Officers arrest Occupy Houston protestors

November 16, 2011 4:34:32 AM PST
Occupy protesters in downtown Houston remained defiant as police carted some of them off to jail Tuesday night.

Things got testy between the protesters and police when officers asked a group of the demonstrators to remove a tarp that had been set up at Tranquility Park.

A group of Occupy Houston protesters made themselves available Wednesday morning and told Eyewitness News that they have primarily had a good relationship with the Houston police, but that wasn't the case on Tuesday evening.

The protest site was peaceful again on Wednesday morning, and over the last month has included anywhere from two dozen to four or five dozen people from the Occupy Houston movement.

Houston police say the incident started at around 8:40pm Tuesday. Police say they asked some of the protesters to take down a tarp, saying it was violating a city ordinance against "erecting a structure in a city park."

Over the course of two hours, more officers arrived and some protesters, according to HPD, still refused to cooperate. In the end, seven protesters were hauled off to jail on class C misdemeanors. The charges for some of them, in addition to putting up a structure in a city park, also included "failure to comply with lawful order."

One protestor told us about how the trouble began with a protester she describes as a two-time Iraq war veteran who is also homeless.

"They came in, they warned us that we had to take it down. He stood his ground," recalled protester Mary Belcik. "They came about three more times. I think it was four times total that they had requested him to remove his tent. When he denied, more cops, as this was going along, started to show up."

Most of the Occupy Houston protesters we spoke with said that it was clear that the police were requesting that they take the tarp down and they agreed taking it down was the right thing to do. But a small group of protesters decided to resist the instructions. Their attorney came to the site and advised them to comply with the police instructions. But that small group felt they needed to stand their ground.

An attorney at the scene on Wednesday said some of those arrested were not resisting, but merely observing. They want all of this to play out in court. Those arrested are hoping to appear in court during probable cause hearings, proclaim their innocence and air their grievances before a judge.

They say they feel the policy has been unfair to them and they don't feel they did anything wrong. The tarp in question was covering medical supplies and other necessities, protecting them from the rain.


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