An anti-Israel rally — held on the grassy knoll in downtown Dallas one week after Hamas’ devastating surprise attack on Israel — that attracted many apologists for terrorism did not require a permit, according to a City spokesperson.
The City of Dallas responded to an inquiry by The Dallas Express regarding its role, if any, in the “All Out for Palestine” rally that was hosted by groups that have openly praised the attacks on Israel. DX initially made an Open Records Request (ORR) the day after the October 15 rally, asking for any information the City had about the organization of the event.
However, an automated message from the City stated it could not process this request due to a “cybersecurity incident,” as The Dallas Express reported. Upon further investigation by DX, the City later claimed that there was never a cybersecurity issue and the message had been erroneously left over from the ransomware attack against city servers in May.
The Dallas Express also contacted City Manager T.C. Broadnax, ORR Manager Jeri Carter, and Special Events Director Rosa Fleming, asking if, in light of the fact that this rally drew participants who praised Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel, they were willing to personally, or on behalf of the City, condemn Hamas’ terrorism against Israel.
All three officials failed to do so.
However, in an email on October 31, Catherine Cuellar, Dallas’ director of communications, said the City allowed the rally to proceed because it qualified as protected free speech. DX was thus told that there were no city documents to provide regarding the event.
“First Amendment activities are exempted under the special event ordinance (Chapter 42A) and, as such, do not require a permit from the Convention and Event Services – Office of Special Events,” Cuellar said, noting that CES thus defers such cases to the Dallas Police Department.
Director Cuellar also referred DX to a statement by the mayor’s office released on October 11 as evidence of the City’s solidarity with Israel in the face of the terrorist attacks.
The statement notes that the Dallas City Council voted unanimously to approve “a resolution to condemn the attack on Israel by Hamas.”
It also included Mayor Eric Johnson’s statement reading, “The City of Dallas strongly condemns this barbaric act of terrorism by Hamas, and we stand in solidarity with the people and State of Israel.”
“As a city that prioritizes our international partnerships and relationships, we hope this resolution will send a clear message to the international community as to our city’s values,” the mayor added.