David Dodd 2:33 a.m., May 19
Occupy San Diego Fractures, Relocates, Searches For Common Voice
A deceptively amicable general assembly on Tuesday night preceded a stark division among the roughly 300 protesters who have been occupying the Civic Center concourse since Saturday.
The San Diego fire marshal capped the occupancy’s tent count at 100 yesterday and police prevented demonstrators from bringing in additional generators, bookshelves, tables, or any other furniture. Some were even turned away with sleeping bags. An impromptu group came to a consensus with the police to cooperate with the regulation around 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the 3rd and B entrance to the concourse.
Last night, differences in opinions on how to interact with the police came to a head after a dispute broke out over a lemonade stand manned by a 4-year-old.
The general assembly was dominated by debate over whether to comply with the growing $49,000+ police presence or resist.
“What we have is a bunch of outcast cliques right now” said a man interviewed on Occupy San Diego’s livestream Wednesday evening.
More than three hours of deliberation among the general assembly ended with no semblance of consensus on the issue. Around the same time, Seattle’s occupation was raided by police, resulting in 25 arrests.
Peaceful protesters at the Civic Center made signs reading “I [heart] SDPD,” which were rebutted with signs reading “smash the police state” and "police are not your friends" held by antagonists (primarily supposed-members of the International Socialist Organization and some factions of anarchists), who marched around the concourse and nearby streets.
About 20 peaceful protesters moved to Children’s Park last night.
“We weren’t feeling safe there anymore,” says Occupy San Diego media team member Anthony Muni. “There was a lot of police activity.”
The media team itself was split down the middle by the relocation.
“We’re going to need a mediator to come in to facilitate a discussion,” says Muni.
Muni estimates the number of relocating protesters had grown to about thirty by this morning, and says the group has return to the Civic Center to inform others of their intention to relocate to Balboa Park at Sixth and Elm.
Occupiers have been notified by police to evacuate the concourse before midnight tonight in order to make way for the permitted “World of Dance Tour” on Saturday. According to the police order, all abandoned property will be impounded and remaining occupiers will be subject to arrest. Assistant Police Chief Boyd Long has said that while personal property must be removed, bodies will be allowed to stay.
Occupy San Diego’s website calls the recent developments “expanding,” an optimistic tone affirmed somewhat by the occupation reportedly forming in Mira Mesa and the sidewalk occupation in front of the Bank of America in North Park, which, according to Facebook, had six confirmed attendees on Tuesday.
Despite the apparent discord, the movement has found enough common ground to build a bustling community, largely on donated supplies, from the ground up in six days. The part educational fair, part gypsy village includes two libraries, a stocked kitchen, an arts and entertainment tent, an independent media center, a movie theatre, and musicians abounding.
Now, Occupy San Diego faces the challenge of reestablishing itself with much lesser numbers in a new location permitted by police.
The need for a common ethos has never been more pronounced. Perhaps it was said best by this man, who felt alienated and disillusioned with the movement’s disparate intentions, and returned with a message of hope and a plea for humility from the fractured factions of Occupy San Diego's 99%.
This is what democracy looks like.