Friday, October 14, 2011
At a 4:15 p.m. press conference today, Chief Roberto Villaseñor and Tucson Parks and Recreation director Fred Grey explained how the city has communicated with members of Occupied Tucson and how TPD may or may not respond if demonstrators decide to stay at the park past its 10:30 p.m. closing time tomorrow.
We reported earlier most of what Gray explained at the conference regarding the permitting process. Gray also said at the press conference that other groups who have used the park in the past have filed for permits, including tea baggery events. Regarding a special permit that would allow the demonstrators to stay overnight, Gray said past groups have asked for those for overnight security or Boy Scout groups. In this case, Occupied Tucson is not asking, requesting or filing for any permits, special and otherwise. And the city of Tucson isn't granting any either.
There isn't any group who has reserved Armory Park for this weekend, where Occupy Tucson takes place, beginning tomorrow at 9 a.m. Gray also said that if there is food served on the premises or sold by vendors this weekend they could be in violation of health codes, especially if they haven't filed a permit to sell food or provide prepared foods to the public. So, I suspect a health department agent will be there checking things out — you never know.
Villaseñor said those at the park can expect a police presence all day, although officers will keep a low profile — bike cops, foot patrol and some patrol cars. He's scheduled extra police, and understands that events going on in town, such as Tucson Meet Yourself and Pride have hired off-duty officers for security. In other words — there are enough cops to go around.
The plan is that officers at the park during the day will be in touch with demonstrators letting them know that the park closes at 10:30 p.m. and that anyone still there will be in violation of city codes. However, Villaseñor wasn't completely clear about what will happen to those people who remain. He said it depends on the number of people there and their attitude.
He suggests that people not antagonize officers who are there and that if an officer asks someone to comply that they — comply. Arrest isn't the only option, either. Villaseñor said some people may receive citations - but again, it depends on what takes place at the park.
"We do not want to be the issue that causes the confrontation," Villaseñor said.
If the crowd is large and other factors, Villaseñor said the TPD may hold back. "We don't want it to become a violent incident."
While Occupy Tucson still needs to decide which park it will go to next at the end of Tucson Meet Yourself, if folks stay at Armory Park it could be a problem for two events that have reserved Armory in November, including the All Souls' Procession of Little Angels, the children's/family festival held the day before All Souls Procession.
The Procession of Little Angels is scheduled to be at Armory Park on Saturday, Nov. 5 — and they have a reservation.
Some Occupy events have included marches. The Range asked Villaseñor how TPD could react then and if there are guidelines he hopes demonstrators adhere to. Villaseñor said he hopes if marches occur, that Occupy Tucson organizers give TPD notice and adopt a plan accordingly.
Gray did add that when he met with Occupy Tucson folks other property, such as a Department of Transportation lot, could be made available, but the reps were not interested in those alternatives.