Police Close Occupy Camp; City Leaders Uninvolved
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Aired 11/16/11 on KPBS News.
Police say crimes were happening and protesters had brought in more stuff since the first raid on Occupy encampment.
Occupy San Diego protestors held a march and rally this morning, following another predawn raid by San Diego Police.
The protestors marched from the Star of India to the Civic Center Plaza where they rallied.
San Diego police officers moved through the Occupy camp near the Civic Center around 2 this morning -- the second raid there in recent weeks. Police say the camp had become dirty and dangerous and that officers saw drugs and weapons.
Nine people were arrested and jailed. Asst. Chief David Ramirez said protestors have gradually brought back more stuff since the camp was first taken down.
"They've tried to take advantage of us and brought in equipment tables and those types of things," Ramirez said. "So we're going to do a better job of making sure that does not occur this time."
Police say they support people's right to protest in a peaceful and lawful way. But protestors today filed suit claiming the city is violating their civil rights.
Meanwhile, mayors across the country are discussing the Occupy protest movements via conference calls. But San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders chose not to take part today in conference call with other mayors discussing the protest movements.
Spokesman Darren Pudgil said there isn't much the mayor can do.
"We don't look to other cities as a model of how to handle this. Things have gotten out of control in other cities. Here, we think our police department has done a fabulous job," he said.
Pudgil said protestors are concerned with federal issues and should take them up with federal lawmakers.
San Diego's other elected officials have also largely stayed out of the Occupy protests here, preferring to simply listen when protestors come to them, as they did at recent City Council meetings.
But protestors point out local resources are being used to pay for what they call an excessive police presence. Michael Basillas, 26, was arrested in today's raid after being a part of the protest movement for five weeks. He said many protesters vow to keep up the fight.
"We have nothing else to lose," he said. "When you're placed in a society where everything is corporatized and everything is controlled by the 1 percent and everything is expensive and is not available anymore, people will get tired. And they're more than willing to fight for it."