DALLAS (AP) — The organizer of a demonstration in downtown Dallas to protest police use of force against black people was arrested about an hour before the start of the Wednesday event, which the city’s police chief had asked him to cancel.
Dominique Alexander, founder of the Next Generation Action Network, was arrested on a trespassing charge outside City Hall, said Kim Cole, the group’s attorney. The demonstration proceeded as scheduled, with about two dozen people attending.
The group also organized the July 7 protest and march that ended in the sniper shooting deaths of five police officers. Earlier in the afternoon, Dallas Police Chief David Brown said he wouldn’t meet with organizers of the protest unless they cancel any future downtown demonstrations.
Brown posted his email exchange with Alexander to a police blog Wednesday a few hours before the 6:30 p.m. protest. In the email exchange, Alexander agreed to compromise by making the event a rally instead of a march. But Brown said holding the events downtown poses a tactical threat to police regardless.
“What’s more important than our officers (sic) safety… cancel it and don’t schedule anymore in the downtown area… I insist,” Brown wrote in an email that included the ellipses.
A police spokeswoman said Alexander was issued a criminal trespass warning and arrested on unrelated outstanding warrants for failure to appear.
Cole declined to comment on whether she thought the arrest was meant to stop the protest but said, “There was no desire for this protest to move forward from law enforcement.”
She also said the group would continue to hold demonstrations in downtown Dallas, regardless of the police department appeals.
Brown spoke to the Dallas City Council Tuesday about the ongoing investigation into the shootings that left four Dallas police officers and one Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer dead as well as several other officers and civilians wounded. Shooter Micah Johnson was also killed.
Brown told the council he is increasingly worried for officer safety with downtown protests. He said officers would continue to staff the protests and rallies, but would crack down on protesters who blocked traffic or attempted to shut down freeways.
The Next Generation Action Network, a Dallas-based civil rights group, held a protest march on July 29 that attracted several dozen protesters compared with nearly 1,000 at the July 7 event. The July 29 march did not include a police escort, and officers armed with rifles in riot gear ordered protesters off the streets to the sidewalks
Alexander, an ordained Baptist preacher and a convicted felon whose uncle died in a police-involved shooting, has asked the City Council to meet to discuss violence toward African-Americans. Alexander and a handful of protesters went to City Hall for a Wednesday council meeting to make several requests, including asking the city to form an independent review board to investigate police shootings.
Associated Press writer Emily Schmall in Dallas contributed.
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