Protest Supporters Want City Council Backing
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Supporters of the Occupy San Diego movement called today on the City Council to offer resolutions in support of the protesters and investigate last week's police action to remove their tents from the downtown Community Concourse.
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The tent city that had sprung up throughout the plaza area adjacent to City Hall was ordered by San Diego police last Thursday to be taken down to make room for a dance show at Golden Hall for which outdoor space had also been reserved.
Police said the protesters themselves would be allowed to remain and most cooperated and removed their belongings. But on Friday morning, pepper spray was used when officers moved in to take down the remaining tents, and two arrests were made.
"I find what happened here, right outside your doorstep, to be a despicable display of the destruction of the right of free speech," said Activist San Diego Director Martin Eder, who described himself as a sociology professor and social justice activist.
During the non-agenda public comment portion of the City Council meeting, Eder called for an investigation of how and why police took action.
Jeeni Criscenzo, president of Activist San Diego, requested that the council pass a resolution in support of the protesters, who she said are acting within their First Amendment rights.
"The City Council has an obligation to defend these rights before all other interests, including perceived economic consequences to local businesses," Criscenzo said.
She said such a resolution would let police know they aren't allowed to pepper spray the protesters, threaten them with arrest or harass them in any other way.
Ray Lutz, a former Democratic candidate for several offices, also called for the council to have an open discussion on a resolution that would allow the protesters to remain in the concourse with their tents.
"Many people support (Occupy San Diego) and we want to know who that is," Lutz said. "If you don't support it, and you're one of the 1 percent, we want to know who it is so we can take you out of office."
City Council members did not respond to the demands, per their rules.
Several other Occupy San Diego participants spoke on homelessness, the democratic process and education. It was their first significant turnout at a City Council meeting since the demonstrations began.
With the tents now gone, a couple of hundred protesters -- their numbers fluctuate throughout the day -- are staying in an area of the plaza between the Civic Theatre and Civic Center Plaza office building.
They also took part in a lunchtime rally in which they demanded a stop to legal action taken by the City Attorney's Office to shut down marijuana dispensaries.