Breaking news blog: Dallas police chief defends raid

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by WFAA STAFF & WALT ZWIRKO

WFAA

Posted on November 17, 2011 at 12:09 AM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 2:46 AM

Here is a compilation of minute-by-minute updates from the Occupy Dallas encampment as scores of Dallas police officers moved in late Wednesday and early Thursday to evict the protest group. There was no violence and 18 protesters were arrested.


THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 17

12:23p The 18 protesters arrested in the raid overnight were charged with a Class C misdemeanor, trespassing. - Cynthia Vega, WFAA

12:15p   About 20 Occupy Dallas demonstrators gathered outside the Dallas Police Department earlier in the afternoon chanting, "Serve the people, not the rich" as Chief Brown met with the media. At 12:01 a.m., the city chose to enforce its own ordinance: no sleeping in a public park between midnight and 5 a.m. Brown said police gave demonstrators 90 minutes to pack up and move out before officers moved in, going tent by tent clearing out the area. He said the timing of the raid at 1 a.m. was not about trying to surprise demonstrators, but rather to give officers the upper hand. He said he wanted to be sure their safety was protected. - Cynthia Vega, WFAA

NOON Chief David Brown said it cost the department no additional staffing or overtime money for the Occupy Dallas raid. He said the decision to raid the camp was a collaborative one made Wednesday between city leaders and Dallas police. They said violence on the camp, unsanitary conditions and criminal activity trumped the rights for those exercising the First Amendment on the public grounds.

"We had to make everyone comfortable with how we would do it, minimizing as much as we could any escalation by participants, including concerns for officers' safety as well," Brown said.

Occupy Dallas attorney Jonathan Winocour disagreed with the handling of the raid.

"I think there was a decision-making process here that was a little too opaque," he said. "I would have liked to see more accountability through the democratically-elected members of the City Council with regards as to how [City Manager] Mary Suhm made the decision to do this the way that it was done."

Winocour said protesters will continue their movement through the Internet and other means. - Cynthia Vega, WFAA

11:25a Occupy Dallas protesters on the move from the Dallas Police Department. - Rebecca Lopez, WFAA

11:06a Dallas Police Chief David Brown says the department had two to three officers for every protester, but will not specifically say how many officers and resources were in play during the overnight raid of the Occupy Dallas camp. "They were the most unsanitary conditions you could imagine," Brown said. - Craig Civale, WFAA

10:15a A group of Occupy Dallas protesters is standing outside the Dallas Police Department as the news conference on the evacuation of protesters is under way. - WFAA.com

10:10a The Occupy Dallas lawyer, Jonathan Winocour, was asked to leave the Dallas Police Department media news conference just before it began. Winocour asked an officer at the scene when he would be able to ask police Chief Brown questions about the raid, and the officer replied, "There will be a time and place for that."

"Will police be providing a public account of the cost of last night's operation for the citizens of this city?" Winocour asked.  Police said questions asked by the media would be answered at the news conference. Winocour said he also wanted to know if an inquiry would be made into the decision to stage the raid after an alleged agreement was already made. "We want to understand why we were not given 12 to 24 hours notice," Winocour said. He said protesters were forced to leave their property behind when if they had been given notice, there would have been time to evacuate the park with those items.

Winocour asked the officer to relay his questions to the chief and then left the building. - Craig Civale, WFAA

7a Crews are cleaning up leftover items, including tents, trash, signs and blankets, at the camp behind Dallas City Hall. - WFAA.com

6:53a Police cited a City of Dallas code that does not allow people in public places from midnight to 5 a.m. as they raided the Occupy Dallas campground, giving protesters 20 minutes to evacuate at about 1 a.m. this morning. This morning, the city of Dallas issued a statement that cited several additional reasons behind the raid, saying demonstrators violated their agreement with the city by allowing trash to build up and creating unsanitary conditions. - Cynthia Vega, WFAA

6:05a Dallas police will hold a news conference at 10 a.m. to discuss the raid of the Occupy Dallas camp. Some city leaders said they did not know the raid was going to happen and have questioned why, as they believed the protesters would be able to stay until December 14, the original date set with the city. - Cynthia Vega, WFAA

4:05a Dallas police arrested 18 Occupy Dallas protesters during the overnight sweep to close the organization's campground near City Hall. Dallas police planned a 10 a.m. news conference to discuss the operation. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

1:49a The police sweep of the Occupy Dallas campground appears to be complete. The peaceful operation took about 45 minutes. Many police officers are now leaving, but dozens will remain through the night. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

1:46a Dallas police are now collecting property from the Occupy Dallas campground. Protesters can retrieve their gear from the police tow-in lot and property room. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

1:43a A WFAA photojournalist inside the Occupy Dallas camp says 10 to 15 protesters have been arrested; three had to be carried away by police. The arrests now appear to be over. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

1:41a The Dallas police helicopter is returning to the hangar to refuel. An arrest team is asking for more Polaroid film because of "a bad batch." - Jason Whitely, WFAA

1:39a Dallas police say four protesters who agreed to leave will be permitted to return to get their property after the second sweep of the campground. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

1:36a A WFAA photojournalist inside the camp says 10 to 15 protesters remain in the center of the park, waiting to be arrested. Two police "paddy wagons" have moved into the site; each can hold up to a dozen prisoners. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

1:30a Dallas City Council member Angela Hunt was alerted to the Occupy Dallas raid by media reports she saw on Twitter. "The police presence here seems very much like overkill and not a very good use of our resources," she said. "I'm troubled that our City Manager did not consult with the City Council prior to taking this action." Hunt said City Manager Mary Suhm sent Council members an e-mail about the police action at 11:45 p.m. "We did not have sufficient notice, nor did the peaceful protesters," Hunt said. "I think this could have been handled in a much better fashion." - Monika Diaz, WFAA

1:27a Another wave of police officers in riot gear is now walking through the Occupy Dallas campground. The mounted patrol hasn't yet moved in. The sweep is peaceful so far. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

1:22a Dallas police are now dismantling the tents of Occupy Dallas protesters who failed to heed the eviction notice. Anyone who remains will be arrested on trespassing charges.  All arrests so far have been peaceful.  - Jason Whitely, WFAA

1:21a At least one protester has been taken into custody and multiple arrests are now under way. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

1:20a "Frankly, it's a grossly disproportionate use of force," said Jonathan Winocour, an attorney representing Occupy Dallas. "It's very aggressive, in-your-face policing. This is reminiscent of some nascent police state." He said this is an act of civil disobedience. "There's a sense that things didn't work out the way we thought they were going to work out," Winocour said, adding that  he estimated that 15-20 protesters would be arrested.  - Monika Diaz, WFAA

1:16a Police are now sweeping the Occupy Dallas camp following repeated warnings to the campers; about 40 are believed to still be there. Dallas police commanders planned to arrest a certain unnamed individual first. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

1:15a Dallas police have been building their presence around the Occupy Dallas campground for about two hours; many campers left with valuables, but others remain as police issue final warnings. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

1:11a All of the remaining Occupy Dallas tents are abandoned; about 40 campers are sitting on benches in the middle of the park vowing not to leave. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

1:10a City Council member Angela Hunt is at the scene, warning the remaining Occupy Dallas protesters of imminent arrests. - Monika Diaz, WFAA

1:09a Dallas police make an announcement that they are moving into sweep the Occupy Dallas camp. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

1:07a More Dallas police are suiting up in riot gear for the sweep of the Occupy Dallas compound. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

1:06a Dallas police are now moving in to sweep the Occupy Dallas campground and to arrest anyone who remains behind. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

1:03a Police supervisors are now giving officers a five-minute notice before the sweep of the Occupy Dallas camp commences. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

1a The Park next to City Hall is now officially closed. - Monika Diaz, WFAA

12:59a Protesters have five minutes to clear out, according to a loudspeaker announcement from Dallas police. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

12:57a A patrol car is stationed near the center of the Occupy Dallas camp for protesters to go if they can't get their belongings out quickly. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

12:54a At least three prisoner transfer vans are waiting in a parking lot directly across the street from the Occupy Dallas campground as what appears to be a 1 a.m. deadline looms. - WFAA

12:52a With eight minutes until the police-imposed deadline, one Occupy Dallas camper is seen clearing his tent before the park is cleared. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

12:49a Dallas police on motorcycle, horseback and riot gear are seen on a hill near the Occupy Dallas camp. It's now less than 10 minutes until the promised sweep, but about 40 campers are lingering at the site. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

12:43a Police have just issued a 15-minute warning to the Occupy Dallas protesters to leave or be arrested; as of now, no one is leaving. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

12:39a Police say they will sweep the Occupy Dallas camp at 12:55 a.m., moving out whomever and whatever remains at that hour. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

12:38a Sources tell News 8 that police are prepared to use tear gas to evict any Occupy Dallas campers who refuse to leave the park next to City Hall. - Rebecca Lopez, WFAA

12:36a Dallas police are officially "closing" the park next to City Hall, giving the remaining Occupy Dallas protesters that they have 20 minutes to collect their belongings and leave the property. - Jason Whitely and Monika Diaz, WFAA

12:34a Police have given a "last warning" to the media to leave the Occupy Dallas campsite or be subjected to arrest. - Monika Diaz and Jason Whitely, WFAA

12:31a About 40 to 45 protesters remain inside the Occupy Dallas camp vowing to be arrested. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

12:30a Dallas police are now moving media to the side of the Occupy Dallas camp as officers in riot gear prepare to sweep the small park next to City Hall. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

12:25a Police continue to surround the Occupy Dallas camp, but many tents remain intact in violation of police orders to leave the property. - WFAA

12:21a '"We're about to go in," an assistant Dallas police chief says. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

12:20a Veteran WFAA police reporter Rebecca Lopez says she's never seen a police presence like this.

12:18a Dallas police are telling Occupy Dallas campers that they will have a chance to get their property and leave before a sweep of the grounds in the next few minutes. Dozens of officers holding shields, batons and wearing helmets are standing by. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

12:16a An assistant Dallas police chief tells an Occupy Dallas organizer that officers are about to "clear the camp." - Jason Whitely, WFAA

12:09a Police SWAT teams have arrived at the Occupy Dallas camp to tell protesters they must leave. Police are equipped in riot gear. The camp is being illuminated by police vehicles as negotiators explain the loophole by which the city can evict the protesters. - Rebecca Lopez, WFAA

12:06a Dozens of  Dallas police vehicles are moving in the direction of the Occupy Dallas site. - WFAA

12:04a Police vehicles appear to be moving toward the Occupy Dallas site, where about three dozen protesters, holding flags, vow to be arrested. An attorney for the group said authorities are closing the camp because it violates a city curfew for city parks between midnight and 5 a.m. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 16

11:56p From HD Chopper 8, we can see dozens of police cars ringing the Occupy Dallas encampment; but many tents remain intact just before midnight. - WFAA

11:53p Protesters are gathering in the center of the Occupy Dallas camp, waving American flags and awaiting what appears to be an imminent police sweep. An attorney for the group says the city has rescinded its agreement with Occupy Dallas and campers will have an opportunity to clear everything out. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

11:47p A lawyer for Occupy Dallas says police will give protesters an opportunity to leave peacefully because they are in violation of a city curfew for public parks. - Josh Stephen, WFAA photojournalist

11:44p Police are making final preparations for a large-scale sweep of the Occupy Dallas camp next to City Hall. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

11:39p Police are moving the media off the Occupy Dallas campsite next to City Hall. A large contingent of officers is en route and many of the campers have left. Several ambulances are being  staged nearby as some kind of action appears to be imminent. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

11:31p In addition to patrol cars and motorcycles, Dallas police have officers on horseback getting ready near the Occupy Dallas site. - Monika Diaz, WFAA

11:24p Police order a News 8 crew trying to cover the activity to change locations. - Rebecca Lopez, WFAA

11:20p Occupy Dallas campers are breaking down tents ahead of possible police action; some are locking up valuables, but others vow to stay.  - Jason Whitely, WFAA

11:19p Police have not moved toward the Occupy Dallas site downtown, but some surrounding streets have been blocked. - Monika Diaz, WFAA

11:17p WFAA observes a large police presence near the Occupy Dallas campground, but there is no movement toward the site.

11:07p On the southwest side of the Occupy Dallas encampment, a small group of people are running out. - Monika Diaz, WFAA

11:02p Occupy Dallas leaders go tent-to-tent at the group's encampment next door to City Hall, advising members of the protest group to leave the property immediately. - Jason Whitely, WFAA

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