By Bud Gillett & Jack Fink, CBS 11 News
November 4, 2011 9:53 AM
DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - A homeless family living at the ‘Occupy Dallas’ camp said that they will find a new place to stay in order to keep their baby. CBS 11 News was on the scene as officers with the Dallas Police Department and Child Protective Services took custody of the 9-month-old boy on Thursday afternoon.
Brian and Cathy Carpich said that they met with CPS and were told that the camp was, in their words, an unhealthy living environment. The couple cannot get their boy, Zachariah, back until their living situation improves.
There were plenty of tears coming from the family after they returned from a meeting with a woman who they called their CPS caseworker. “It’s not against the law,” pleaded Brian Carpich. “We’ve not broken any laws.”
The meeting started a few hours earlier, after police – who assisted CPS agents – took the small boy away from his parents. Police explained that they were acting on an “open child welfare case” dating back to September, but that a call from within the downtown Dallas camp prompted Thursday’s actions. “The complaint was a child in the encampment that was pretty much screaming and crying all night, and folks were concerned about it,” said Lt. Anthon Williams with the Dallas Police Department.
“My wife and baby get clothed every day,” Brian Carpich continued to argue.
Carpich acknowledged having a criminal history, but contended that his son had all of the essential diapers and necessities, and that their tent even received heat. Still, the parents unwillingly turned Zachariah over to authorities. After meeting with CPS, they returned to the camp without their son.
“We’re already in a program for housing,” explained Carpich. “They’ve basically screwed up, because the child was part of us getting housing, which we’ve been waiting for since March.”
The family’s problems have created another concern for the ‘Occupy Dallas’ organizers. CBS 11 News has learned that the campers are so unhappy with their current conditions that organizers are planning to temporarily move the protest in hopes that local homeless and squatters will leave the movement. “We’ve had a large amount of unsavory elements which have gotten plenty of media coverage,” said protest organizer Reagan Clark. “Just made people feel unsafe.”
Police had already arrested a man – a registered sex offender – who had been accused of sexually assaulting a minor.
Officers from the Dallas Police Department met with ‘Occupy Dallas’ campers Thursday night to help build cooperation and prevent further problems. Chaplins and social service workers also went tent-to-tent to ensure the safety of any children living in the camp.
Reagan explained that camp organizers are planning to select peacekeepers – who have passed background checks – to help secure the campsite. The ‘Occupy Dallas’ campers have already been living in downtown for nearly a month.