x
Breaking News
More () »

Dallas's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Dallas, Texas | WFAA.com

Dallas police chief says she won't file criminal charges against more than 600 protesters

Dallas police Chief Reneé Hall reversed her decision to file charges against 674 people who went onto Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge during a demonstration Monday.

Dallas police Chief Reneé Hall reversed her decision to file misdemeanor criminal charges against more than 600 people who went onto the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge during demonstrations Monday night.

Though Hall described the protesters as "peaceful" during a Tuesday morning news conference, she said they broke the law by blocking the road.

The chief said the group was warned not to go onto the bridge. They were detained for hours.

"If you break the law, we will arrest you," Hall said Tuesday.

But Thursday afternoon, the chief released a statement saying she had consulted with Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax and other city leaders and ultimately decided not to file the charges against the people.

Police officials said 674 people faced a class B misdemeanor charge of obstructing the highway.

“I strongly believe we made the right decisions to deter and disperse the large crowd on the bridge,” Hall said in a written statement Thursday. “We had to protect the protesters from vehicular injury on a roadway still open to traffic. It was critically important to process protesters and then safely reopen the bridge.”

RELATED: Fifth day of protests in North Texas sees curfew zone extensions, more police and protester dialogue

Dallas has seen days of demonstrations in response to the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.

City officials said the chief and other leaders have participated in the demonstrations.

Broadnax said in a statement that he was "truly moved" to see Dallas police officers take a knee during protests Wednesday night.

“In any form, racism is the enemy not the protesters,” the city manager said of the decision not to file the charges.

RELATED: What do protesters want? Here are 10 demands sent to the Dallas Police Department, local leaders

Hall said the decision does not mean that protesters will be allowed to behave destructively.

An internal police memo shows that more than 50 businesses in downtown Dallas were damaged "due to looting and/or civil unrest" over the weekend.

The memo also states that "multiple officers" were injured by projectiles and that a Dallas police horse was injured.

The document predicts that "daily lawful protests" could be "infiltrated and exploited by actors, whose primary purpose is destruction, looting, and illicit activity."

Police said Molotov cocktails and bricks have been found in areas around the demonstrations.

The internal memo also states that there could be possible threats against officers and their homes.

Hall said that people who put at risk "the lives of peaceful protesters as well as our officers ... will be arrested because we will not tolerate that kind of behavior."

Dallas police monitor Tonya McClary said her office has received at least 50 complaints about the actions of Dallas police officers during the recent protests. Those complaints were primarily about the use of smoke and projectiles on the crowds.

Broadnax said city leaders are committed to making local changes.

"Hopefully, we can turn this pain and anger into action in Dallas,” the city manager said.

Reporter Tanya Eiserer contributed to this report. 

RELATED: Dallas police monitor has received at least 50 complaints over handling of protests

Dallas police chief addresses protests: