Walter Mencken 8:27 a.m., April 18
Occupy San Diego Heads to City Council
A group of Occupy San Diego activists and several supporters showed up at this morning’s city council meeting to address a range of concerns regarding the movement and its continued presence at Civic Center Plaza.
As usual, reactions to the police presence were mixed. Frequent speaker Hud Collins expressed his thanks to Chief Lansdowne and the department for their handling of the occupation that’s been relatively conflict-free as compared to in other cities such as New York and Boston. Mohammed Abdullah, who has gained some notoriety carrying his “Google: Israel did 9/11,” sign at many of the Occupy demonstrations, echoed the thanks before launching into an accusation that Bonnie Dumanis intends to jail the county’s entire minority population. When asked to get back on track by Council President Tony Young, Abdullah re-focused on a request that the council contact the White House and request that the federal government not support any attacks that Israel might launch against Iran.
Representatives of Activist San Diego were less pleased with police behavior, requesting that the council pass a resolution demanding an investigation of police actions within two weeks. Proposed investigation topics were how and why tents were removed from the Civic Center and also why pepper spraying of protesters occurred. The group also asked for a resolution similar to one passed by the Los Angeles City Council in support of the Occupy movement. Demonstrators there have been allowed to remain in possession of tents and other supplies near City Hall.
A group led by a man named Curtis spoke about the issue of homelessness and the need to provide better access to service to members of the homeless community both taking part in and not involved with Occupy.
“If we want less of a mess in San Diego, where are the trash cans? Why are there only two public restrooms?” He recommended re-allocating funds used on things like subsidizing the construction of luxury condominiums and a potential football stadium in favor of increasing access to basic services, or re-purposing some of the hotels and motels that have been foreclosed during the economic downturn into transitional living facilities.
P.J. Gorham, one of the occupiers, invited the council members to come out and interact with the protesters, and to respond in some way to their message.
“We’re living a fascinating experiment in democracy downstairs,” Gorham said.
He continued to thank the council for its tolerance of the continued protests. Young stepped in to say that beyond tolerance, the council was thankful for the group’s cooperation and participation. :We’re appreciative that you’re here today,” responded Young.
The final speaker asked for guidance from the council or police on a suitable location for a long-term protest. When the Occupy group originally faced eviction from the Civic Center, police recommended they relocate at the southwest corner of Balboa Park, near 6th and Elm. This location was inappropriate, the speaker argued, due to the high crime rate in the area and the lack of proximity to the Downtown business district, where marches and rallies have targeted banks and financial institutions they blame for the deterioration of the middle class.
The group quickly abandoned the Balboa Park location, and has been back at the Civic Center since Saturday. The speaker indicated that if a suitable replacement location, such as Children’s Park (where the occupation started for one night on October 7) were available, the group might be amenable to moving.
More like this:
- Lawsuit Filed Against City and Police on Behalf of Occupy San Diego as Hunger Strike Continues — Nov. 16, 2011
- Protesters, Labor, Critical Mass Converge to Occupy San Diego — Oct. 29, 2011
- Occupy San Diego Re-Occupies the Civic Center — Oct. 26, 2011
- Tents Back Up at Occupy San Diego — Oct. 26, 2011
- Occupy San Diego Remains at Civic Center, Modifies Consensus Process - At Least 26 Tijuana Occupiers Arrested — Oct. 18, 2011