Despite the recent riots in Philadelphia and New York City, a North Texas district attorney didn’t discuss how he’ll handle possible Election Day riots until asked. In light of the riots that hit Dallas this summer, citizens are concerned about whether their DA will do his job.
With the memory of protests-turned-riots this summer fresh in their minds, citizens of the City of Dallas demanded a plan to deal with possible Election Day riots. In a memo dated October 23, Assistant City Manager Jon Fortune responded and delivered a plan.
Gov. Greg Abbott indicated he’s also concerned about potential violence around Election Day, directing the Texas National Guard to dispatch troops to support local law enforcement in five major cities, including Dallas.
Thursday morning, Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot held a press conference asking for “assistance in locating individuals who may have information regarding injuries sustained during protests over the summer.” He was referring to protestors injured by rubber bullets fired by Dallas police during protests from late May to early June.
Creuzot did not mention any plan to deal with possible election-related riots.
“Probably going after conservatives or cops who justify defending themselves,” Texas Gun Rights Director Chris McNutt commented on an announcement of Creuzot’s press conference.
“He’s prosecuting cops, not criminals,” radio host Chris Salcedo added.
Texas Scorecard asked Creuzot what assurances business owners and citizens have that their district attorney’s office will hold lawbreakers accountable should riots return.
“Well, first of all, I don’t assume that we’re going to have a breakout of violence,” he replied. “I think that Dallas is a peaceful city.”
“I think that there may be people who come in who may want to foment violence and do that. And if they did that, we’re going to hold them responsible if we can prove a case,” he continued.
If we have evidence and we can prove a case that somebody committed a crime … and your particular circumstance related to elections—that doesn’t really matter to us. But if there’s an assaultive offense or anything beyond that, obviously we’re going to investigate, and I’m sure the police would investigate, and we’re going to do what’s necessary based on the evidence that we can get.
“Assaultive offense? What about property crimes? Or is letting the city burn ok?” asked citizen organization Keep Dallas Safe.
In June, when protestors—led by controversial “defund police” activist Dominique Alexander—were arrested for blocking traffic on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, Creuzot refused to prosecute them. His office later denied interfering with the police.
There are many questions about that night. Protestors claim they were led into a trap on the bridge and abused by the police.
Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall was recorded giving orders to arrest the protestors. “Snatch ’em up. We will not allow them to be rowdy. Do not allow them to get out of hand,” she ordered. Other officers can be heard cheering for her decision.
Days earlier, Hall said bricks were being thrown at officers and the tires of police vehicles were slashed.
Police reported the use of tear gas, pepper balls, and foam bullets during the bridge incident, but not live ammunition. Questions have been asked as to who gave the order to use tear gas, as Hall said she did not give permission for its use.
While there is much concern over how protestors were treated and how police acted, not enough has been given to business owners and citizens who were traumatized by the riots. Rioters in Dallas set off fires, looted businesses, and physically assaulted citizens.
Much of the downtown area boarded up to protect themselves from violence, and citizens led a prayer walk for healing and unity.
Dallas City Council’s move in September to cut $7 million from police overtime only heightened citizens’ fears and fueled concern about whether elected officials would look out for them.
One of the organizers of the protests-turned-riots, Dominique Alexander, helped campaign for Creuzot and has a history in Dallas city politics.
When asked by Texas Scorecard this week if he maintains communications with Alexander, Creuzot said: “Um, I mean, will he call me occasionally? Yes. Do I speak to him very much? No. I mean, maybe once or twice.”
Creuzot then asked for clarification of the term “communication,” which we defined as “conversations.” Creuzot said he didn’t believe he had spoken with Alexander during the George Floyd protests.
Creuzot’s Thursday morning press conference may be viewed here.
Dallas citizens concerned about possible election-related riots may contact DA Creuzot, while citizens across Texas concerned about possible riots may contact their city council, district attorney, and sheriff.
Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot: 214-653-3600; firstname.lastname@example.org
This article has been updated since publication.