A Week After DPD And Texas State Troopers Kettled, Ambushed, Detained And Traumatized Some 700 Dallas Protesters On The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, A Look Back.
All photos by Dylan Hollingsworth.
On Monday, June 1, officers from the Dallas Police Department and troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety kettled, ambushed, detained and traumatized more than 700 peaceful protesters who were marching in demand of immediate police reform and additional structural changes to our society’s systemically racist policies.
These law enforcement agents greeted marchers in full riot gear on the west end of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in West Dallas — a landmark that, ironically, had been previously dubbed the “Bridge to Nowhere” by critics of its necessity in the Dallas press. They fired smoke bombs, tear gas and rubber bullets into these crowds, who were met upon retreat by more officers that had followed them up the east end of the bridge’s on-ramp to confine them there. They did this all under a massive and billowing American flag that flies above the bridge.
In the seven days that have passed since that excessive show of force — the very same that these protesters had been decrying and continue to call out — many questions about police action on the bridge still remain, and few answers have been given.
Still, we know a lot.
We know that 674 people were held on the bridge for as much as four hours before being released that night, their wrists very tightly zip-tied behind their backs — and that this figure does not count those who were able to run past the officers or jump off the edge of the bridge and avoid arrest.
We know that, following two hours of peaceful, speaker-oriented protest at the Frank Crowley Courts Building, a march broke out on the streets, where DPD forcefully and vocally blocked all exit valves except the on-ramp onto the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. We know that DPD’s Chief Renee Hall says her officers warned protesters multiple times not to go up the on-ramp. We know that none of four who were covering the event that night for Central Track remember hearing any such request.
We know that versions of this same kettling tactic were attempted all weekend long by DPD throughout the less-contained Downtown Dallas environment in the days leading up to this moment on the bridge, with protesters and officers continuously and violently clashing in the streets throughout Saturday in particular.
We know that Chief Hall has since announced that her department will not be pressing charges on those it detained on the bridge on June 1, but there remains confusion over whether that was her call or ultimately that of Dallas District Attorney John Cruezot, who had reportedly refused to accept DPD’s “obstruction of a highway” charges as early as the very night of the incident.
We know that Chief Hall has told City Hall she has still not been able to determine whether officers shot non-lethal bullets or tear gas into the crowds — despite plenty of evidence, including our own six-and-a-half hour stream from the night (see below) and our own photos taken that night (see above), backing up claims that the department used exactly those things. (Update: As documents exclusively obtained by Central Track later revealed, the police did, in fact, knowingly use tear gas on bridge protesters.)
Plenty has been written elsewhere about that night to date, including two separate D Magazine accounts from freelance journalists, both of whom were present on the scene and one of which was even detained.
Having been on the scene myself — but never detained after police identified me as a journalist — I can confirm, at least from a distance, the veracity of those accounts.
I would also like to add just a few more words to describe DPD and DPS’s actions on the bridge that night:
Frankly, I could go on — just as DPD and other police have with impunity for far too long.
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