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Police, Protesters Clash Over ‘Occupy San Diego’ Tent City

Yellow police tape surrounds tents at Occupy San Diego as protesters rally, o...

Credit: Occupy San Diego Facebook

Above: Yellow police tape surrounds tents at Occupy San Diego as protesters rally, on October 14, 2011.

We'll discuss the implications for the Occupy San Diego movement on Friday's show.

Evening Edition airs weekdays at 5 PM and 6:30 PM on KPBS TV.

Scuffles broke out today among police and protesters taking part in the week-old "Occupy San Diego'' protest at Civic Center Plaza, with officers arresting two members of the demonstration and pepper-spraying about a half-dozen others.

The disturbances at the previously peaceful rally against perceived societal, government and corporate misdeeds erupted in the late morning as authorities tried to get the crowd of several hundred to fully comply with an order to remove all camping equipment, tables, signs and other paraphernalia from the C Street concourse.

City officials issued the directive late Thursday afternoon, saying it was necessary to allow previously planned events to take place at the public space in front of Golden Hall. Many of the demonstrators complied over the next 15 hours or so, but some defiantly remained.

About 7 this morning, officers forcibly removed a protester, identified as 22-year-old Darinel Martinez, as he sat with dozens of others on the ground in front of several tents and other trappings, refusing to move. Martinez was booked on suspicion of resisting, delaying or obstructing a peace officer.

The next clash took place shortly before noon, as police moved in to take down one of two remaining tents. A group of agitators reacted by surrounded it and linking their arms together, and during an ensuing struggle at least one officer doused some of the resisters with pepper spray as others chanted "police brutality.''

A second activist, 39-year-old Paul A. McCullough, was arrested as the confrontation played out.

One of the protesters involved in the fracas, 23-year-old Alfonso Padilla of San Diego, said a woman who was splashed by the chemical irritant still couldn't see a half-hour later.

"They sprayed her directly in the face for about 10 seconds,'' Padilla said.

Jessica Karle, a 22-year-old New York native, described being roughed up during the confrontation, saying officers shoved her, grabbed her by the neck and kicked her feet out from under her.

Still, Karle was adamant about continuing to take part in Occupy San Diego.

"I will be here until they carry me out,'' she said. "We're going to stay positive. We're going to attend to people with medical care and provide food for whoever needs it.''

Assistant Police Chief Boyd Long said the pepper-spraying episode occurred when demonstrators began aggressively pushing officers. Long stressed that the protesters were welcome to remain at the civic plaza but were prohibited by municipal code from setting up camp there.

A dance group has a permitted event planned for this weekend in the concourse, and city officials expect a crowd of at least 2,000 to attend.

The ongoing local rally -- inspired by the month-old Occupy Wall Street demonstration in New York -- was staged "in protest of the global financial corruption currently invading politics, media and corporations, exemplified by the recent financial-industry meltdown and subsequent recession,'' according to the organizers' website.

Participants planned to peacefully occupy Civic Center Plaza indefinitely, or until they got desired action from "all levels of government, including the city and county of San Diego, the state of California, the federal government and ... private and public banks and corporations,'' the online statement of purpose asserted.

Similar shows of social dissent and civil disobedience have sprouted in cities across the country over the last several weeks, generating periodic disturbances and resulting in numerous arrests.

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