DALLAS (CN) – Occupy Wall Street has spread to Dallas, where members of Occupy Dallas sued the city in Federal Court, claiming the city unconstitutionally restricted “their right to peacably demonstrate in traditional public forums”. They seek an injunction allowing them to continue their weeklong protest at Pioneer Plaza.
Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City against economic inequality and corporate greed, protesters in Dallas have being living in a makeshift tent city in a park directly north of the Dallas Convention Center and west of Dallas City Hall.
The Occupy Dallas website says there are more than 120 people at the site.
In their complaint, protesters say the city threatened to revoke their special-use permit unless they secure $1 million in liability insurance.
The protesters say their protest is not a “special event” under city ordinances, and they do not need a special-use permit to exercise their First Amendment rights.
The city disagrees.
The Dallas Morning News reported on Tuesday night that city spokesman Frank Librio had sent “an email blast,” stating: “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 Therefore, the agreement is no longer applicable.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).”
So far, there have been no arrests.
City Councilman Dwayne Caraway told WFAA-TV on Wednesday that “nothing has happened because it’s been given time to try to work things through. If [attorneys for both sides] fail to get it worked through, or show effort toward trying to work it through, then the city has a right to go in and protect the property.”
Attorneys for the protesters say no insurance company could be found to write the policy.
Michael Prestonise, a 26-year-old freelance web designer and protester, told the Huffington Post that the dispute centers around toilets at the protest site.
“This is all about sanitation and health and safety of our members,” he said. “I think the more real threat is our people having to walk through the streets at 3, 4 a.m. just to find a public restroom.”
A ruling on the plaintiffs’ motion is expected today (Friday), by U.S. District Judge Jane Boyle.