Squabbles with the city over failure to obtain a $1 million insurance policy led members of Occupy Dallas to file a federal injunction against the city Wednesday afternoon. It is expected to go in front of a judge tomorrow.
Occupy Dallas was issued a permit to stay on city grounds provided the obtained a $1 million insurance policy. The group, which has been camped out in Pioneer Plaza for over a week, never got the insurance policy and the city revoked their permit on Tuesday and threatened to begin enforcing city policies.
According to the group, such insurance policy does not exist.
“I have spent half of the day trying to find an insurance company that will write an insurance policy for something like this, and guess what? There isn’t any, so this business of asking for a million dollars worth of insurance is asking for something that’s an impossibility to comply with — simple as that,” Occupy Dallas attorney Cameron Gray said to NBC Dallas.
Upon revoking the permit, city spokesman Frank Libro sent out an email detailing the city’s position. The text, provided by Dallas City Hall Blog, read: “”The City had an agreement with Occupy Dallas to remain on the public property provided standard insurance coverage was obtained. The group did not meet the insurance requirements per the agreement. Therefore, the agreement is no longer applicable. The City will begin enforcing local laws (for example: park curfews and sleeping in public).”
A response post on Occupy Dallas’ Facebook page said, “Oh, man. My permit just expired. Oh, well. What’s for dinner?”
That day, Michael Prestonise, editor of OccupyDallas.org; Glynn Wilcox, an advisor for the group; and Cameron Grey, an attorney with Occupy Dallas filed a federal injunction against the city in order to remain in Pioneer Park indefinitely, regardless of the insurance policy.
Their Facebook said, “It is the unanimous consensus of Occupy Dallas that the very act of requiring a permit to gather in a public place for the purpose of peaceful assembly is a violation of our constitutional rights.”
City council member Dwayne Caraway talked to protesters on Wednesday. The group’s website expected Caraway to visit “in a show of solidarity with the protesters,” and while Caraway said he was sympathetic to their cause, he openly agreed with the city’s request that they obtain a $1 million insurance policy – the required amount for the group that size.
“For example during that bad storm, had lightening struck somebody, then the city is liable. They’re not being charged rent; they are simply being told there is a need for them to have proper security which is a public safety matter,” he said.
Caraway said he wanted to see city ordinances respected, and that the Dallas City Council had “to do what protects the city and what’s in the best interest of the city.”
Occupy Dallas responded to Caraway’s concerns on Facebook this morning:
“Dwaine Caraway is worried about liability. He mentions people being struck by lightning and his concern was that the city would be liable… not that the person could be struck by lightning. Call him and tell him liability is denying a peaceful public assembly access to restrooms for over a week. When a 19 year old women is walking four city blocks at 4 am to use the facilities THAT is liability. – Dwaine Caraway – 214-670-0781.”
The group is providing a live stream of their protest, found here.