UPDATE 4/19/21 4:57 PM: Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia announced “there will be no approval of exceptional leave for sworn members of the department until further notice,” while “pre-approved leave” would “be granted and honored.” Sworn officers on duty are “required to have their uniform and equipment ready and available.”

Amid local and national unrest as citizens await a verdict in the trial of former Minnesota Police Officer Derek Chauvin, Dallas businesses are experiencing protests and bracing for riots. The Dallas Police Department said it will take “whatever actions deemed appropriate” should riots return, while Democrat District Attorney John Creuzot remains silent.

Last Week’s Protest

On Tuesday, April 13, a protest started at the Dallas PD headquarters, marched to the Statler Hotel, and continued to the southern portion of Interstate 30. Black Lives Matter flags waved as protesters chanted, “If we don’t get it, burn it down.”

Some protestors chanted the name “Marvin Scott III,” the 26-year-old man who died recently in a Collin County jail after being arrested for marijuana possession. County Sheriff Jim Skinner terminated seven guards following Scott’s death, saying they had violated “well-established Sheriff’s Office policies and procedures.” Protestors also claimed the tragic death of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota—who local police say was shot accidentally as Wright resisted arrest—as another reason for their protest.

These protestors were recorded taking over a local restaurant. One chanted “Who burn[s] —- down?” as the rest responded with chants of “We burn —- down!” Texas Scorecard confirmed the location as the Jaxon Texas Kitchen & Beer Garden at 311 S. Akard St. in Dallas.

In another video recorded at the same location, protesters chanted “Silence is violence!” and “Why the —- are you quiet?” One of the protestors is even seen stepping onto a table and kicking a drink to the floor. Another video shows a man in military fatigues with radio gear, appearing to stand guard over the protestors. No image is shown of police at the restaurant.

The last video in a series of tweets shows the protestors outside the Statler Hotel, seven minutes away on foot. One protestor, wearing a shirt featuring the Next Generation Action Network logo, is seen holding a rifle.

Organization Behind Protest

Other protestors in the videos are seen wearing shirts with the same logo. NGAN is an organization founded and run by BLM activist Dominique Alexander, a “defund the police” advocate who has a history in Dallas city hall politics and helped campaign for Democrat Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot. Creuzot refused to prosecute Alexander’s activists who were arrested last summer for blocking the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.

Both NGAN and its partner, the Dallas Community Police Oversight Coalition, organized last summer’s protests-turned-riots in the city. Alexander praised Dallas Councilmember Adam Bazaldua’s successful effort to cut $7 million from police overtime later that year.

Alexander was also involved in the hiring process for former Police Chief Renee Hall. City Manager T.C. Broadnax—who reports to the city council and Mayor Eric Johnson—invited NGAN and DCPOC to participate in the interview process that resulted in the hiring of current police Chief Eddie Garcia.

Business Response

After last week’s protest, Texas Scorecard contacted Jaxon and spoke with a manager, whose name we have withheld for their protection. This manager said no one was hurt by the protests last Tuesday, and when asked if any of their patrons felt fear, the manager replied, “Honestly, I’d rather not comment on any of that.”

They were on our property, that was a fact, and that’s basically all we want to say about it.

When asked for their policy regarding customers who protest and brandish weapons on their property, the manager replied, “I’d rather not comment.”

The Statler did not reply to our press inquiry before publication time.

Local Government Response

Texas Scorecard also sent press inquiries to the entire Dallas City Council. None of the council members replied before publication time.

At a forum hosted by citizen organization Keep Dallas Safe last Thursday, Texas Scorecard asked Councilmember David Blewett—one of those who voted for the $7 million police overtime cut—if the Dallas police’s action, or inaction, that day reflected the policy set in place by the city council. “No,” he replied.

Mayor Johnson’s office was asked as well, and they advised us to contact the city manager’s office or the Dallas Police Department. We did, asking DPD if they had been previously notified these protests would take place, why these disturbances at Jaxon and the Statler were allowed, and about the department’s policy when it comes to Black Lives Matter protests and/or riots within the city.

“The Dallas Police Department respects the constitutional rights of all individuals, including the rights to peacefully assemble and to keep and bear arms,” Sergeant Tramese Jones replied. “Law enforcement recognizes the presence of firearms at First Amendment-protected activities may prove disconcerting. Chief Eddie Garcia and the department are committed to working with our city leaders, community stakeholders, and public safety partners to make Dallas the safest city in the world to live, work, visit, and play.”

Follow-up inquiries were sent, asking if any trespass warnings were issued, 911 calls received, and if Alexander was present. “No criminal trespass warnings were issued, and it is unknown if anyone complained via 911,” Jones replied. “It is unknown if Dominique Alexander was present.”

We were also told “it is being discussed” whether or not to rescind vacations, cancel scheduled leaves, and authorize overtime for officers for the next 10 days.

Dallas City Council & Local Officials’ Plan

With jurors preparing to render a decision in the trial of former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin—the officer caught on camera last year restraining George Floyd, who died later that day—Blewett was asked if he’d make a motion to change city policy to ensure law and order would be maintained in the city.

“That’s not a policy. … We set the ordinances and penalties, but that’s a general order,” he replied.

“City council does not order police specifically what to do to specific tasks,” he continued. “We’re a board of directors.” When asked, Blewett said he had spoken with Chief Garcia about the situation.

Blewett’s opponent this election, Elizabeth Viney, was asked what she thought council members should do.

“What I think city council should do and needs to be doing right now is letting the citizens and the small businesses down there know that we are going to prosecute crimes that are perpetrated against them,” she said. “Peaceful protests are okay, but trespassing and destruction of property and things of that sort are not. Theft is not.”

Texas Scorecard contacted DPD, Dallas County Marian Brown, and County DA Creuzot over the weekend, asking them if they can guarantee to citizens that law and order will be maintained following the Chauvin trial verdict.

“The Dallas Police Department is committed to providing a safe environment for individuals desiring to exercise their First Amendment right to peaceful assembly and freedom of speech,” Sergeant Warren Mitchell replied. When riots break out, Mitchell said the department “will take whatever actions deemed appropriate.”

Creuzot and Brown did not reply before publication. Last October, when asked about possible violence during the 2020 elections, Creuzot told Texas Scorecard, “I don’t assume that we’re going to have a breakout of violence. 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.”

Concerned citizens may contact District Attorney Creuzot, Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown, and their Dallas City Council member. Early voting for the May 1 local elections in North Texas runs April 19-27.