Austin, TX. February 5th 2012-
Saturday evening, the Austin Police Department used an unnecessarily large police presence to intimidate Occupy Austin protesters who were legally and peaceably gathered at City Hall. Occupy Austin held its regularly scheduled General Assembly at 7pm which complied with the new rules, imposed unilaterally by City Manager, Marc Ott, prohibiting free speech after 10pm and 6 am. During the meeting, the Assembly reached consensus that rather than reacting to the eviction, Occupy members would bring proposals to Monday night’s General Assembly with concrete ideas on how the movement will continue to move forward. In compliance with the new rules the General Assembly officially ended at 9 pm. Following the conclusion of the Assembly, 100 Occupiers left City Hall in order to participate in a previously planned march to conclude with a rally at the ARCH in solidarity with, and in support of, the members of the Austin Community that are experiencing homelessness.
After a silent march, protesters rallied at the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH), located on the corner 7th and Neches. The rally was interrupted by an assortment of police vehicles accompanied by around 4 dozen police officers. Not desiring a confrontation with the police, Occupiers stopped the rally and peacefully walked away from the ARCH. Police then lined up along San Jacinto and 6th street in what appeared to be an attempt to corner the group. Occupiers continued to peaceably walk and eventually dispersed into smaller groups. At one point, some Occupiers entered two 6th street venues with the intention of enjoying what remained of their Saturday evening. APD dispatched more than 20 officers to both entrances of the venues. As of this press release there are no reports of arrests. Additional police presence remained at City Hall well after the march in which officers allowed citizens who were well dressed to use the space to pass through and forced those who were casually dressed to walk around the property (a video of the incident is attached).
Occupy Austin is repulsed to see that taxpayer money was waisted yet again on a frivolous and obviously unnecessary police presence which seemed to be clearly orchestrated for providing an opportunity for sensationalist journalism and propaganda about our movement. Occupy Austin stands, as it always has, on the premise that we are a non-violent protest exercising our First Amendment rights. We are comprised of people from all walks of life; we are your sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, and children. Occupy Austin will continue its fight to educate and bring about positive changes that will enable true democracy to prevail through nonviolent marches, the movement of money from corporate banks to local credit unions, teach-ins, and other non-violent, Constitutionally protected, actions.