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Occupy Austin working with city to avoid further arrests

After mass arrests this weekend sent around 40 Occupy Austin protesters to jail, the movement’s members are working with city officials and the police to find

Darren Mcpherson
News
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Nov 03, 2011

After mass arrests this weekend sent around 40 Occupy Austin protesters to jail, the movement’s members are working with city officials and the police to find a compromise over the new city rules that sparked the arrests at Austin City Hall.

On Monday, a group of occupiers met with Assistant City Manager Michael McDonald and Police Chief Art Acevedo to discuss the arrests and clarify city regulations posted Friday, prohibiting sleeping in certain areas at the Occupy site, leaving protest signs unattended, and keeping food tables up overnight. At the time it was posted, occupiers say they did not receive word back from the city after seeking to clarify the new rules. (Read the city memo below.)

Today, protesters received a response from the city (also embedded below), saying those arrested for criminal trespass — who’d been barred from the plaza for two years — could be allowed to return after an administrative review process. Beginning today, the city is also making its cleanup hours earlier, and said it would permit food tables, though it didn’t indicate when they will be allowed. Sleeping bags are still not permitted on the mezzanine, according to the new memo.

City officials say they will make an effort to give “additional notice to an individual before making an arrest based on the person’s failure to move out of an area at City Hall.”

Henry Morales, a legal adviser for the local movement, says although the city has cooperated during the meetings and been open to discussion, the movement remains concerned about protesters’ First Amendment rights. Morales says when drafting the new rules for the food tables — a point that led to many of the arrests — the city manager abused his authority by circumventing the city council.

The council, Morales says, is tasked with making ordinances the city manager must enforce. Morales said the group is discussing legal action, though it isn’t their first priority.

“It is bearable in some sense, but we are still bothered by a couple of things and aren’t quite sure why they are sticking with certain rules,” he said. “Our First Amendment rights need to be honored.”

The group plans to discuss the city response during general assembly meetings over the next two days. Morales says they’ve offered to pay for the city’s routine power-washing of the plaza from their own account, to avoid using taxpayer dollars. Austin Occupiers are weighing their options and are expected to respond back to the city by Friday.

City of Austin memo on Occupy Austin

City of Austin response to Occupy Austin

Darren Mcpherson | Darren's gift and passion for seeing great potential and acting on it have helped him to develop his career and perform to audiences all over the world, stemming from a childhood obsession with magic and visualization. He now partners with leading brands to help their workers manage the high-stress, rapid change, and fast-paced world that has become the norm. Darren demonstrates how to reconnect with what matters most in life so that they can accomplish every goal while having the time of their lives.

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