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More Police Raids, But Civic Center Remains Occupied

After once again being forcibly removed from the Civic Center Plaza by police and sheriff’s officers clad in riot gear, Occupy San Diego has returned.

Last night at around 2 a.m., reports began circulating that another raid of the group’s overnight camp was under way. After twice being removed from the plaza in the past month, police have prevented the group from entering the area with personal property, erecting barricades along the east entrance fronting Third Avenue. They have, however, allowed the group to sleep on a small patch of grass outside the plaza entrance. This permission, according to Eugene Davidovich, a member of Occupy and medical marijuana activist with Americans for Safe Access, was directly granted by Sgt. Mark Jones.

A report by Frank Gormlie of the OB Rag states as many as 100 officers, under the direction of police chief William Lansdowne, struck the camp without warning and ousted up to four dozen sleeping protesters. Five arrests were reported, and personal property including bedding, tents, and donated food was confiscated.

“They’re spending thousands and thousands of dollars of our money arresting us,” Gormlie said later to a group of about 75 Occupiers after a march to re-occupy the plaza, critical of the costs police have elected to incur in enforcement on what, by most accounts, has been a demonstration relatively devoid of violence. “How much money is the city spending — no, how much money is the city wasting, money that the city doesn’t have?”

Sgt. Tony Lessa explained the reason for the forced removal of occupiers was their unsanitary condition, saying the protesters were living among urine, feces, fleas, and rats. He also said hypodermic needles had been found in the camp, which, along with the nearby sidewalk, was covered with police tape and guarded by several officers by the time the Occupiers returned.

Meanwhile, across the plaza, a monthly naturalization ceremony for new U.S. citizens was letting out. Several wandered over to listen to the open mic speeches being delivered by bullhorn. Two tents and tables were set up, one pushing new citizens to register to vote as Democrats, the other as Republicans. Occupiers questioned whether the political party representatives had obtained permits for placing their tents in the plaza, as a lack of permitting was a cited reason for disallowing the personal property of Occupy.

A representative of the Republicans answered in the negative. “This has been going on for 18 years,” he said in confirming the group had never requested permission from the city to set up at the naturalization ceremonies.

“They just basically make us stay out of the corridor,” said Willie H. Douglas, working the Democrats’ booth and also confirming his group had not applied for a permit. He went on to expand that he believed First Amendment rights to free speech allowed for political activity in the square, though he did draw a difference between setting up for a few hours and occupying indefinitely.

Occupy San Diego is planning a press conference this afternoon at 5:00 to discuss the latest police attempt to disband the group and its legal challenge of municipal code section 54.0110, which reads “Unauthorized Enchroachments Prohibited — It is unlawful for any person to erect, place, allow to remain, construct, establish, plant, or maintain any vegetation or object on any public street, alley, sidewalk, highway, or other public property or public right-of-way, except as otherwise provided by this Code.” The group contends the law was originally crafted to address the placement of dumpsters in alleyways but is being interpreted in a fashion not keeping with the spirit of the law in order to create difficulties for protesters.

Police taped off the area where they had previously allowed protesters to sleep:

Image

Occupiers march back into Civic Center Plaza around 10:30 a.m. after late-night raid:

Image

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A Fairbanks Ranch estate perched above San Dieguto River Valley

A city estate with a little bit of country

After once again being forcibly removed from the Civic Center Plaza by police and sheriff’s officers clad in riot gear, Occupy San Diego has returned.

Last night at around 2 a.m., reports began circulating that another raid of the group’s overnight camp was under way. After twice being removed from the plaza in the past month, police have prevented the group from entering the area with personal property, erecting barricades along the east entrance fronting Third Avenue. They have, however, allowed the group to sleep on a small patch of grass outside the plaza entrance. This permission, according to Eugene Davidovich, a member of Occupy and medical marijuana activist with Americans for Safe Access, was directly granted by Sgt. Mark Jones.

A report by Frank Gormlie of the OB Rag states as many as 100 officers, under the direction of police chief William Lansdowne, struck the camp without warning and ousted up to four dozen sleeping protesters. Five arrests were reported, and personal property including bedding, tents, and donated food was confiscated.

“They’re spending thousands and thousands of dollars of our money arresting us,” Gormlie said later to a group of about 75 Occupiers after a march to re-occupy the plaza, critical of the costs police have elected to incur in enforcement on what, by most accounts, has been a demonstration relatively devoid of violence. “How much money is the city spending — no, how much money is the city wasting, money that the city doesn’t have?”

Sgt. Tony Lessa explained the reason for the forced removal of occupiers was their unsanitary condition, saying the protesters were living among urine, feces, fleas, and rats. He also said hypodermic needles had been found in the camp, which, along with the nearby sidewalk, was covered with police tape and guarded by several officers by the time the Occupiers returned.

Meanwhile, across the plaza, a monthly naturalization ceremony for new U.S. citizens was letting out. Several wandered over to listen to the open mic speeches being delivered by bullhorn. Two tents and tables were set up, one pushing new citizens to register to vote as Democrats, the other as Republicans. Occupiers questioned whether the political party representatives had obtained permits for placing their tents in the plaza, as a lack of permitting was a cited reason for disallowing the personal property of Occupy.

A representative of the Republicans answered in the negative. “This has been going on for 18 years,” he said in confirming the group had never requested permission from the city to set up at the naturalization ceremonies.

“They just basically make us stay out of the corridor,” said Willie H. Douglas, working the Democrats’ booth and also confirming his group had not applied for a permit. He went on to expand that he believed First Amendment rights to free speech allowed for political activity in the square, though he did draw a difference between setting up for a few hours and occupying indefinitely.

Occupy San Diego is planning a press conference this afternoon at 5:00 to discuss the latest police attempt to disband the group and its legal challenge of municipal code section 54.0110, which reads “Unauthorized Enchroachments Prohibited — It is unlawful for any person to erect, place, allow to remain, construct, establish, plant, or maintain any vegetation or object on any public street, alley, sidewalk, highway, or other public property or public right-of-way, except as otherwise provided by this Code.” The group contends the law was originally crafted to address the placement of dumpsters in alleyways but is being interpreted in a fashion not keeping with the spirit of the law in order to create difficulties for protesters.

Police taped off the area where they had previously allowed protesters to sleep:

Image

Occupiers march back into Civic Center Plaza around 10:30 a.m. after late-night raid:

Image

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Comments
9

Tony B.: So my tax money is going to baby sitting.

Nov. 17, 2011

Harpo D.: I feel for the small businesses around the square that have had difficulties because of this... not exactly hurting the rich are they?

Although I agree with the basic idea of protesting these economic inequalities, most don't think camping out is the best approach.

Nov. 17, 2011

Douglas H.: What small businesses? And what difficulties have they had?

Nov. 17, 2011

Dan A.: Sadly, 'Occupy' has become a magnet for people who want to relive the 60's. It's a 'retro hippie' down with the Establishment movement now. As the voting public gets tired of this, they will vote against politicians who support the movement, mainly Democrats. The ultimate irony is that Occupy may actually help get Obama defeated, which I'm sure is not their goal.

Nov. 17, 2011

Harpo: Dan, so tru, what we need is all those kids to VOTE.. which sadly they seem to think is useless.. so the repubs win.

Nov. 17, 2011

George W.: I find it interesting that they have no consideration for the small business they hurt, their only interest is what they can get from others, without doing anything for it.

Nov. 17, 2011

Harpo: thank you, George.. there have been several articles on this, but not enough. I don't disagree with their basic idea, just the approach concerns me.. we need to engage the middle class!!

Nov. 17, 2011

Indeed we do. They are not engaged, and they are not particularly fond of the Occupy climate downtown. I spoke with a lot of people from the Mission Bay neighborhood last Thursday when we occupied the Clairemont Dr. bridge for a couple of hours.

There were many retired folk who turned out to this event at Mission Bay because the milieu downtown is difficult, marginally hostile, and inconvenient. The idea behind Occupy Mission Bay really wasn't to establish another soup kitchen/tent city. It was to provide an outreach to the neighborhood; to the families and elder folks who don't wish to trek downtown.

And the downtown people don't like it. They have this warped perspective that is disturbing.

Somehow, OMB is going to "detract from the movement" by attracting people who wouldn't go downtown to begin with. Logic fail.

Somehow, the people downtown think we're being "exclusionary" by not coming downtown to hang with the homeless. By not coming downtown we're "avoiding" the homeless.

Really, OSD? There are at least 1200 homeless people living in Mission Valley. We share our neighborhoods with them. We don't need to come downtown to see your homeless, OSD. Got our own, thanks.

Long story short, if you don't agree with every point the comrades in charge push, you're not part of the movement. Only they call it a revolution, being entirely unfamiliar with the difference.

Here's a response from one of the OSD people about OMB: "Carmen: your sense of social justice is seriously askew, and smacks of defending a lost 'white privilege' rather than struggling for justice for all."

Okay, Mission Bay is mostly white and Latino, but that's beside the point.

I thought we were fighting for reform, repealing bad law and forcing governmental change in fundamental ways to cut big money interests out of politics.

What the hell does "white privilege" and "justice for all" have to do with it? If we don't change the big things first, all this becomes pantomime, a bunch of social activists pretending to rebel whilst alienating all the people who's peripheral involvement and contributions would be valuable to the cause as a whole.

So I'm waiting for Occupy 2.0. The one without all the humorless comrades and holier than thou activists that we are going to sneak out a side door to avoid, then reform in the parking lot where we can eat bacon and talk smack.

Nov. 20, 2011

Jodi C.: For the record, the only small businesses affected have been the coffee cart owner and the hot dog vendor. (Downtown Johnny Brown's has been doing just fine, and, apparently has had an increase in business, thanks to the Occupiers.) The cof...fee cart owner struck a deal with the city to forego her rent (and I think get money on top), and the hot dog owner may have struck a similar deal with his landlord, Civic Center. Also, it appears that any harassment of the vendors has been by homeless people, not necessarily Occupy people. Also, Occupy SD folks turned out en masse for the fundraiser for the coffee cart owner and hot dog vendor, donating cash to help them out. Just saying.

Nov. 17, 2011

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