Dallas City Council Member Says Police Response to BLM Protests Was 'Embarrassment to Our City'

A member of the city council in Dallas, Texas, said Tuesday that the Dallas Police Department's response to Black Lives Matter protests earlier this year was an "embarrassment to our city."

Council Member Cara Mendelsohn is one of several members of the city council who voiced their concerns about a report the department published last week regarding its response to protests that occurred between May 29 and June 1, just days after the death of George Floyd inspired a wave of protests throughout the country and around the world.

"I'm very concerned with how this all happened, and what I've seen throughout this entire report is a lack of leadership," Mendelsohn said during a public review of the report on Tuesday. "This has been an embarrassment to our city."

Protest in Dallas, Texas
Demonstrators gather during a peaceful protest against police brutality and racism on June 6, 2020 in Dallas, Texas. Dallas City Council members on Tuesday criticized the Dallas Police Chief's report assessing her department's response to protests that occurred in the city between May 29 and June 1, just a few days after the death of George Floyd. Cooper Neill/Getty

Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall and other members of the police department addressed the city council's questions during a Public Safety Committee session, which lasted about three hours. Council members asked about inconsistencies within the report and assessments on officers' on-the-ground communications with protesters that Mendelsohn said did not compute with local media reports.

At one point during the review, Mendelsohn acknowledged the first responders for their attempts to manage the protests but added, "It's clear that without the direction, they can't perform properly. Had they received clear direction to help the protesters exercise their First Amendment rights and protest, then we would have had a very different outcome for our downtown area."

Six of the city council's 14 members said they no longer trust Hall's leadership after observing the department's protest response and reviewing its report, but one council member said she trusted Hall's decisions, according to The Dallas Morning News. The paper's review of the report said it revealed problems with communication and planning on how to respond to the protesters, as well as reversals on earlier statements that officers did not use tear gas during one confrontation that left officers trying to arrest more than 600 people.

"It is unacceptable the things that happened, and I am outraged by it," Council Member Omar Narvaez said. "Chief Hall, I have lost the trust."

At the conclusion of the meeting, Hall said some of the issues within the department predated her role as chief and asked for the council's support in moving forward. "The ability to change and make the necessary adjustment comes with a little bit of pain," she said. "In that space, we're just asking that the council will support us in our growth process."

Hall said that her entire department works together as a team. "When we support the police chief, we support the police department," she added.

The committee's meeting came in the midst of the council's deliberations on its new annual budget. Though the city council was initially slated to vote on a proposed budget in June, the council decided to postpone that vote until August in light of the recent protests and calls in Dallas and in other parts of the country to defund or limit police spending. The budget meetings are accessible to the public so residents can weigh in on the proposals and are expected to last through the end of this month.

In a statement shared with Newsweek, the Dallas Police Department said it respected the concerns that the council members addressed.

"We respect and value those opinions shared during yesterday's public safety meeting," the department said. "We will continue to reinspire police reform and evaluate our procedures."

Updated 8/19/20 (5:46 p.m. ET): This article has been updated to include a response from the Dallas Police Department.