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City Leaders Support Right To Protest In Concourse

Protesters set up camp downtown in the Civic Theatre plaza as part of "Occupy San Diego" on Oct. 9, 2011.
Andy Trimlett
Protesters set up camp downtown in the Civic Theatre plaza as part of "Occupy San Diego" on Oct. 9, 2011.

A sampling of San Diego political leaders today found support for protesters camping out on city property at the downtown Community Concourse in the "Occupy San Diego'' movement.

Protesters representing various causes, but generally opposed to corporate greed, gathered at the plaza adjacent to the City Administration Building, Golden Hall and Civic Theatre on Friday and intend to stay for the long-term.

"I think expressing your First Amendment rights is a healthy thing,'' City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said before the start of the City Council meeting. "I don't have a problem with it.''


Enforcement issues are being handled by the San Diego Police Department, and it appears the officers have a good relationship with the loose-knit protesters, Goldsmith said.

A spokesman for Mayor Jerry Sanders said the police and fire departments were working with the protesters to keep the area safe and clean.

Detective Gary Hassen, of the San Diego Police Department, said there have been no arrests, nor were there any significant disturbances or significant incidents until mid-afternoon today, when a man plunged to his death from a nearby parking structure. It was not immediately clear if the victim was connected to the event.

City Councilman Todd Gloria said the concourse was often just "a large void,'' so he was happy to see people using it to make their points.

"I'm supporting largely what they're saying,'' Gloria said of the protesters. "It's representative of what I'm hearing when I'm out in the community.''


Councilman Carl DeMaio said his constituents are also concerned about "excesses in the corporate world'' and are frustrated by bailouts.

"I just think that most of us are frustrated with the behavior on Wall Street, but let's focus on solutions,'' DeMaio said.

The demonstration coincides with a production of the musical "Hair'' at the Civic Theatre, which runs through Oct. 23. The next major event at Golden Hall is the San Diego Family Expo on Oct. 22.

Gloria said hoped the protesters will "stay peaceful and be good neighbors'' to patrons at the events.