City, Occupy Dallas protesters reach agreement through the weekend

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by REBECCA LOPEZ

Bio | Email | Follow: @rlopezwfaa

WFAA

Posted on November 11, 2011 at 6:30 PM

Updated Saturday, Nov 12 at 9:47 AM

DALLAS - A federal judged helped the City of Dallas and Occupy Dallas protesters reach an agreement to stay in their present location through the weekend.

Earlier Friday the group asked for a temporary restraining order to keep the City of Dallas from shutting the camp down at 5 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

Just before 5 p.m. a federal judge heard both sides of the argument by phone. He did not issue the temporary restraining order, but allowed the two sides to come to an informal agreement to allow the camp to stay until another hearing on Monday.

However there is a catch.

City officials said the protesters are violating their initial agreement, which was signed weeks ago, by using bathrooms at City Hall and setting up signs. Occupiers will be allowed to use the restrooms and keep the signs for now, but can't violate any other rules or codes, or the city will shut down the site over the weekend.

"It is a win in [that] it's unlikely we're going to be moved out by 5 p.m. on Saturday," said Jonathan Minocour, an attorney for Occupy Dallas. "But understand that it's a narrow scope of permission. I mean, if we violate things that are outside [the use of restrooms and the signs] then the city is within its rights to shut the camp down."

There will be city employees and Dallas police officers making sure the group is in compliance.

"If there were serious public safety or health concerns, we would retain the right to terminate the agreement and to remove them from the property," said Chris Bowers, a City of Dallas attorney.

Another issue that has popped up was a video released by Occupy Dallas Thursday night which shows a Dallas police officer shoving protester, Stephen Benavide off of a planter at a protest last weekend in front of the Bank of America building.

Benavides spoke to News 8 about the incident.

"It was a split second reaction on his part and he shoved me from the planter," Benavide said. "I fell to the ground and the steel worker flag falls as well. I pick up the flag go to a cop and say I want this man arrested for assault at that point I was not sure if he was a cop or security guard."

The new video forced Dallas police to take action. The officer, who works off-duty at the building, is now on restricted duty and will not be allowed to work any off-duty jobs for the time being.

Also, Chief David Brown has asked the district attorney and the city attorney's office to not proceed any further with any criminal charges against the protester, who faced charges of assault of a police officer, or any other occupiers until the groups can meet again next week to discuss the issue.

E-mail rlopez@wfaa.com

 

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