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Grand Jury Indicts Seven Occupy Houston Protesters

Houston, TX, – A grand jury, convened at the behest of the Harris County District Attorney’s office, indicted seven Occupy Houston protesters on felony charges. The demonstrators were arrested and charged with felonies on December 12 at the Port of Houston for obstructing a roadway using a “criminal instrument,” the label HPD applied to a few lengths of PVC pipe used to link the arms of the protesters. The charges had been dismissed last week by Judge Joan Campbell of the 248th District Court in Harris County on the grounds that there was no probable cause for the application of the felony charges.

Occupy Houston recognizes the aggressive response to the action at the Port of Houston as an effort to intimidate and discourage future expressions of political speech in the city. Since early October, Occupy participants and the HPD had enjoyed a somewhat positive relationship relative to the other violent crackdowns on occupations seen in cities such as New York and Oakland.

However, Occupy Houston has been highly alarmed and deeply critical of the recent behavior of local police, including the placement of tape over the names of officers on uniforms and the use of a large tent to conceal the actions of police from media coverage during the arrest of protesters at the port. As strong advocates for accountability and transparency of government and public officials, Occupy Houston believes these actions are a clear violation of the constitutional right to freedom of the press and warrant immediate investigation.

Moving forward, Occupy Houston plans to fight these unjust charges with every resource available to us, including the generous and invaluable assistance we receive from the National Lawyers Guild and their local affiliated attorneys, who have so graciously and selflessly offered their time and expertise to us since the outset of the occupation.

Occupy Houston also calls on Harris County, the City of Houston and the Houston Police Department to cease their campaign to suppress the free speech of local citizens through fear and intimidation tactics, legal and otherwise.

Dustin Phipps
Occupy Houston
Outreach Volunteer Group

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