Eight arrests at Dallas bank protest

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by MONIKA DIAZ and JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on November 5, 2011 at 5:29 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 25 at 9:48 PM

DALLAS — On the day when people across the country are moving their money out of big banks, eight protesters outside a bank in Dallas were arrested.

The national movement is called Bank Transfer Day, a response to plans by Bank of America and other large financial institutions to add fees to debit card users.

But it was Occupy Dallas protesters creating the scene on Saturday, where an estimated 150 people joined in, marching from bank-to-bank in downtown Dallas.

Police officers were close behind, watching every move.

"We had the banks that we wanted to go to, and from what happened at the very beginning, Bank of America," said protester Perry McKnight. "We are going to the banks we already designated, with the people."

The extra law enforcement presence followed a confrontation between police and protesters in front of the Bank of America building on Saturday afternoon. Officers rushed to the scene to break up the crowd.

Video provided by protesters shows a police officer trying to rip away a flag from one of the protesters. When the man resists, one officer falls and hits his head.

Occupy Dallas told News 8 that protesters were standing on the flower beds in front of the building, chanting, when one got of them was knocked down.

"The security guard pushed someone off the wall onto the concrete," said protester Meg Hargis. "That started a snowball effect of cops coming in and pepper-spraying people in the crowd and dragging them out into he street and arresting them."

According to the City of Dallas, when protesters were ordered to get off the planters, one of them became aggressive and assaulted police.

Eight people were arrested. One is expected to be charged with assaulting a public servant and resisting arrest.

The others face other charges, including blocking the sidewalk.

"They were already legally on a place they were legally allowed to be, and they were told to move back and there was nowhere for them to go," Hargis said.

According to the city, three officers received minor injuries in the scuffle.

Investigators are reviewing video surveillance recordings to determine whether additional charges should be filed.

In Fort Worth on Saturday, about 50 people showed up to protest big banks and to urge people to move their money to credit unions instead.

Police didn't report any major trouble, although one man did get a ticket for having a dog without a leash.

Credit unions report an influx of 650,000 new customers over the last four weeks, a 13-fold spike from an average month. That equates to more than $4.5 billion in deposits that apparently were removed from big banks.

E-mail mdiaz@wfaa.com and jbetz@wfaa.com

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