DALLAS - The 41-day Occupy Dallas protest movement could come to an end within hours or days if the demonstrators don't adhere to an ultimatum from the city.
On Tuesday morning, a federal court ruling cleared the way for the city to evict protesters from a small park behind City Hall. But at least for one night, Dallas leaders gave them a reprieve.
Day 41 was filled with anxiety on all sides. It left Dallas city leaders contemplating eviction, and protesters wondering if police were going to move in.
A small army of Dallas police officers stood ready in case they were ordered to disband the camp.
But late Tuesday afternoon, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings issued a statement saying the protesters would not be evicted Tuesday night.
However, the city issued a stern warning: Obey the laws and stay until December 14; violate them, and suffer the consequences.
"You've got to stop using marijuana on the premises, or taking drugs on the premises," said Occupy Dallas lawyer Jonathan Winocour speaking to a "general assembly" of about 100 protesters. "If you've been drinking on the premises, it needs to stop."
Earlier, Winocour asked a federal judge for a temporary restraining order to keep the protest at the small park behind City Hall. But when the judge denied it, clearing the way for eviction, some protesters laid down their signs inside City Hall.
Dallas city leaders said they're willing to work with the demonstrators as long as they follow a nine-condition agreement the two sides made last month.
"If you can't exercise self-discipline and do not value the political speech you wish to make ... then you will face eviction," said Winocour, in a plea to the demonstrators.
Mayor Rawlings said the paramount concern of the city is public safety and health at the encampment. The city attorney will meet with the Occupy Dallas lawyer for further discussion on Wednesday morning.