by Jim Lane
DALLAS -- Two marches and a rally on November 5th showed some of our immediate problems, some of the underlying reasons, and some of the solutions being developed.
Environmental racism brought a racially mixed crowd of 200-300 to the streets at 10 AM. We met at Founders Park in Oak Cliff and marched across the Houston Viaduct to Ferris Plaza in downtown Dallas. Our theme was "We are Not Trash!" Speakers at both ends of the march explained that the City of Dallas wants to enlarge a landfill site in South Oak Cliff by making it the city's only trash processing and dumping ground. The site in the Stuart-Simpson area is a virtually all-Black section. Students from Paul Quinn College, one of the few traditionally African American colleges left, took up the cause. They were smart enough to ask for help.
And help came from the other two main races in the area. Caucasian students pitched in. The League of United Latin American Citizens pitched in. City Councilwoman Delia Jasso and County Commissioner Elba Garcia brought people. Jobs with Justice, which is primarily connected with organized labor, joined. Most significantly in terms of numbers, mega-church Friendship West, brought people. The result was a meaningful march and a rousing rally with lots of media coverage. The pressure is on to stop the dump!
Less than two hours later, MoveOn.org began assembling people at the downtown Bank of America as part of its national call for actions against the bankers and speculators who are ruining the economy. We had well over 100 people even before Occupy Dallas came enthusiastically marching in with another 150! Like the earlier action, the Bank of America crowd was amazingly diverse in age, race, and gender.
Participants who had a good view of what happened during the rally said that a guard or off-duty policeman working for the bank created a violent situation by pushing two of the rally leaders to the ground. Eight arrests and one non-serious injury resulted on our side, while the corporate news reported that three policemen were injured. If police were really injured, it was because of their zeal in attacking the protesters, not because anybody on our side chose violence.
The police then lined up a few feet from the curb and dared anyone to step off the sidewalk. The few that did were thrown to the ground and arrested. Some participants said that pepper-spray was used.
After a half hour or so of angry standoff, the Occupy Wall Street group decided to march to another bank. Some of the MoveOn protesters remained and received a lesson on divide-and-conquer tactics. A Dallas policeman came over to tell them that the OWS people had been violent, but that he understood that the MoveOn people weren't. Outraged, the MoveOn group set out in pursuit of the OWS group to join in! Rallies and marches went on until the final effort at the County Jail at 3 AM. By the next morning, all protesters had been freed, but the police said that they were going to charge one of them with a felony for assaulting an official and resisting arrest.
Confronted with immediate and long term economic injustice, the people of Dallas are coming together. We are learning who our friends and enemies are, and a few things about tactics.
Everybody needed some rest, because the march in solidarity with the people of Syria was scheduled for Sunday afternoon.