'll leave. I'm standing next to Dallas Morning News's Roy Appleton, who also refuses to leave."

Update 12:39 a.m: Media has been told to leave the camp -- otherwise they'll be arrested. Robert, and others who'd prefer not to be cuffed, are gathered across the street. Police warned that they couldn't "guarantee safety."

Update 12:53 a.m.: On Akard and Canton there are two rows of cops in riot gear, officers on horseback beneath the back of city hall, cops on motorcycles all 'round -- all of them prepared to enter the camp at any minute. Updates forthcoming.

Update 1:15 a.m.: City council member Angela Hunt is on the premises. She read about the eviction on Twitter, and confirms city council members did not receive the eviction notice until 11:45 p.m., the same time First Assistant City Attorney Chris Bowers sent the same letter to Occupy Dallas's legal rep, attorney Jonathan Winocour. Raid scheduled to begin in moments. Question is: Did DMN reporter Roy Appleton jump back in the camp? DPD just warned him over the loud speaker to leave the campsite "immediately," lest he be arrested. (Appleton had gone back to get his car, and we were told later that, yes, he did leave the campsite proper before the raid went down.) Winocour, via WFAA: This is reminiscent of a "nascent police state."

Update 1:28 a.m.: Angela Hunt told Unfair Park she is "extremely disappointed" by the fact that Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm did not mention that the raid would take place until 11:45, especially since "obviously the plan had been made before then." Winocour tells Hunt, "this seems like a grossly disproportionate use of force." Hunt's response: "Ya think?"

Update 1:34 a.m: Officers in full riot gear are inside the camp. They appear to be making sure no one has left. It also appears that there are more cops than tents...

Update 1:48 a.m: So, it's beginning to wind down. TV crew's are packing up their cameras, police are packing up their riot gear, and a few paddy wagons are hauling Occupiers to Lew Sterrett.. Robert's heard of at least three that were arrested, maybe more. Press will most likely be briefed later this morning. No doubt we will hear further from City Manager Mary Suhm as she proceeds to explain (to at least one angry council member) how the hell this happened. 

Update 2:01 a.m. Operations are winding down. DPD's dispersed after arresting 17 members of Occupy Dallas who refused to leave, according to one DPD spokesman on the scene.

Update at 3:09 a.m.: From the Occupy Dallas Facebook page:

There seems to be some division on twitter in our movement. This is the only statement OccupyDallas.org will make on FB: We were notified by the media of the raid an hour before cops arrived. When the media team arrived we discovered a group of members had abandoned the camp several hours before. They removed their tents before the police announced the raid. The @OccupyDallas admin user apparently left with them. None of the small group returned to support the protesters arrested on site or stand with them to be arrested. Our Twitter account released a tweet claiming the press contact, Michael Prestonise and blogger/FB admin DBCOOPA are "police informants." Although not confirmed, the current belief is that they were somehow informed of the raid hours in advance of the media, left Occupy Dallas with their gear. The individuals arrested defending the camp tonight were astonished to find this group left them behind. We have no further interest in commenting on this and are going to move forward with demonstrations. The time of these demonstrations will be announced shortly. The @occupydallas is no longer affiliated with this FB account or OccupyDallas.org.
Update at 6 a.m. (Joe Tone): Looks like I slept through an eventful night. The upside of my weariness, aside from seven solid hours? I'm now awake to share a most thorough statement from city spokesman Frank Librio, which you'll find before the additional photos below. Stay tuned, obviously.
CITY OF DALLAS STATEMENT: OCCUPY DALLAS

The City of Dallas has made every effort at each juncture of the Occupy Dallas situation over the past six weeks to support the group's ability to express its First Amendment rights. The City's approach and response to this situation have been cited by observers to be a model for other cities experiencing similar circumstances associated with the Occupy movement.

Occupy demonstrations have occurred over many weeks and led to erection of encampments in many cities, including Dallas. Generally, overnight camping and sleeping in public are not allowed on public property and are not associated with First Amendment rights. However, the City of Dallas worked with Occupy Dallas' legal representatives to reach an agreement which allowed the encampment behind City Hall, for a limited period of time, as long as conditions of the agreement were in strict compliance.

Despite repeated attempts by the City asking for compliance, some individuals associated with Occupy Dallas have violated the agreement. Criminal offenses have also occurred and are documented in the attachment.

Compounding the criminal offenses and breaches of the agreement, there have been health concerns materializing at the encampment in regards to the buildup of trash and inadequate sanitary conditions that, if allowed to continue, could have lead to serious health issues for participants.

Most concerning, Dallas Police Department officials and members of the DPD Crisis Intervention Team have observed and had been told by individuals inside the encampment that there was increasing dissension and strife among various factions. Serious safety issues, including criminal activity, have been of paramount concern. Initially, the demonstrators maintained a peaceful posture toward the public, officers and each other. Over time, violent incidents have occurred. These occurrences became more frequent and created a substantial threat to the public and to demonstrators camping at the Occupy Dallas site.

For the safety of each individual at the encampment, the police and members of the public, it was determined to terminate the agreement and disband the encampment. This action does not affect the group's First Amendment right as any group is allowed to express its freedom of speech and demonstrate on public property during most hours of each day. It is against City ordinances to sleep in public or be in a public park or on City Hall property from midnight to 5am.

The enforcement began at approximately midnight (Thursday morning). Police made several announcements, over a 90 minute period of time, via loud speakers asking for demonstrators to leave. Police allowed for individuals to pack their belongings and property and gave repeated warnings to vacate the site during that time period. Those individuals that did not heed the multiple warnings were arrested shortly after 1:30 am (Thursday morning). 18 people were arrested without resistance and acted peacefully. The demonstrators' property has been catalogued and will be secured in either the police department's property room or at the auto pound.

The Crisis Intervention Team assisted 7 individuals in obtaining shelter.

Planning for a variety of contingencies has been ongoing since the demonstrators first began their protests. The Police Department developed plans based on their experience and training, along with consultation from other cities dealing with the Occupy movement. However, it was not determined until late Wednesday evening to place a plan in action. The previously stated reasons were instrumental in the final determination to enact the operation. The police presence was appropriate for the situation, facilitating compliance while ensuring officer and demonstrator safety.

A news conference will be held at 10:00 am Thursday at Dallas Police Department Headquarters in the media room.

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Angela Hunt being interviewed by KXAS-Channel 5's Scott Gordon, shortly before the raid went down
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All photos by Robert Wilonsky
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Robert Wilonsky

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146 comments
dallasmay
dallasmay

From the city of dallas about the disbandment of Occupy Dallas:"This action does not affect the group's First Amendment right as any group is allowed to express its freedom of speech and demonstrate on public property during most hours of each day. "

It's good to hear that the freedom of speech still exists, so long as that speech is done in a manner that city hall approves of and at a time they approve of.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Where in the Constitution does it say you can express yourself ANYWHERE at ANYTIME and OCCUPY land that is not yours to control? There are limits to all rights, and they finally found theirs.

Nobody is keeping them from speaking. Nobody has stopped them from making signs. The City is just enforcing a law that we ALL have to abide by. They are no better than I am. They have NO more rights than I do.

Phillip
Phillip

HOORAY!  It's about time City Hall was cleaned out of the filth occupying the formerly nice green area.  Take these unbathed, whiney Marxist-wannabes and get them out of here!!

Montemalone
Montemalone

To all those wallowing in the victory of the police state over a few people trying to bring attention to the fucked up system that has put us all in the second great depression, remember this: those folks are no longer in tents downtown, so they'll now be back in circulation, in front of you at Starbucks while you wait to order your frou-frou coffee, driving their Volvo station wagons with too many bumper stickers in the left lane below the speed limit, holding up the line at the meat counter at Whole Foods while they debate the merits of grass fed, free range turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner, and trying on every pair of Uggs at Nordstrom to make sure their stupid shoes aren't to snug or too loose while you wait to get your new pair of cap toes.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Oh, stop the drama. Polcice state? Have you ever BEEN to a real police state? I have--East Germany, 1990. THAT was a police  state. This is Dallas. Get a grip.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

No way can the people I saw at OD afford Starbucks; they are shopping at Aldi and Fiesta, not Whole Foods and they are getting knock off Uggs at Kohl's, not Nordstrom's...

pak152
pak152

VerumSerum provides a list today of the mayhem created by OWShttp://www.verumserum.com/?p=3...

and as others have pointed out the Occupy folks' freedom of speech has not been abridged they can come out and protest during the day. The city is ending the campout and considering the list from VerumSerum Dallas is lucky they didn't suffer like other cities.Portland hauled away 70 dumptruck loads of garbage

The Observer
The Observer

Isn't it wierd that most people have to go to work and take care of their family while most low-lifes don't?  It's about time those moronic tools were booted out.  Nothing like having a squalor in front of city hall.  It was disgusting and yes, it stank.  Good riddance.

Albert
Albert

The meme that no-one was talking about the economic picture until #occupy showed up is complete bullshit.

People are talking about the movement, they were already aware of bailouts, etc. Sorry kids, but the Tea Party got there first and cost the taxpayer a helluva lot less.

The increased chatter is about the actions of this movement, not their wide range of concerns.

notyouthanks
notyouthanks

Tea what? Oh, you mean the pet chihuahuas of the Republican Party? Hey, how did that turn-back-the-clock-to the 1700s thing work out for you?

EDM
EDM

The Tea Party:  Vanguards of progressivism.

Albert
Albert

The elephant in the occupied living room is the fact that #occupy represents the views of thirty percent or less of Americans. The more radical socialist/marxist groups within #occupy represent at best less than ten percent.

But, audacity is in vogue, and this movement has the support of the Democratic political machine and the White House, so the flawed assumption that they represent the majority of Americans stems from the self-esteem supplied to them by politicians.

Leftists have always grossly overestimated their numbers.

Heavy Metal Church Lady
Heavy Metal Church Lady

"Although there is another solution: Twenty-five-hundred square feet sounds like enough room for a bunch of homeless revolutionaries, does it not?"Joe Tone's right. The #occupydallas people should contact Jim McCown about McLain's vacant lot and get a deal going. Mutual interests.

BTS
BTS

Hats off to the OWC protesters. They have people talking about Wall St. and big banks and have move some to action like moving their money out of large banks. People may criticize them, but they have been effective in bringing attention to the issues with our financial system.This is not the end to the anger that is out there.

Rangers100
Rangers100

People were already talking about that.  

Some kids and homeless people camped out and banged drums in parks.  And benefited from an extremely slow news month.  Then cops got them to go home.

Riveting.

scottindallas
scottindallas

Boy, I just saw plastic storage bins, filled with books, thrown in a dumpster.  That flatly contradicts the statement by the spox above.  Hell, just catalog it all and store it.  As I tell those who work for me, if I'm paying by the hour, "what do you care what we're doing, you're getting paid by the hour."

Daily Reader
Daily Reader

Do you think they'd do the same thing if they had to clean up I-pods or laptops?  I doubt they'd go in the dumpster. 

Montemalone
Montemalone

Yeah, reading is for sissies. Books are the work of the devil, filling minds with facts, thoughts, and ideas.

Daily Reader
Daily Reader

Guess they're afraid they might learn something.

Kevin John Gilhooly
Kevin John Gilhooly

I think the news media giving them coverage is causing the hype. The media doesn't cover vagrants being evicted unless they find it "newsworthy."

These are people who chose to be homeless. They're idiots.

Steve
Steve

I just don't see how this "movement" communicates their message, however valid it might be.   They're just....getting in the way?   I mean, I was over at Occupy SMU  - - -woops, no I wasn't, but anyway, can't they organize their platform and communicate their message in a manner that makes sense to me?

I probably agree with them, but do they have to be so stereotypically annoying?  That makes me less likely to listen.

They aren't SAYING anything.

notyouthanks
notyouthanks

Maybe you you just can't understand what they are saying. Because you have your head...

RTGolden
RTGolden

And still, after weeks of clamoring for some sort of clarification out of Occupy participants and supporters, we get this.  Instead of taking the opportunity to attempt to clarify what OD stood for, what Occupy protests, you instead turn to insulting people who express sympathy with your ideals, and only want something solid to hold on to.  This is, ultimately, why Occupy will fail.  Not from political repression or public apathy, but from ideological blurriness.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

The whole 99/1% argument has become pop culture cliche..Heres a suggestion: If you want to make a serious difference in the world, vote. Simple enough, takes less than 10 mins on election day, your guy or gal may or may not win, but you at least used your given American right. Another suggestion: Volunteer with the less fortunate not just here in America, but in less developed countries, see how the true other half lives in poverty and squalor. Once you perform those two tasks, then come and complain about being disenfranchised by corporate America...

scottindallas
scottindallas

Vote?  Are you fucking serious?  Which candidate will be the difference maker?  Douchebag, or Turd Sandwich?  In case you haven't noticed there's not a dime's worth of difference between the two parties.  This country is run on memes that are easily debunked, but you can't get a lick of sense into any of these debates.

Channel3
Channel3

Then formulate your own goals, Scott, find candidates willing to support them, and run a goddamn campaign.  Quit being so passive about our Democratic system and make a move on it instead of not voting.  To not vote, or criticize our Democracy, because the Ds and Rs are not putting up a candidate you like, is stupid.  To not accept the responsibility of possibly recruiting your own candidate you do believe in, is even more stupid.  If you don't like channel 1 or channel 2, then go make channel 3.

RTGolden
RTGolden

I'm not choosing to lose.  I choose to vote for candidates who aren't going to 'toe the party line'.  I simply do not believe there is one whit of difference between Republicans and Democrats.  They are there for the money and the power, and the political ideal they believe in is re-election.  They will never change from within.  The only surefire way to bring the radical ends back towards the middle is through independent voting pressure, in Congress.  We need a viable, strong, voting block in both Houses of at least 20% of the seats.  Then we need that block to stand fast and pull the left and right toward the middle.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Then continue to choose to lose. Pick candidates that have a chance at winning. Become a part of the system you hate and change it from within.

scottindallas
scottindallas

I would continue to vote for Ron Paul, Coburn, Bernie Sanders or even Dennis K. 

scottindallas
scottindallas

I hardly miss an election.  I vote 3rd party, as I believe that has a greater resonance than supporting, even reluctantly either head of the duo-poly. 

RTGolden
RTGolden

You will give up without even trying?  I vote.  I do not vote for republican or democrat in national elections.  Some say I am wasting my vote.  I say the only wasted vote is the one not cast.  If everyone who supports OWS and supported the TPers and everyone who bitches about high tax this or reduced spending that went out and voted for third, fourth party candidates, there would be changes made.

There is a lot being batted around about congressional term limits.  I myself advocate them.  As such, I refuse to vote for an incumbent congressman, state or national, who has been in office for more than twelve years. Period. At any level, in any House.  If everyone followed that policy, we'd have no need for term limits.  Since the bulk of the American population is swayed by ditzy ads on TV, however, our best hope for term limits is to cast them in Constitutional Concrete.

Fletch
Fletch

There's a considerable difference between showing up to vote on election day and "running a goddamn campaign" as you so eloquently put it.  I agree with scottindallas that neither major party can put up a candidate that is worth a shit.  That is a big part of why this country is starting to circle the drain.  Democrats and Republicans both are now in on the take and their elected offices are sold to those with the deepest pockets.  Corporations, special interests and the politicians seduced by their influence ($) are crippling this country while simultaneously fragmenting the voting populace into factions who fight with one another rather than see the real problem for what it is.  Hell, your actions support this point.  You'll get on here and call people lazy for thinking that our choices in the voting are generally awful.  I challenge you to turn off Fox News and pull your head out of your ass.  The saddest reality is that there isn't a snowball's chance in hell of actually overcoming the political machine that is firmly entrenched, so spare us the Channel 3 bullshit. 

Watching South Detroit
Watching South Detroit

To Angela Hunt - these people are are not those who make a great city.  They are NOT hard working, industrious types that the city needs.  From media pictures, these are the people that don't try to work, have no skills, that no one would hire anyway but who think they are "entitled" to a high paying job.  They will just go back to living in their parents basements and light one up. 

notyouthanks
notyouthanks

Oh, you can tell that from "media pictures", can you? That must be a lot easier than actully knowing what you're talking about.

OldWhiteyMcRight
OldWhiteyMcRight

Derr, anarchy is bad mkay.Socialism is bad, mkay.Derp.That's what the TV told me anyways.I trust my TV.And my Ford.Derp.

Rangers100
Rangers100

The Tea Party and GOP are a bunch of radical losers.

So is the OWS crowd.

Capn
Capn

City Manager Suhm and Mayor Rawlings usurped the City Council's authority in even making the absurd "Settlement Agreement" with Occupy Dallas in the first place.  They have needlessly exposed the City of Dallas to significant civil liability over incidents like the alleged rape of a 14 year old girl on the lawn of city hall!  Dallas wanted a "businessman" for mayor, and got this $#%!?! Suhm should be fired and Rawlings should be recalled.  They have by fiat saddled the taxpayers with a non-budgeted, non-funded, 'exclusive', members-only "welfare program" tailor-made for the squatters of Occupy Dallas.  By what authority did they WAIVE city ordinances in the first place? (answer: NONE).  How is that even legal?  How does the "average citizen" get in on that deal?  Surprise... Earth to Suhm, Rawlings, Hunt, Winocour, et al... it's called ANARCHY. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

notyouthanks
notyouthanks

It's actually called people you don't agree with saying things you don't like so you become an active voice in the smear campaign against them.

Joe L
Joe L

It looks like a well planned and executed action.  It's difficult to divine the inchoate demands of these particular Occupy folks. Do they think the city council can declare capitalism null and void? They were told they couldn't stay there indefinitely with tents and other paraphernalia, and this action seems appropriate.

Jonathan Winocur's comment about a nascent  police state was fatuous.  There are serious economic issues, corruption issues, and rising inequality in this country.  These troublemakers with  their antics have now detracted from that serious focus.

Angela Hunt is out of line with her criticism. Ms Suhm and the police were wise to not announce the exact time of the action. In other cities where that has been done people flocked to the scene for the confrontation, exacerbating it.

Well done, Ms. Suhm and Dallas Police.  Looks like no one was seriously hurt.

Now, are there any grownups out there who can continue the momentum without illegal camping, guitars and weed?  There are serious problems of polarizing income and wealth distribution, unemployment, massive fraud and other misbehavior in our financial system.

The president has cited all this and the media report it constantly now.

Ant competent grownups out there to catch the ball and run with it doing effective things?

scottindallas
scottindallas

"Jonathan Winocur's comment about a nascent  police state was fatuous.  There are serious economic issues, corruption issues, and rising inequality in this country.  These troublemakers with  their antics have now detracted from that serious focus."

Don't know how you can say that, at the very least, this movement HAS moved the "Overton Window" on these issues.  I have an article that argues that higher taxes on the wealthy and profitable encourages, investment, hiring and GDP.  I've been arguing this for months, suddenly, I'm worried about being scooped.

RTGolden
RTGolden

I think you're right, and I'm not against the rich paying their fair share.  I listened to an interview with a successful entrepreneur and angel investor whom I respect last night.  His bottom line is, high marginal rates or low marginal rates don't even enter his thought processes when he starts a business or invests in one.  Keep in mind though, he's not a "tax the rich" guy, just a fair taxes for all guy.

The biggest problem with a 'tax the rich' policy, as the State of California found out, is that the rich make a lot of their taxable income from capital gains.  When the economy recedes, capital gains decrease, a lot.  If your tax base is anchored in taxes from capital gains, your tax base decreases a lot.  This is how California went from huge tax surpluses (which it still managed to overspend and waste) to huge tax deficits in a mere two years.

Phelps
Phelps

I really don't think the window has been moved.  No one thinks of the Occupy Whatever crowd as normal or mainstream.  The media message has been clear.  They're dirty hippies.  They look like dirty hippies, talk like dirty hippies, and say dirty hippie things.  They live in tents like dirty hippies and wallow in filth.

They are by no means mainstream, and therefore did not move the window.  

They failed utterly and completely to follow Alinsky's Rules for Radicals.  They played right into the far-left stereotype of protesters, and the mainstream was therefore able to mentally categorize them in familiar slots, far to the left, and weren't challenged on any assumptions.  If anything, they've moved things like student loan debt forgiveness down the ladder to the "radical" level.

Phelps
Phelps

The media told us that. That is how the public forms it's perceptions. We are talking about the mainstream perception.

Try to keep up.

notyouthanks
notyouthanks

The media message? The media created that message! Wallow in filth? Who told you that? Why do you assume its true? The Occupy movement has had a major impact on the public discourse in this country -- but all you can do is repeat the distortions of those who want it to go away.

riteaidbob
riteaidbob

A park full of fools.  Maniputaltion by the radical left (Marxist/socialists).  These idiots will accomplish NOTHING and piss the entire nation off.

notyouthanks
notyouthanks

Another brain-washed jerk heard from. Next!

Guest
Guest

So you're saying noted Socialist Tom Leppert is to blame for all of this?

jfpo
jfpo

Please try and understand what the words Marxist and socialist mean before you use them.

scottindallas
scottindallas

I had to scroll up to check who's comments you were referencing.  I wish people would define their terms better.  We have penny socialism for granny and gimp, and millionaire socialism for connected contractors.  It's really pathetic to see the penny socialism condemned while the millionaire socialism is concealed. 

Ed D.
Ed D.

The #Occupy movement is just like the Tea Party, only without guns or corporate sponsorship. Their core message (corporations "too big to fail" and ineffective government are screwing up the American way of life) is the same, only pitched from the left instead of the right.Privatized profits and public risk thanks to connected developers and paid-for pols got us Victory Park, a shiny new city-owned quarter-billion dollar Omni hotel, and a host of other projects where a few folks made out at the expense of everybody. (Hint: taxing me to line some developer's pockets is the much-feared income redistribution and, dare I say it, borders on socialism. The real stuff, not the "everything Obama does is socialism" talking point nonsense.)

Phelps
Phelps

Except for, you know, the corporate sponsorship of corporations like Ben and Jerry's, and the guns that were used to murder the guy at Occupy Oakland.

You are right in identifying the Tea Party's core message.  I just think you missed on the Occupy Whatever core message.

Montemalone
Montemalone

Don't try to confuse them with facts.

RTGolden
RTGolden

For clarification's sake, you left out one vital difference between Occupy and Tea Party: Tea Party didn't violate even minor ordinances with their rallies.  I agree that the messages of Occupy and the original TP movement(before it got co-opted) are the same.

RTGolden
RTGolden

And at home in the mornings to watch Regis.

RTGolden
RTGolden

From what I've been able to glean, the TP was very careful not to violate gun laws at their protests.  Now, whether or not they violate gun laws away from their protests is another story altogether, I can't speak to that one.

I must say, when I visited the OD camp, the one thing that jumped out at me was lack of organization, along with no efforts to gather information about those arrayed against them.  This bears that out.  There is a free app for droid and i-phone that lets you listen in to police communications.  It works in Dallas, I use it all the time.  Limited, because you can't listen in to Tac-Band with it, but I'd bet not all those cops were using Tac-Band last night.  OD might not have been able to stop the eviction, but they would have been better informed.

Montemalone
Montemalone

Because all those old folks had to be in bed by 7:30.

scottindallas
scottindallas

not sure about the gun laws in a few places.  I'm pro 2nd Amendment, just being consistent.  While I'll agree that the grievances of the people are likely fed by outrage over the same sins, there is a difference.  The lack of hierarchy makes the Occupy folks more "true," and harder to corrupt/co-opt.  However, that also makes them a motley bunch with less direction, and, critically, less behind the scene's control and coordination. 

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