Lawyer Questions Police Response to Lubbock Protest, Chief Defends Department

LUBBOCK, TX - A lawyer for the woman arrested at an immigration protest on Tuesday said police mishandled the demonstration.

Charles Dunn is one of the attorneys representing Deema Alhesan, 20, after her arrest for what police called "obstructing a highway."

"I saw one video of a police officer telling the crowd 'You have to disperse this is an illegal gathering because you are in the street,'" Dunn said, adding that nearly all of the protesters abided by the law.

"The first amendment prohibits the police officers from just shutting down a demonstration," Dunn explained. "If somebody gets out of line and goes into the street. They can arrest that person and make an example. That's what they do, but they don't get on the bullhorn and say this is an illegal assembly because on person stepped out on the street."

Police Chief Greg Stevens stood by the officers' call to disperse the protesters, and arrest Alhesan.

"It was a good decision and I applaud the decisions of the commanders on scene," Stevens said. "We went in very calmly, the individual was given a number of warnings, and asked to please step back onto the curb and [away from] traffic, and almost immediately after the officers left the area again, she went right back out into the main lane of traffic, cars had to swerve around her, it one point she even had to evasively get out of a vehicle's way."

"I want to make very clear that had she been run over I think people would be upset with us for not doing something," Stevens stated.

"I'm sorry Police Chief Stevens, you need to step up your game because this is going to be happening for the next four years," Dunn said.

"Anytime you have a large crowd like that people will get out of line," Dunn acknowledged. "But, it was a peaceful protest. By getting out of line, they set foot in the city right of way. That was the crime committed here. Nobody burned cars, broke glass, attacked police officers and yet you have a riot line and police in riot helmets in Lubbock, Texas."

"I applaud their efforts in trying to work with us." Stevens said. "It's unfortunate that one person couldn't have held it together to have a great peaceful event that people could express their first amendment rights in if she would have cooperated and stayed out of the lane of traffic I think we would have had a very different ending."

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