Occupy Houston protesters were frustrated today by the ever-widening definition of a “tent” as articulated by City Hall and HPD. At approximately 3:00 PM, the occupation site at Tranquility Park was approached by several uniformed officers from the police and fire departments, including a police captain and Fire Chief Galvan. Protesters were instructed to remove tarps placed over tables which were being used to protect food, electronic equipment and medical supplies both on top of and underneath the tables from today’s showers. The practice has been permissible throughout the duration of the occupation, which has now exceeded a month, and today the tarps were suddenly deemed “tents” and therefore in violation of the current policy. The protesters refused to remove the tarps, forming a line and chanting, while police forcibly removed all tarps covering the tables. One occupy participant was arrested in the process and remains in custody.
The action occurred only a few moments after today’s City Council meeting, where several occupy participants commended City Council and HPD for their respectful and cooperative disposition during the past several weeks before requesting action on the increasingly contentious issue of the use of tarps, tents and canopies in the park. It is exactly one week since 6 other protesters were arrested over a tarp being used to protect similar equipment, and three weeks since the last appearance of the protesters at a City Council meeting, where they requested permission for the use of tarps, tents and canopies. Also addressed during the incident were some concerns of the fire department over the use of extension cords, with which the protesters respectfully complied.