Occupy Dallas Can Stay Put, Temporarily and Conditionally, Pending a Hearing on Monday

occupy_city_hall_camp_2011-18.jpg
Photo by Chris Howell
This afternoon, U.S. District Judge David Godbey helped City Hall and Occupy Dallas come to a verbal agreement that protestors can not only keep camping outside City Hall, but can also use City Hall restrooms and keep their current signage -- two issues disputed in the lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order filed by Occupy Dallas's attorneys Wednesday night. This peace-keeping arrangement, discussed during a closed-door teleconference between Godbey and attorneys from the city and Occupy Dallas, expires Monday at 4 p.m., when either Godbey or another federal judge will hear the case that will potentially determine whether the encampment can continue.

"It's just like a semi-permanent structure. It's a kind of restraining order that isn't a restraining order," said Occupy Dallas attorney Jonathan Winocour, sarcastically referencing his clients' contention that language such as "semi-permanent" makes sections of the contract vague and difficult to follow. "It's a 'win' insofar as it's unlikely that we're going to be moved out by 5 p.m. Saturday."

First Assistant City Attorney Chris Bowers confirmed that the city agreed not to kick Occupiers off city property for violating the City Hall bathroom or "semi-permanent" signage provisions in the current contract agreed upon last month and originally set to expire in December.

"If there were serious public safety or health concerns, we would reserve the right to terminate the agreement," Bowers said. Asked whether the city will step up monitoring of other issues over the weekend, Bowers gave little indication, saying simply, "I expect that the city will monitor the property during the weekend."

A hearing was first held earlier this afternoon in front of Judge Gena Slaughter. The city wanted the case in federal court after Winocour this morning delivered an amended petition that alleged the city had violated protesters' constitutional rights.

Veterans Day helped stall out proceedings earlier in the day: Winocour said the holiday prevented him from having a hearing in time for the Saturday at 5 p.m. mark, when the city threatened it might boot the encampment in letters sent by Bowers and City Manager Mary Suhm earlier in the week. Slaughter said the case was indeed out of her jurisdiction, and that Winocour could contact an on-call federal judge.

Her decision yielded an afternoon during which all parties, present company included, paced the halls of the courthouse, waiting to hear when and if a federal judge could hear the case. Then came the teleconference with Godbey and the extension until Monday.

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Albert
Albert

Occupy Dallas might consider deploying to cities where capitalist forces are routing their brethren. The battle here seems won.

There is a division marching from Zucchini Park to DC, why not join them?  After all, the banks didn't bail themselves out, DC did.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

DEAR OCCUPY DALLAS---

THANK YOU for your Veteran's Day message on your website. You are welcome, since I am a vet. I also like the idea of a clean/green clean/business being created.

So, please, get off the grass, go home and do MORE like that. THEN you will see more support.

Mike
Mike

I'm not opposed to this movement. I am opposed to the lack of direction it seems to be taking. Rather than spending time trying to camp longer, why figure out what the objectives of this movement are. Right now it seems to be more about camping and going for police supervised walks with signs than any real protest or change. Maybe going home so no more damage can be done to the image of the movement (like child molestation, etc.), figure out what actual changes your trying to make (& please be concise, not a 'war on drugs' type of ongoing ambiguous b.s.), create some form of rules for your camp (so the trash gets picked up, sex offenders are not allowed, etc.), & come back in the spring. The weather will be a lot nicer, and more people will be behind your hopefully cohesive message. 

ThaDude
ThaDude

You know, a dance studio HIRED a chiropractor who sexually assaulted several minor females. A volunteer SHOWED UP at Occupy Dallas with a young female who introduced him to people as her boyfriend. Yet Occupy Dallas is more responsible for the misconduct  than the dance studio is? Double standard...

Sorry, I just get tired of a repeat sexual offender who did a truly disgusting thing being linked at all to a group of peaceful, respectful protesters.

Mike
Mike

Who said a dance studio should net be held responsible? That's an idiotic red herring and beside the point. The point is that the dance studio suffered from the close association a sexual predator, just as the protesters are. The fact that this convicted sex offender is linked to the occupy dallas camp is not erroneous. It happened there. It hurts the image of the movement. There is no double standard. 

Mike
Mike

That dance studio is going to close. Who cares who the media puts the blame on. No parent is going to put their daughter in classes there. Their reputation is damaged due to a lack of discretion allowing that degenerate into their ranks. They should have done something, anything to prevent this from happening. Their reputation is screwed, and rightfully so. In that same vein, the od folks allowed a runaway and a convicted sex offender into their ranks. I don't think they did this knowingly, but does it matter now? Their message is lost to these allegations. I already said I'm not against this movement. There is no stated goal. There is no stated hierarchy. That is where the problem lies. If there is no spokesperson anyone can rely on the word of whatever whoever is strolling around says. That is tragically stupid.There IS a desire for change. I believe od should go home & figure out what their goals are. Come back when there is a cohesive plan. Don't damage the brand while you sort your house out. 

RTGolden
RTGolden

Of course you are correct, it is unfair that the entire OD camp gets painted with this actually narrow brush.  Many of us who support the main theme of OD have stated this since the unfortunate incident happened.In a way, OD's own ambiguity about its purpose and its acceptance, is responsible for this public misconception.  OD, in its haste to be all encompassing and accepting (their words, not mine), have left people confused as to what the group is actually all about.  I even went down there to see if there was any clarification to be had, but the protesters and cops were having a hare-and-hound match in downtown, and quite frankly, I couldn't keep up.  Perhaps I'll try on a Sunday when they're all supposed to be in camp.It is unfortunate that their protest gets marred by this, and sad that they will let the 'can we or can't we' camp question overshadow their message about economical inequity.  But OD is as culpable of making this all about the camp as the city is.

ThaDude
ThaDude

Actually, there is. Have you been watching the news? No one is holding the dance studio responsible, since they made a statement distancing themselves from his behavior. The dance studio could have done a background check on something they were contracting in, but Occupy Dallas didn't hire the guy who came to camp with an underage girl. Yet people still want to hold OD responsible for actions they could not have prevented.

Sorry, I've just read so many tweets/posts in different places about the Occupy Dallas "child rape tent". It's an unfair characterization of the movement.

J. Erik Jonsson
J. Erik Jonsson

How is this worth even six minutes of City Attorney time?  Bowers, please advise your client that it is WASTING MY MONEY worrying about people who seem to be having no impact, let alone a negative one.  Leave them alone.

Albert
Albert

The Dallas division of Occupy is a model the greater occupiers on the coasts might want pay attention to.

Regardless of the aims or message, they seem less hostile to process than the larger occupations. And process seems less hostile to them. I have to admire their willingness to work within the system like the ninety-nine percent does every day.

If this paid union agitator from Philly pulls a few hundred grand from the taxpayers of Dallas, well, that's the system.

james
james

violating the City Hall bathroom !!! who's city hall bathroom is it anyways?

RTGolden
RTGolden

Yes, city hall is owned by the people of the city.  As such, the citizens expect the city to take care of it and empower the city to make rules regarding its use.

Aside from that, you, the lawyer and the writer are misrepresenting the issue.  The ODers didn't 'violate' the restroom, they violated their original agreement with the city.  If OD wants to have their protest viewed as a special event, exempt from city ordinances, then they should collect money, or pitch in themselves, and get Portalets on-site. The city, hence the public, reached an agreement with OD which allows them to camp there.  They don't have the right to camp there.  You have the right to free expression, we are not obliged to accomodate your every whim in exercising that right.

ThaDude
ThaDude

They have been trying to get port-a-potties in the area since the Occupation began. Portable toilets can not be put anywhere on the property (park or parking lot), so the only option is to secure private space nearby. This has proved to be problematic. Occupy Dallas is perfectly happy to pay for portable toilets, there just hasn't been a place to put them yet.

Know your facts before you assume.

Paul
Paul

What do you expect from a generation who were all given trophies for just showing up ... and even those who didn't show up also received trophies so that they wouldn't feel left out ...

The dude in the picture looks as if he definitely mastered in dorm room hanging.

I wasn't worried about this group until recently when it turns out that a USW organizer is in the midst of it.

As bad as the video tape is (for the off duty officer and the City), I still want to know what happened before the video started ...

Purpleone
Purpleone

This is the typical OD thinking.  "It hasn't worked out for us the way we planned, but we tried real hard."  What a crock!  Find a place to put the temp facilities or get the hell out of the park!  I am tired of paying for your personal self expression through the use of public monies.  You can't even support yourselves in your efforts to protest the greed of others?  You people make me sick! 

RTGolden
RTGolden

They probably should have thought of that before they 'assumed' that restroom facilities would be magically provided for them when they needed them.

Again, the city is required to allow their protest, it is not obligated to provide for their needs during the protest.

Mike
Mike

It belongs to us managed by the elected government. These people do not seem to understand that assets that belong to all of us just can't be used when one of us feels the need. If you are using it then I cannot and you do not have that right to exclude me. You do not walk up to a base and borrow a helicopter.

This weekend a number of cities may remove the local Occupy. People are turning up dead.

A_dossett
A_dossett

If I am "using it" then you must want until I am done then you can "use it". A bathroom stall is hardly the same as a helicopter.

Mike
Mike

But if 80 people from the camp are using and washing up there, that prevents the city hall workers from using it and getting back to the people's business.  It is why we put bathrooms there.  That's why we have governments to regulate use of common resources, something no one across the poltical spectrum challenges.  The arguments arise in turning private resources to common ones. 

The courts allow governments a free hand in that function.

Allen
Allen

should be wait...not want

Carey Bst
Carey Bst

If the Occupy movement can adopt an anti-corruption platform instead of thedisjointed messages, they will be much more respected.  An Occupy Dallas member'spage http://owwc.gu.ma , supporting a business owner who lost millions ofdollars to a corrupt officials, seems to go a long way in starting down thatroad.

Cityhalloutsider
Cityhalloutsider

Under the protestors reasoning any attempt to put rules in place regarding camping on public property would violate free speech as long as the bums claim to be protesting something. That hardly makes sense. On the bright side at least some people want to be downtown.

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