DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall announced Thursday the Dallas Police Department will not file charges at-large against the 600-plus protesters detained Monday night on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.
She made the decision after consulting with City Manager T.C. Broadnax and other city leaders and police department leadership, the department said in a news release.
"I strongly believe we made the right decisions to deter and disperse the large crowd on the bridge," said Chief Hall. "We had to protect the protesters from vehicular injury on a roadway still open to traffic. It was critically important to process protesters and then safely reopen the bridge."
The night of the protest that started at Dallas Police Headquarters, people started walking once the curfew began.
Once they got onto the bridge, police were waiting and took them into custody and escorted them away on buses.
Protesters did not appear to resist, many saying all along they were going to defy the curfew and they did.
Police said they would enforce the curfew and they did.
Since that night, Chief Hall and Broadnax have participated in peaceful Dallas demonstrations and conversations with organizers, faith leaders and residents throughout the city protesting and mourning George Floyd's death.
"In any form, racism is the enemy not the protesters," said Broadnax. "I agree with Chief Hall that this is the right decision at the right time. This week the protests have been peaceful and I was truly moved to see our officers taking a knee at yesterday's event. Now is the time for collaboration and compassion not confrontation."
Chief Hall and Broadnax also emphasized, however, the Dallas Police Department will still "move swiftly to protect people and property in Dallas if looting, property crimes and violence reoccur." They also noted that most of the people arrested over the weekend were not from Dallas.
"Today's decision is not permission to damage businesses or commit this kind of action in our city," said Hall. "If you break the law, especially serious acts such as brick-throwing, looting, Molotov cocktails, as well as behavior that risks the lives of peaceful protesters as well as our officers, you will be arrested because we will not tolerate that kind of behavior."
Broadnax also expressed concern that the protests will produce a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases.
"Today, we saw the highest number of COVID-19 cases," said Broadnax. "Our minority communities have borne the brunt of this health and economic crisis. We are concerned these demonstrations will produce a large number of new cases. I'd like to urge anyone who has been in close proximity of these large crowds to get tested at one of the City's drive-through Community-Based Testing Sites."
Broadnax and Hall both said they are deeply encouraged the demonstrations have been peaceful in the last few days.
"Please accept our commitment to make concrete progress quickly at the City of Dallas," said Broadnax. "Everything is on the table, and together we can move quickly to find ways that produce changes that value justice, integrity, transparency and good governance. Hopefully, we can turn this pain and anger into action in Dallas."
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