Sorry to disappoint you, Shaun McClusky, but there were no hippies stinking up Armory Park the first weekend of Occupy Tucson. Maybe once I smelled patchouli, but that could have been me.
Before I explain to you what took place the first few days at Occupy Tucson, I need to let everyone else know that today at 4:30 p.m. the Occupy Tucson folks had a rally and began a march from Armory Park to Tucson City Hall, 225 W Alameda. There's still time to join them. The council meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. and then there's the march back to Armory Park.
The goal is to ask the mayor and city council members to support them and stop the Tucson Police Department from issuing more criminal trespassing citations and allow Occupy Tucson to stay put without fear of being kicked out or continued arrests. The point they want to make is that so far it's been a peaceful protest of demonstrators exercising their First Amendment rights to get together and complain about their government. While I'm still scratching my head thinking the point should be more civil disobedience which comes with citations, I understand their concerns that if it keeps going like this that doesn't bode well for building momentum for the occupation and it will leave many people dealing with heavy fines.
Here's an observation of what I saw over the weekend: Signs were spelled correctly, these folks know how to interpret the Bill of Rights, and they don't chase anyone around that may not agree with them by shouting "ACORN, ACORN." That has to mean something.
By last night, TPD had issued more than 100 citations to demonstrators who stayed overnight or at the park past 10:30 p.m. when it closes. The citation can mean up to a $1,000 fine for each ticket, but let's say Occupy Tucson is able to keep up the momentum despite the citations — what fun for the Justice Court.
By the time Occupy Tucson demonstrators decided to go to tonight's meeting, it was too late to get on the city council agenda. But once demonstrators show up at city hall in a loud way, only a few representatives are expected to enter the council chambers and make a plea during call to audience.
Craig Barber, one of the original organizers of Occupy Tucson, told demonstrators during last night's general assembly meeting that according to city code the city manager has the legal authority to allow Occupy Tucson folks to stay at Armory Park or any other park without being issued a citation.
The code says: “Powers of the director. The control, supervision, and operations of all parks is vested in the director of parks and recreation. The director or his deputy may make such reasonable rules and regulations as are necessary to manage, control, supervise, operate, use, preserve and govern park property and activities, and may designate hours of operation and opening and closing times of the various parks which may be different as to individual parks.”
Barber also offered further clarification on the park alternatives the city of Tucson's Parks and Recreation Director Fred Gray told the Range about last week — non-park properties that could be made available for the occupation without worry of arrest. Not sure if you can call it an occupation at that point, but Barber explained that one of the lots at Sixth Street and Toole Avenue is a gravel lot without shade, grass, trash or bathrooms. Another lot offered was a paved lot, but again, no water, trash, shade or bathrooms.
“We reconned these lots,” Barber said. “It’s a joke.”
There's an alternative the city council may want to consider this council meeting or the next — why not do what the LA City Council did, tell police not to dish out citations or make arrests — plus they passed this nifty resolution that you can read here:
Saturday Night Movie and a Citation