Here is the open letter that Occupy Dallas sent to the police department on Sunday.
Lt. Anthony W. Williams,
After examining footage and speaking with members of your police organization, it has come to our attention that you were the ranking officer at our march yesterday that began at Bank of America Plaza. While we would normally expect a field commander to distance himself from the action to keep from being emotionally compromised, we’ve seen a lot of footage of you personally handling protesters. It is for this reason that we address this open letter for the Dallas Police Department, to you.
First, we’d like to state a few facts for you. We are not a violent revolution; we are trying to prevent one. Yesterday, Occupy Dallas took part in a nation-wide protest aimed at the multinational for-profit banks who have received billions in Government bailouts at the taxpayer’s expense. These banks crashed our economy, refused to take responsibility and have yet to be held accountable for their actions. As the American economy suffered, these banks made ridiculous amounts of money through unethical fees. According to CUNA, over 650,000 new accounts have been opened at credit unions across the country. A sum total of $4.5 Billion dollars has been moved from the large corporate banks into non-profit credit unions and community banks. We are affecting change and will continue to do so.
To quote the General Assembly of New York City, “We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice and oppression over equality, run our government. We have assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.” We are constitutionally granted this right. We will relentlessly defend our right to do so in the streets and in the courts, with or without tents. Even if our group is disrupted by violent police intervention, we will not cease to exercise our right to peaceably assemble.
Yesterday, several officers under your command chose to aggressively instigate violence with our group. We have video footage of protesters being pulled from a public side walk and thrown down onto the street. An officer with a riot shield mounted the curb and began slamming into protesters. Forced to the ground and surrounded by half a dozen officers, protesters were pepper sprayed by a female officer holding a camera. She is visible in the photograph above this letter on our website, holding her pepperspray and camera above protesters on the ground. (http://www.occupydallas.org)
It was also clear that several other plain clothes officers were permitted to stand in the middle of the street holding cameras as well. We will be utilizing the Freedom of Information Act to acquire this footage as we have done to acquire documentation regarding police actions in other cities.
We are concerned about the actions of Officer Jay Hollis, badge #6896, in particular. Video footage taken by our protesters show this officer shoving an individual off of a four-foot wall and down to onto the street. He was later interviewed by one of our protesters who demanded his name and badge number. When asked why he assaulted a protester, he responded flippantly that he asked him to move. Other incidences of assault have been identified in our footage. You are observing in some of them. Here is some footage for you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q93BYDp9HEA
The actions we are currently taking are as follows:
1) Statements are being collected from everyone at the scene of the disturbance. This includes statements by individuals who are not affiliated with Occupy Dallas. A member of Move On Dallas was apparently also assaulted by Officer Hollis and has expressed interest in pursuing legal action. Move On Dallas are sending their statements to us now.
2) We are collecting video footage of the incident and video specialists are combing it over to identify officers that violated the rights of protesters. We are specifically interested in the footage of the officer who is seen shaking a can of pepper-spray in one hand while holding a small camcorder in the other.
3) One of our attorneys is currently drawing up paperwork that may be necessary to file a civil suit against individual officers and the Dallas Police Department.
4) All further protest sites will be examined beforehand and video recording devices will be strategically placed.
5) Observers will be dispersed throughout the crowds with whistles. If an officer is seen acting inappropriately or in any way violating our rights, a whistle will be blown ordering our protesters to immediately sit on the ground quietly so the officer can be identified and his actions observed.
6) The extent to which we can coordinate our events with your department will be under review. While safety is paramount, we cannot allow information disclosed to your department to be used against us in an attempt to violate our rights to peacefully assemble in protest.
7) Non-violence is our weapon against violence. When your officers march with us, they are supporting our cause with their presence. When they use unnecessary force, it is our public relations campaign they are taking a part of. We thank you for your participation.
8) We are demanding the immediate release of all jailed protesters and that all charges are dropped immediately. Legal action will be pursued otherwise.
On a side note, last night several of us delivered coffee to members of Occupy Dallas that refuse to sleep until our protesters have been released. On our way through downtown we saw at least a hundred individuals walking an hour after the bars and clubs had let out. Many of them were stumbling in the middle of the streets towards their vehicles. We witnessed several street fights and even captured one on video. We counted five police vehicles present over five blocks on Main St. Three were pulled together in a parking lot two blocks away from a fight. Occupy Dallas camp was undoubtedly the safest area in downtown Dallas last night. I’ve uploaded a video for you here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZgs1oRwDKI
I would like to hazard a guess that there are more officers tailing our march in one hour from now, which is moving towards JFK Memorial than were on the streets of main policing inebriated individuals and preventing drunk drivers. Our event is peaceful, does not include the use of alcohol and is honoring the deaths of 35,000 protesters overseas that have been murdered for attempting to gain access to what we consider in this country to be basic human rights.
Currently, 8 of our members are in Lew Sterrett County Jail. 1 is being held for assault. 7 are being held for “inappropriate use of a sidewalk.” 3 of these 7 are being held pending an investigation for attempting to start a riot. Occupy Dallas has submitted all paperwork necessary to have our members bailed out and we did so before 10 am Sunday morning. They have still not been released. We have been informed the Dallas Police Department has not released the information to the bondsman necessary to have our members released. This is a clear disregard for our member’s right to habeas corpus. Your willingness to abuse the authority granted to you by the citizens of this city is showing.
We can only assume that your department's exaggerated response to our protests have been due to what it is we are protesting: corruption.
Thank you, Lt. Williams for your support.
- The 99%