Regina Romero on Occupy Tucson: 'Calling for a Moratorium on Issuing Citations'

Earlier today, Tucson City Councilwoman Regina Romero sent this out to Ward 1 constituents and posted this on her Facebook page:

Dear Tucson Constituents and Friends,

My fellow colleagues and I have been receiving lots of input from the community regarding the Occupy Tucson protestors that have been camping in Downtown Tucson.

I have read the Occupy Tucson Declaration and support them in concept and action. This week I will propose that:

* Mayor and Council request a moratorium on ticketing protestors in Veinte de Agosto Park

* City of Tucson Parks and Recreation staff waive permitting fees and curfews for Occupy Tucson protestors at Veinte de Agosto Park.

* Occupy Tucson participants respect any and all traditional and permitted events that are taking place in City of Tucson parks.

* City staff explore investing certain public funds into local credit unions, and moving away from larger financial institutions where feasible.

I understand the frustrations of Occupy Wall Street protesters everywhere on a deeply personal level. The excesses of our financial institutions have been the driving force behind this economic recession, the worst our country has seen since the great depression. Many Americans are unemployed and underemployed, and scores of workers are finding themselves without healthcare coverage and the economic security enjoyed by generations past. Income inequality in our nation continues to grow, homes are being foreclosed upon in record numbers, and the opportunity for social mobility within our country has diminished. This squeeze on middle-class working families has led to wealth disparities unseen in decades, and the challenge is even more pronounced among communities of color, which have taken the hardest hit during the housing crisis.

I am calling for a moratorium on issuing citations because the ongoing and indefinite burden of TPD and City Court expenses on taxpayers to police this peaceful protest is not in the best interest of the City of Tucson. Since the genesis of this local movement, we have been spending thousands of dollars to cite and release Occupy Tucson protestors. Our TPD overtime expenses since the demonstration began have topped $83,000, and collective costs including regular time are nearing the $100,000 mark. This does not consider the court costs that taxpayers will come to bear in order to bring the 500 plus citations to trial in City courts, nor the potential booking expenses for physical arrests should the imposition of park curfews come to such extremes.

The steps I have described here allows the community an opportunity and a space to make their voices heard, and emphasizes what we can do to make substantive changes in our own backyard.