Occupy Dallas protesters see upside to forced move

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on October 16, 2011 at 10:12 AM

Updated Sunday, Oct 16 at 10:14 PM

DALLAS — "Occupy Dallas" packed up its original downtown campsite at Pioneer Plaza and moved down the street to a smaller park in the shadow of City Hall Sunday, beating a 5 p.m. deadline mandated by city officials.

Moving day went relatively smoothly. Facing eviction from Pioneer Plaza, the 150 protesters agreed to shift their large camp a few hundred feet away to a lower-profile park.

"It was a huge undertaking," said protester Stacey Wrocklage. "We had to do a lot of stuff."

Occupy Dallas, protesting corporate greed, had set up their first camp at a park in front of the Dallas Convention Center 10 days ago.

Nearly everyone agreed to the move the city suggested. The protesters took great care to leave Pioneer Plaza clean.

"With the amount of people that was here, they were very clean," said maintenance worker Eula Rabb, who arrived to clean up the park.

Still, there were a handful of holdouts who insisted on remaining behind.

"When the government tells you to move and you are protesting, it makes sense to continue protesting," said Tymaeus Yunker, 21, sitting on the lawn in front of a sign that read: "This is my home. This is my right."

While the main protest group will now be camping away from Pioneer Plaza, organizers said they still intend to spend the days protesting at the park.

"Basically they just doubled our real estate," said protester Cordell Cameron. "I'm not sure what they got out of the agreement."

The city got the tents out of Pioneer Plaza, which is a main tourist draw for downtown Dallas.

Scott Hartford recently visited the park from his home in Bedford to see the cattle drive sculptures and the protests.

"They can protest," Hartford said. "I just don't know what they're protesting."

Although the protests vary, the overall theme is in opposition to corporate greed.  Organizers plan to spend this week figuring out specific demands.

"This week we're focusing on messaging elements we, as a group, need to promote," said protester Glynn Wilcox, a spokesman for Occupy Dallas.

Five people were arrested Saturday at the Occupy Fort Worth protest. Police cited two others.

Bryan Fredrick, 21, was one of those arrested. He arrived at the Dallas camp Sunday evening to share his experience.

"We were not issued citations, we were arrested," Fredrick said. "We spent 14 hours in jail last night!"

Officials in Fort Worth said they had a problem with the group setting up tents on the sidewalk. Although police warned the protesters to move, some refused. Those demonstrators returned to the area near Burnett Park on Sunday.

In Chicago, about 175 "Occupy" protesters were arrested early Sunday. They had refused to take down their tents and leave a city park.

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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