It’s early Friday morning, and I need to be going to bed. Sufficed to say, a lot has happened in the past 24-hours with “Occupy Dallas.” The camp has been dismantled by the Dallas Police.
I’ll have much more to say about this in coming days. The short version is that, pretty clearly, the City of Dallas decided against the choice to de-escalate the tension in the camp, as I had implored them to do the other night. They had a choice, but chose to believe otherwise.
I know that my email was received because somebody from City Hall called yesterday morning to talk about it, saying that it was “getting quite a lot of attention.”
To which I said, “Good.”
But, in retrospect, it wasn’t enough. Or, perhaps the decisions had already been made? Who knows. What is known is that the city acted last night and cleared the camp with about 90 minutes notice.
Here is my own view:
a) The Occupy Camp was not unsanitary and unsafe, despite what the city is saying, and the decision to close it now is completely arbitrary.
I saw this on numerous trips with my own eyes. The camp was quite clean and orderly, despite what is being said. All campsites look messy when you tear them apart. But what I saw, repeatedly, were Occupy Dallas people attempting to live up to their agreement, picking up the camp, respecting the trees, grass, etc. And, on more than one occasion, debating how they could better comply with the city. That’s just what I observed.
b) If, in fact, tensions were escalating inside the group, then the City and its leadership, as our public servants, bears much of the responsibility for this.
The city (police, City Manager) was putting pressure on the group, through an almost constant police presence. It built to a crescendo Tuesday night, when the group (and apparently all the new media, and news helicopters) believed that a raid was about to happen. The group was feeling it. The city had to have understood that this kind of show of force, on a consistent basis, could not help but increase the internal tension within the group. This is human nature.
Therefore, the increase in intra-group tension, to the extent that it existed, was in large part exacerbated by the city and police itself. Intra-group tension was a predictable outcome of this, and the city (and everyone else trying to analyze what happened) should not fail to account for this.
c) Dallas had the chance to be different, but in the long run chose not to be.
It made an agreement with the Occupy Dallas group. Nobody forced them to. The city will claim that the group broke faith with them. If in fact the agreement was broken at all, it was also most definitely also breached by the city, and certainly made abiding by the agreement difficult at every turn.
Dallas could have chosen to respond differently than Oakland, New York and elsewhere. It could have, as Forbes Magazine hoped, been different.
Now, Dallas is clearly not different, and I am saddened, disappointed, and ashamed of my city’s leaders.*
Much more could be said.
But for now, a short video, emailed to me tonight by old friend, John Wolf (of Crawford Peace House fame, for all yall Camp Casey friends…) I stumbled into him at the back of City Hall tonight, as the Occupy Dallas folks began to regroup and plan their next steps. Like me, he was just coming by to check on them and see how they were.
He tells me this little guy’s name is Cyrus.
It’s a pretty good reminder that the Occupy Movement is not over, by a long shot. The message comes to us, even out of the mouths of babes. (Thanks, John…)
*BTW, in my mind, I do not include ordinary police officers, even those who carried out the raid, in this critique. I believe the decision was likely made by the City Manager and Chief of Police. The rank and file DPD officers heroically do their jobs, and are often caught in the midst of challenging situations like this too. I know some of the “Occupiers” feel differently about the DPD, and if I was pressured as they were for weeks on end, I might be in their place too.
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