Federal Judge Denies Occupy Dallas's Motion for TRO. So, What Will City Hall Do Now ...?
This morning, U.S. District Judge Jane Boyle denied the request by Occupy Dallas for a temporary restraining order that would have prevented City Hall from evicting the Occupiers based on specific sections of the October agreement. Occupy Dallas Attorney Jonathan Winocour repeatedly called portions of the arrangement with the city "ambiguous," and said that this disparity leaves room for questions as to whether Occupy Dallas has violated the agreement.
Photo by Chris Howell
But whether the city will terminate its agreement with Occupy Dallas and "enforce all laws on the property," including removing tents, as outlined in a letter from the city last week, remains to be seen.
"We are evaluating the situation," says City Hall spokesman Frank Librio, who expects to meet with City Manager Mary Suhm later today. The mayor's office has no response pending a meeting with Suhm that was scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Librio says that if the city has a response, we shouldn't expect it till late in the day, around 4 or 5 p.m.
"This is not necessarily the city saying, 'We will shut it down today,'" Winocour says, adding that he's "disappointed, but again, not terribly surprised" by the judge's decision. Winocour says he too doesn't know what he will do next, and that he will now meet with his clients to discuss their next steps. No matter what, he says of the larger message of the Occupy movement, "We hope that noise continues to reverberate for a while."
Winocour argued that the terms of the contract -- regarding trash disposal, outlining parameters for signage, restricting use of the City Hall bathrooms, among other things -- were "ambiguous," and that the agreement between the city and Occupy Dallas should be more carefully outlined before the city could break up the encampment. He added that cities all around the country have been tightening restrictions and shutting down encampments; look no further than New York City.
"It sounds like what he wants the court to do is rewrite the contract," Assistant City Attorney Chris Caso said while defending the city in front of Boyle. He argued that Occupy Dallas did not satisfy the burden of proof necessary to merit a temporary restraining order, and in the end, Boyle agreed.