Susan Luzzaro 9:45 p.m., June 18
Occupy San Diego Hungry for Justice
John Kenney hasn’t eaten for eight days, and he has no idea when he will eat again.
“We’re trying to get recognition of our proposal and our resolution,” says Kenney, one of a handful of Occupy San Diego protesters who have taken up a hunger strike in response to the city council’s general disregard for the movement which has occupied the Civic Center Plaza since early October and has resulted in 79 arrests, five of them this weekend.
“We want to end the police targeting of Occupy San Diego,” says Kenney. “We want recognition of our resolution which is broad and includes points on social equality, foreclosures, and homelessness. More concrete is the proposal which directly focuses on allowing us to have structures and tents. The police chief accepted 100 tents in the beginning and now the council won’t even look at the proposal.”
Kenney says that councilmembers David Alvarez and Tony Young have been somewhat sympathetic towards the protesters but both have failed to provide the first of five signatures needed to get Occupy San Diego’s proposal on the council agenda.
Following in the vein of proposals approved by the cities of Los Angeles and Irvine, Occupy San Diego’s proposal would allow protesters to set up structures such as tents and tables on the plaza.
Structures are currently banned under San Diego Municipal Code Section 54.0110 (Encroachment), which allows police to selectively cite persons placing any item on public property.
Bryan Pease, an attorney representing Occupy San Diego, called the enforcement of the code in this context an unconstitutional violation of first amendment free speech rights at a press conference last Tuesday.
At the conference, Pease announced his intention to file a request last Friday (the date has been tentatively changed to today) for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the City of San Diego and the San Diego Police Department for violating the first amendment rights of protestors.
“The proposal is very specific,” Kenney says. “We copied the Irvine letter of understanding and want to continue to accommodate the safety and sanitation concerns, but nobody will talk to us so that’s just sitting there. We originally asked for 300 tents. That was our first joust, but they haven’t jousted back. Instead of listening to us, they’re ramping up police brutality and spending more time and money. They’re treating us like 9-11 terrorists when all we want is social and economic liberty and justice.”