Some question police timing, tactics in removing Occupy Dallas

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by CRAIG CIVALE

WFAA

Posted on November 17, 2011 at 8:04 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 12 at 12:39 AM

DALLAS - For 43 days, they occupied Dallas, in violation of city ordinances that weren't enforced. That is, until shortly after midnight on Thursday morning.

Which for some begged the question, why now?

"There was just too much of the, first of all, violations of the house rules and going forward, [there was] the risk of more crimes occurring," said Dallas Police Chief David Brown.

Brown said the problems were escalating, pointing to recent protests like the one at the Bank of America building where tempers flared and arrests were made. He also described growing health concerns at the camp.

"As we tore down the tents and picked up the trash last night, they were the most unsanitary conditions you can imagine," Brown said. "It really was a public health concern, increasing with trash and litter [and] with human waste."

There have been a number of complaints about how much notice was given to Occupy Dallas protesters before police moved in to disband the camp. The attorney representing the demonstrators, Jonathan Winocour, said he was given only 15 minutes notice before police surrounded the camp.

Wincour argued with police over the handling of it all, and he's not alone in disputing the breakup. City council member Angela Hunt told News 8 reporter Monika Diaz the move was "heavy-handed" as police moved in.

"The police presence here seems very much like overkill to me," Hunt said. "And not a very good use of our resources."

But others on the city council say the eviction should have been no surprise.

"Over and over again, we were starting to hear from the citizens very simply it was time to go home," said city council member Jerry Allen.

Judging from the protesters response, with marches and a press conference, that won't be happening anytime soon.

Some protesters reconvened at the area behind City Hall Thursday afternoon. Chief Brown said that is fine, as long as it is between the hours of 5 a.m. and midnight.

E-mail ccivale@wfaa.com

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