|By Aaron Martinez, El Paso Times, Texas|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
"The Mayor (
The city called an "Emergency Special Meeting" after more than 20 protesters prevented construction workers from putting a fence around the center.
The meeting is schedule for
The protest started just after noon when the message of workers placing a fence around the center spread through social media, said
"We will not let them come here and destroy a historic and cultural landmark," Gonzales said. "We heard through social media that the workers were here to start the demolition of the center and we quickly organized and created a human chain in front of the fence to prevent them from placing it around the building."
The construction workers are from subcontractor JMR Demolition. They were at the center to place the fence as a safety precaution as they begin work to remove trash from the building and remove the roof due to asbestos issues, said
"They (protesters) prevented us from doing our job and so I can call the cops," Madrid said. "We were contracted for the job, we have every legal right to be and we are moving forward with our job."
TxDOT district engineer
"TxDOT has a contract with a construction company to remediate the asbestos in the building and eventual demolish it," Bielek said. "Part of that process is to put crowd control around the building, the fence, because you can have people around the building when you are remediating asbestos or other harmful material. This is just one part of the project."
Bielek said the work to remove the asbestos was going to take about 45 days. No work on demolishing the building would take place until after the asbestos was removed, he said.
More than 20 police officers responded to scene. The officers along with Rodriguez attempted to work out an agreement to avoid any arrest and come up with a solution both sides would agree on.
The protesters asked Madrid for a 24-hour period extension to work on getting a judge to order an injunction. They claimed that important historic items are still in the building and need to be removed.
"There are a lot of important items in there that are needed to be preserved and they are just going to throw them away," said
Rodriguez asked Madrid to allow the items to be examined and removed by some of the protesters with police assistance. But Madrid refused to allow anyone into the building due to safety reasons.
"When we were contracted we sign an agreement that made us responsible for the property," Madrid said. "We will not allow anyone in there for insurance purposes. If someone get hurt it is our responsible."
Most of the protester left the center after Rodriguez announced the special meeting being held by the city council. Some remained to make sure the construction workers did not complete the fence.
The agenda posted for the meeting states: "discussion and action authorizing the City Attorney to take any and all action necessary to stop the demolition of Lincoln Center including but not limited to the filing of actions in a court of law."
(c)2014 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas)
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