I doubt this will make any of the news publications, so i'm writing my
own account of what happened earlier this morning in Deep Ellum.
I was at the Spoonfed Tribe New Years show at the Curtain Club when, as
a finale, the drumline took to the streets in an ad-hoc celebratory
parade involving everyone present and everyone in the vicinity outside.
The parade, consisting of several hundred, maybe as many as a
thousand, progressed and gained momentum until it made it's way onto
Elm Street where we were met with several Dallas Police Officers who
immediately armed themselves with rubber-bullet guns and pepper spray.
All who did not immediately stop and turn around were subjected to
pepper spray and threatened with the rubber-bullet guns. After some
pepper spray and confiscation of instruments the parade made it's way
back to where it came from outside of the Curtain Club where it
continued its instrumental drum piece until the police came in with
more pepper spray and rubber-bullet guns. Those standing in the street
faced charges of blocking traffic, those on the sidewalks faced charges
of blocking foot traffic and it was essentially made clear that it was
now against the law to be in the public vicinity of what was happening.
Several people were pepper-sprayed, tackled, pinned to the ground and
corralled to the middle of the intersection. One girl was dragged off
the sidewalk and charged for supposedly screaming obscenities. A man
with whom I was having a very peaceful and civilized observational
conversation about what was happening was threatened to leave or he'd
be arrested, after being told a few times, the police officer told the
man it was obvious he had too much to drink and that if he didn't leave
voluntarily, he would be hauled away. The man said he definitely had
not had too much to drink and was not intoxicated in any way, I know
this as I was just talking to him, immediately he was grabbed by the
arm and taken to the center of the intersection with the others. The
fucked-up thing about it was that it almost seemed like the police
officer was looking for an excuse to make the man do something
irrational, to make it appear that the man was resisting arrest, which,
by all means, he should have done. The manager of the band was out
making sure his band members were safe, asking the police what was
happening and collecting badge numbers for his records when he himself
was pinned and tied up. A man who was videotaping everything was also
cited and the property seized (at least temporarily). Most tragic of
all was witnessing a man having been targeted for having done nothing
wrong, tackled for resisting arrest, pinned to the ground, sprayed
directly in the face and tied up. This same man, who was already on
the ground, tied up was sprayed at least two more times during the
night, since those are the ones i witnessed, apparently because the
police disagreed with what he had to say.
Throughout the night, I believe 17 were cited related to this incident.
Most of the charges of the people i'd talked to were for public
intoxication, none of whom received a field sobriety test and most of
whom, from my personal experience were definitely not intoxicated.
Most of the people who were corralled to the center of the intersection
appeared to be peaceful innocent bystanders, not unruly, violent or
belligerent drunkards. I took several pictures (albeit poor, using a
camera phone) throughout the ordeal and made it clear that the police
were being watched. Despite the fact that it was then illegal to be in
the vicinity, I and several others stayed to ensure the safety of those
detained and much of the night was spent playing games with those
designated to keep people off the streets or sidewalks.
Rights were clearly and blatantly violated, particularly the first
(speech/assembly), fourth and eighth. Granted, it was a large group of
people, but it was a gathering in public in a peaceful, jubilant,
celebratory manner. I've been in places where at a minutes notice, an
entire city can explode with celebration and it be socially acceptable,
this time, the Dallas Police Department went too far. Peaceful
celebrators were treated like violent rioters. Property, especially
cameras and video equipment were seized and excessive force and
punishment was used... no one who is tied up and lying on the ground,
already in pain from having been tackled and sprayed deserves to be
pepper-sprayed two (possibly more) times. Fortunately, the most
discomfort I experienced was a brief moment of second-hand pepper
spray, which lasted about as long as it took the tears to clear out,
though, I could easily have been taken in for public intoxication, as
the person I was talking to at the time was. Considering I haven't had
a drop of alcohol in weeks, it would have been fun to watch them try
and justify a public intoxication charge.
That side, I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe New Years Eve.
Feel free to forward this to as many people you see fit, as I do not
expect it to be accurately portrayed (if at all) in local media.