Will Occupy Dallas Stay at City Hall? Will Its Case Be Heard in Federal Court? Who Knows!

occupy_city_hall_camp_2011-2.jpg
Photo by Chris Howell
Right now we were supposed to be at the Earle Cabell for a federal hearing over Occupy Dallas's camp-out behind Dallas City Hall. Alas, that was not meant to be: Friday's agreement, which said the Occupiers could occupy City Hall's bathrooms and kept the city from making good on its threat to fold the tents come 5 p.m. last Saturday, was extended for another 24 hours, meaning campers can sleep soundly on City Hall property for at least tonight.

But there's yet another catch, which could mean this case will drag on longer than a quick hearing tomorrow morning, kick-off scheduled for 9. First Assistant City Attorney Chris Bowers and Occupy Dallas attorney Jonathan Winocour explain.

"The issue is whether the plaintiffs have a claim under federal law," Bowers tells Unfair Park. Which is why, according to protocol, the first order of business tomorrow morning will be determining whether federal court even has jurisdiction over the case. This, after the city moved the case to federal court Friday afternoon in response to amended petition by Occupy Dallas which alleged First and Fourteenth Amendment rights violations. Got that?

The case's final resting place hinges on whether U.S. District Judge Jane Boyle, who's hearing the case tomorrow morning, decides the issue is the interpretation of the contract between the city and Occupy Dallas (an issue that would be handled by Slaughter in state court) or an allegation that Occupiers' constitutional rights have been violated by the city (in which case, Boyle will rule on the case). Depending on Boyle's decision, Slaughter could end up having déjà vu of Friday afternoon, but with the onus on her to clarify the terms of the contract.

Winocour said it "might not be proper" that the city filed the case in federal court, but that if Boyle sees the constitutional issues as being tied closely enough to the contractual disagreements, she may issue a ruling. Either way, he said, "I think we've got legitimate grounds in either court."

"This is really all about just trying to figure out what the dang agreement means that the city alleged we were in breach of," Winocour added, bottom-lining the rigmarole surrounding what is actually a quite simple issue. At the end of this, one of the judges in one of the courts will determine whether the city's letter citing a breach of contract could be grounds for kicking Occupiers off their campsite, or whether the contractual language is too vague to support such an ouster. Just read this:Filed Motion to Remand


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47 comments
Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Instead of sitting around in a temp. tent city complaing how they're being held down by the banking and business industries like a bunch of tin-foil hat wearing nuts, they should be out in force volunteering in the community, putting their best foot foward to help others especially this time of year, I know for a fact organizations such as The Salvation Army, The Bridge and Soup Mobile are ALWAYS looking for folks to volunteer for feeds. In addition, it hasnt helped their case to have their encampment targeted by a pederest, unfit parents hiding out and the bums as well.

Watching South Detroit
Watching South Detroit

The news from Occupy Dallas is focused on staying at the campsite.  It is not about the supposed cause they are protesting.  I still can't figure out what these protesters want.  Can someone please tell me the specific goals and what they want to change?  Saying that they are "against corporate greed" or "against big business" or "for the 99%" is not saying anything.  What do the protesters want to achieve?  If they want to put Bank of America under, do they realize several hundred thousand well paying jobs will be go with it?   In the media, you ask 10 protesters and you will get 10 different answers. 

Paul
Paul

I love a guy who signs an agreement and then is saying we are trying to find out what it means.  This guy has a perfectly circular logic argument and is complaining that the City is not making any sense.

I also like that the plaintiffs in the various filings are three people and "on behalf of others similarly situated."

If I were the City attorney, I would have the court certify the class members and then throw out anybody not in that class, and require that the class members sign the agreement.

Rangers100
Rangers100

This whole movement has come down to a battle over who can camp in city parks and when.

How exciting.

Bmarvel
Bmarvel

Every projection I've seen suggests that the conditions that give rise to Occupy are not going to go away for a long time. And we know that people will not silently endure such conditions forever.

If Occupy folds its tents and goes away, what will take its place? What shape will it take? Will it remain non-violent? Will it be contented with camp-outs and the occasional march?

What if conditions get worse? Say, the collapse of the college-loan bubble, the shoe that's yet to drop. With no jobs, no prospect of jobs, crushing debt, no dream of ever owning a home, raising a family, sending kids to college, living what was once assumed was The American Life, even a minority of the American population can create a mighty mayhem.

There's been a lot of comments of the Let-them-eat-cake variety on this forum, by people who apparently can have all the cake they want. A lot of denials that there is a problem by people who really ought to know better.

No state or society has ever managed to escape civil disorder in times of economic travail, especially if its citizens have long experience of the contrary.  Put another way: How many cops would it take to break 14 million skulls (the current number of unemployed)? And do we want to ask our cops to do that?    

Albert
Albert

Judging by press coverage and drop-off in comments to blog posts,  the real question is "who cares?"

This Dallas effort is all about process. Big whoop. They've been cleverly co-opted by City Hall, they're now as exciting as a zoning board meeting. I don't think that's what Occupy Dallas, Inc. envisioned.

Now what?

J. Erik Jonsson
J. Erik Jonsson

Bowers, please stop wasting my money on this project.  This isn't Oakland; this is the perfect example of something that will go away if ignored.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Did they clean up the campsite?  The whole question could have gone away, according to the City's letter, if they had just cleaned up the camp, left the temporary fencing around the trees alone, and stayed out of City Hall's bathrooms.

It's basically Mom telling the kids to clean their rooms.  OD hasn't grown up yet.

thufir_hawat
thufir_hawat

A different question; who has standing to either try to enforce the agreement or, for that matter, make an agreement for the protesters? There is a great pride in the notion that there are no leaders and no on person speaks for all which makes it dicey, no?

If the agreement is between the city and few individuals, (i) why can the city enforce its ordinances against all but the signatories, or (ii) why would any non-signatory feel bound by the terms of the of agreement to which they are not parties (which his to say, no OD non-leader-leader can require action or inaction from any protester)?

For the lawyer, who is client, to whom does he owe duties, and who among the morass of folk can speak for the group when they have been defiant that no one person can do so (and they are not incorporated or in any kind of association or formal entity)? 

But keep thinking big. Want to impose a radical redistribution of wealth from Wall Street to Main Street (or "Wall Street to All Streets")? Get into a civil legal argument about jurisdiction of all things with the City of Dallas over where you can have your campout which you have already agreed will end by date certain. That will get them talking.

Mike
Mike

Have a nice night!

scottindallas
scottindallas

actually, to pick up an argument from the Right, if we let BofA collapse there wouldn't be the same job destruction that we faced with the Auto industry.  If the auto industry went under, those jobs would be lost to Japan, Korea and other off shore makers.  However, with retail (commercial) banking, those accounts are all guaranteed by the FDIC.  Banks are taken over all the time, with only the officers losing their jobs.  That business still needs to be handled, and can't be exported like factory jobs.

Sybils_Beaver
Sybils_Beaver

"The news from Occupy Dallas is focused on staying at the campsite"

This is exactly why they should go.  This isnt about a protest or right to assemble, its about a friggen place ot sleep.  I think Mayor Bloomberg put it best about Occupy

"Protesters have had two months to occupy the park with tents and sleeping bags. Now they will have to occupy the space with the power of their arguments," Bloomberg said.

Also

"There is no ambiguity in the law here. The First Amendment protect speech, it does not protect tents and sleeping bags," the mayor said.

Albert Finney000
Albert Finney000

"How many cops would it take to break 14 million skulls ..."

Not to worry, there aren't 14 million committed Marxists in the US. If there were, they'd still be heavily outnumbered by rednecks with guns

Mike
Mike

You holding?

Guest
Guest

The site looked spick and span on Saturday when I visited

Jonathan Winocour
Jonathan Winocour

Wasn't it Diogenes who said "I know nothing, except the fact of my ignorance." 

Paul
Paul

Hello scottindallas, the FDIC insurance on the deposits is exactly one of the reasons why the mess that the banks are in came to be.  When the Glass - Steagal Act was repealed by Pres. Clinton, the firewall between merchant banking (what you and I participate in when we deposit money or take out a loan) and investment banking (the private placing or raising of capital, trading of securities or facilitation of a transaction) was removed, the merchant banks were able to move into investment banking and use the FDIC insured accounts as their source of capital.

The bank bailout came about when the investment banking transactions went south and placed the merchant bank activities at risk because the investment banking transactions were using the FDIC insured accounts as the source of capital for the investment banking transactions.

Essentially, the merchant banks turned investment bankers were able to externalize all of their risk to the FDIC.

Some transactions were leveraged as high as 100 : 1 and higher, so the slightest downward movement wiped out any equity that was to be had in the deal.

And then there is MERS and the CDOs ...

I appreciate your comments ...

scottindallas
scottindallas

The freedom of assembly is among the 5 rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.  Camping, would fit more clearly under freedom of assembly than freedom of speech/expression.  But, way to jump on a strawman.

Paul
Paul

Please try anyway ... your filing looks like a well done version of the Texas Two Step ...

Is it an infringement of protected rights or a breach of contract?  We all know what the remedy is for either of them.

Please see the section in the agreement with the City of Dallas about ambiguities and honor that section by resolving the ambiguity in a good faith effort.

I wonder if this is a situation where you are arguing the facts because the law is against you or that you are arguing the law because the facts are against you?

Thanks  for your comments ...

Have a nice whatever there behind City Hall.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Trouble with that line of reasoning is lots of those rednecks with guns, (I might fall into that category) recognize the underlying financial problems being protested, realize that those guns are better used in the prevention of tyranny rather than the enforcement of it, and, if we're gainfully employed, have better things to do than assist in the degradation of our political environment.

In other words, us 'rednecks with guns' would rather be part of the solution, than be a whole new tangent of the problem.

Bmarvel
Bmarvel

Not talking about Marxists. Talking about folks without jobs or hope.  Though the fact that you confused the two tells us a lot.

Albert
Albert

I care too, Glynn, I've posted on this issue probably more than I should have. More than you probably. Who cares?

My pojnts stand, this is a movement still in search of a cause, and in Dallas, the cause is a permit to camp, which defeats the purpose.

Albert
Albert

Momentum is building then.

Dallas Occupation may well outlast all the others, it's check-out time all around the nation. Maybe they'll move here like so many others.

scottindallas
scottindallas

socrates, Diogenes was looking for an earnest man.  Wiki:  " Diogenes made a virtue of poverty. He begged for a living and slept in a tub in the marketplace. He became notorious for his philosophical stunts such as carrying a lamp in the daytime, claiming to be looking for an honest man. He publicly mocked Alexander and lived. He embarrassed Plato, disputed his interpretation of Socrates and sabotaged his lectures."

scottindallas
scottindallas

Actually, Lehman and Bear Sterns were NOT insured by the FDIC.  That and oil prices caused the recession.  I agree that the elimination of Glass Stegal were problematic, but one can nit-pick your first sentence.  The dynamic you describe exacerbated the risk and potential damage that still looms, and I support addressing that, as well as reserve requirements as well.

scottindallas
scottindallas

So, if two people want to filibuster, one can't spell the other while the other rests? 

scottindallas
scottindallas

such as?

Brevity may be the soul of wit, but it doesn't do much for clarity.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Guess if freedom of speech doesn't pan out, you just move on down the line.  If they were serious about staying in the park, they'd put up a cross and invite Pastor Jeffress to pray over them every night.  No way City Hall is going to throw a rope around that one.

Freedom of Assembly is susceptible to reasonable restrictions, which include obtaining a permit (which OD is loathe to do) and imposing curfews (which would have the campers out of the park).  If Occupy Dallas' grievance is aimed at corporate corruption and political corruption, kicking them out of the park in no way restricts their freedom of speech, or rights of assembly or association, it merely places reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on them.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

There's a big difference between assembling and hanging around.

Sybils_Beaver
Sybils_Beaver

fine assemble, protest, speak, march, but sleep?  nah, not on public property, sleeping isnt part of the expression of their speech, or in OD's case, lack of speech!

scottindallas
scottindallas

They're not as illogical as the Milton Friedmanites.  To argue there's no free lunch save with reduced taxes begetting increased revenues is inherently contradictory.  I challenged about 40 MBAs from Harvard, Wharton, Stanford, Columbia and Kellogg to refute the premise that higher top marginal tax rates would stimulate GDP, and none could. 

Perry Moore
Perry Moore

I'm sure this movement has its share of unemployed folks with political science degrees. I'd love to drop by and discuss your collective philosophy with you. Will the city allow me to bring Sterno or smokes?

Albert
Albert

Elements of Trotsky, Mark, and Stalin.

It's the left, what would we expect, Milton Friedmanites?

Jonathan Winocour
Jonathan Winocour

Don't you think of it more as a Trotskyist movement? Perhaps with a little Proudhon thrown in for good measure? With just a dash of Bakunin to add spice? 

Albert
Albert

There have always been people without jobs, without hope, there always will be.

Marxists always offer Marxist solutions, this movement, like it or not, is heavily marxist, and the US isn't. 

Perry Moore
Perry Moore

If this is medicine, these are Band-aids.

Mike
Mike

Dude I left my lighter in the bathroom at McDonalds.

Albert
Albert

"Only because it doesn't really get chilly around here till January..."

Ending with a whimper, a sneeze, and a permit.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

Only because it doesn't really get chilly around here till January...

Jonathan Winocour
Jonathan Winocour

Caring is akin to spelunking? Fixed it for me, or the other?

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