Seven Occupy protesters were indicted on felony charges by a grand jury in Houston on Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office says, in connection with their demonstration at the local port as part of a national day of action by the movement.
The decision comes nearly a week after a judge initially dismissed the charges, saying the protesters could not be charged with possessing or using a "criminal instrument" – a felony in Texas – for their use of PVC pipe.
The protesters -- three from Austin, four from Houston -- put their arms through the pipe and used latches on it to connect together, making their arrest more difficult but not preventing it, said one of their attorneys, Daphne Silverman, of the National Lawyer's Guild in Houston. Donna Hawkins, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office, confirmed the indictment.
The protesters intend to fight the felony charges, but face up to two years in jail if convicted at trial, should it come to that.
Civil rights lawyers claim that the Houston Police Department is using the felony charges as yet another form of crackdown on the occupy movement.
Felony charges have also been issued at Occupy Denver, when a holdout group of anti-Wall Street protesters set fire to their tent camp in downtown Denver during an overnight raid by police that dismantled the site. One protester faces felony arson charges as a result of that confrontation which occurred on Monday, Dec. 19th.