Under Police Pressure Occupy San Diego Expands to Children’s Park

by on October 22, 2011 · 25 comments

in Civil Rights, Economy, Organizing, Popular, San Diego

Banner and signs return to Children's Park as solidarity station is created for main occupation at Civic Center Plaza. (Most photos by Frank Gormlie.)

Occupy San Diego – our city’s own version of Occupy Wall Street – has expanded. Due to pressure being placed on the Occupy San Diego demonstrators by the police – a pressure which has prevented the protests’ ability to set up its support network, a solidarity station has been opened at Children’s Park in downtown located at Island and First.  The solidarity site will work to support the main occupation site, the Civic Center Plaza, where occupiers are now in their 15th day.

By late morning yesterday, October 21st, OccupySD activists had unloaded several vehicles worth of food and gear, and had begun to set up support stations that make up the occupy infrastructure.  And by mid-afternoon, they had completed the set-up and establishment of the stations that support the movement. So, for the first time since last week, the Occupy San Diego efforts had the full panoply of its sustainability network: the food-line and kitchen, the medical station, sanitation, the library, arts and crafts, and some media.

There had been some tension with police all during the day and even last night, as occupiers feared that police would arrive in mass and force the dismantling – once again – of all their gear.  Nearly two dozen people had said that they would be willing to be arrested for non-violently resisting such police tactics.  But as of this morning – Saturday, Oct. 22nd – no police force had arrived and no arrests had marred the beautiful day.  Activists estimated that the gear and food – most of it donated by San Diegans – had a monetary value of close to $4400.  And this is partially why they had concerns for its placement and location.

After accommodating occupiers for nearly a week, San Diego Police had changed their tune and on Thursday, October 13th, had ordered all Occupy tents and stations removed from the Civic Center Plaza by that Friday morning. The police since then have allowed only sleeping bags at the Plaza.

Over the course of the last week and half, police have prohibited activists from unloading gear and food at Tuna Park by the Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum, have blocked them from setting up near the World Beat Center in Balboa Park, and have thwarted additional efforts by protesters in other sections of Balboa Park.   Many of the original organizers felt that they had been very accommodating to police demands but were now no longer willing to move their donated food and other gear again when ordered to do so by police yesterday morning.

Several activists had been working with the Mayor’s office to find a location such as Children’s Park for the food and other supplies.  Children’s Park had been the site of an “occupation” before on Friday, Oct. 7th, when protesters set up a 65-tent temporary encampment for that evening.  And there had been no problems with the police then.  Occupiers thought that since they had already been allowed an overnight camp before, a precedent had been established – and now they would be able to follow-through and set up their support stations at the Park.  Earlier in the first days of its planning, the Park had been the setting for the Occupy San Diego nightly sessions held since late September.  These planning sessions led up to the actual protest and occupation.

Strong Contrast with Occupy Los Angeles

All of these maneuverings and seemingly “cat and mouse” games being played by occupiers and police here in San Diego stand in strong contrast with how the city government in Los Angeles was relating to their occupiers.  Our northern neighbor’s City Council passed a resolution in support of Occupy LA, the mayor came down and greeted the protesters, and handed out ponchos when it rained, plus the police have worked out an arrangement that allows tents and up to 700 people to sleep on the grounds of City Hall.  Here is the support part of the resolution:

“… the City of Los Angeles hereby stands in SUPPORT for the continuation ofthe peaceful and vibrant exercise in First Amendment Rights carried out by “Occupy Los Angeles” …

Here in San Diego, there has been no such resolution, the Council members have washed their hands of any initiative towards the demonstrators, Mayor Sanders’ silence has been deafening, and the police – although very accommodating – have been applying the pressure that has caused the occupiers to take on an even more defiant stance.  Yet to be fair – relations between the protesters and individual officers have been very cordial – except for the incidents of last week – and there have been solid communications with higher-ups.

More focused on ironing out consensus and decision-making problems and day-to-day issues, the occupiers have failed to put together a formal negotiating team to meet with the mayor to work out arrangements.  And the Mayor, more focused on being a conservative Republican, has failed to reach out to the demonstrators – who are literally yards away from his office.

Several activists and supporters did address the City Council the other day to both complain of police tactics against the protesters and to persuade the body to take some kind of favorable action towards the occupiers.

Focus on Banks

People occupying the Plaza have taken to marches to and sit-in’s in front of local branch offices of the major banks – several situated within blocks of the occupied Plaza.  On Thursday, about 3 dozen protesters – many from City College – sat down in front of the B Street branch of Bank of America. Several police officers were positioned nearby as protesters chanted, recited poetry, and took turns with recitals about how banks had helped create the financial mess.  Even though demonstrators did not block patrons from entering, nor did they enter the bank, the branch closed early.  The protest broke up around 6 pm without incident.

Protesters at front of Bank of America. (Photo by Rick G.)

The next day, Friday the 21st, a similar protest was held in front of Chase bank. That branch too, reportedly closed early.  A Bank Committee has been formed within the Occupy zone and marches on banks are being planned daily.

Support for Occupy San Diego Grows – at Colleges, in Donations, and in “Spin-Offs”

As the Occupy San Diego effort moves into its third week, having spent 14 days and nights at the Civic Center Plaza, support for the movement grows.  In today’s San Diego U-T (Sat, Oct. 22), for instance, the paper announced the results of their last poll. Readers were asked:

Do you support the Occupy movement’s methods for drawing attention to its issues?

53% said Yes, and 47% said No.  There were 4841 total responses.

Coincidentally, the musical “Hair” is currently playing at the Plaza’s theater. During intermission at each evening’s performance, as the quad fills up with patrons, occupy protesters take time out from their General Assembly, put on the songs from the musical on the loud speaker, and sing to the mainly older, white, middle class crowd – which appears to enjoy the attention. Many approach the occupy zone – roped off from the rest of the Plaza on performance nights – and read the numerous protest signs lined up on the cement.

In addition, there have been a number of rallies at local colleges in support of Occupy San Diego – most occurred on Thursday, the 20th. 150 rallied at City College, and most marched down to the Plaza to join the demonstrators there.  Other rallies were held at UCSD where about 100 gathered, and a rally was also held at Cal State San Marcos with about the same number.  At Mesa College, one class reportedly got out early and staged a small protest in support.

Donations continue to flow to the occupiers on a nearly daily basis. Much of the donations are in the form of already cooked food like pizza and sandwiches, but also medical supplies and cash.  The American Federation of Teachers that represent professors and other employees at City and Grossmont colleges have to date donated over $800.

Children's Park at night.

There have also been a few spin-offs from the main Occupy San Diego.  There have been “Occupy” events in Encinitas, Mira Mesa, in the College area, and a number of other locations. These events – though not true “occupations” – help in getting the word out to people in the County’s disparate neighborhoods.

The Homeless and Occupy San Diego

There is an unmentioned phenomenon occurring between Occupy San Diego and the downtown homeless.  Many homeless have joined the encampment at the Plaza, finding safety in numbers and free food.

And while the homeless have found a much needed and valuable ally in the occupation protest, their numbers have added weight to the entire encampment.  If one travels around downtown San Diego at night, it’s very easy to see the huge numbers of homeless people sleeping in doorways, on grassy areas and around City Hall itself.  The Occupy protest has brought them something immediate – some security and some food.  Several have been involved in the protest and its planning and attend the GA’s. Many don’t, however, and activists continually reach out to them in hopes that they will be more full partners at the Plaza.

Internal Changes

The Occupy San Diego activists hold nightly General Assemblies – run on 100% consensus.  At a recent GA, the process was changed slightly to allow for a 90% consensus after up to three days had passed to work out differences and find compromises on issues with no full consensus.

Many had found the nightly sessions to be overly frustrating and tireless exercises in what amounted to “rule by a minority” due to the manner that consensus works.  But others view the consensus process as the kernel around which to build and create a new society and new ways to make decisions, and these folks had worked tirelessly over the last couple of weeks in efforts to persuade new people of the value of consensus.

As Occupy San Diego continues and even expands, no one can predict or accurately speculate on its future.  Its future is clearly tied to the Occupy Wall Street movement that is still growing around the country and around the world.  It’s a wind storm that is spreading hope and inspiration while at the same time re-focusing  our national and international debate about the role of banks and corporations in our society – a truly revolutionary fete if it is successful.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Condos Downtown San Diego October 22, 2011 at 4:59 pm

I understand why protestors are there, and in many ways I support what they’re doing, but I have to say they’re not making life/business in downtown any easier. I can’t offer another solution because it seems they’re getting the attention they’re seeking, but I wish it could be done in a way that doesn’t disturb the businesses and people who are in these areas.

See this CNN video for the perspective of a local business owner:
http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-687207?ref=feeds%2Foncnn

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avatar Frank Gormlie October 23, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Au contrare, monseiur; after days of virtually no local media coverage – except for the alternative media – there was some coverage the day after that guy took a dive off the parking structure, and then there was more coverage by the TV stations as the police moved in, striking the tents, arresting a couple, and pepper-spraying and “man-handling” numerous peaceful demonstrators. Only when there’s some “conflict” does the corporate media take notice.

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avatar dave rice October 23, 2011 at 2:49 pm

I’d argue that the point of Occupy in its ongoing first stage isn’t to make life easier. People are already complacent, and the objective of the protests isn’t to make it more comfortable to continue the status quo, but to force people to acknowledge that there is strife in our society, and that there has been a class war ongoing for years – only that it’s been waged by the upper class against the middle and lower classes without any opposition until now.

If the point is to make a point without anyone noticing, what’s the point in that?

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avatar Michael Rohde October 22, 2011 at 6:45 pm

I wouldn’t expect any help from the powers that be in downtown. Those are true blue Republicans for the most part and they don’t support the movement at all. Their silence speaks volumes. Expect them to focus on a negative act by an alleged protester to call for the police to remove them altogether. Don’t be fooled, this is an attack on the commercial structure that has hijacked our national government via K st lobbyists. Money has taken control of the halls of Congress, and the Republican party is the biggest recipient and they execute their masters wishes. They declared war on anyone that can’t pay the entrance fee to their club. It’s a six figure fee to get in.

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avatar Frank Gormlie October 23, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Right on! bump ^

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avatar dave rice October 23, 2011 at 3:00 pm

I’ll second that “Right on!” with a clarification that while the Republicans may at this point lead the money chase overall, Obama was the biggest cash cow in the last election (even though a good chunk of his funds came from small-scale donations). Money has entirely hijacked the political system, and to say one of the two ruling parties is better than another is to say “care-uh-mell” is somehow different than “car-uh-mell” or “toe-may-toe” superior to “toe-mah-toe.”

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avatar unWASHEdwalmaRtthONG October 22, 2011 at 6:54 pm

If protests do not disturb SOMETHING, then they are not effective. People have to think about why these people are congregating all over the world. If nothing is disturbed, then nothing will change, & we seek changes to the status quo. The govorporation is holding the best hand at the card table: they have all the aces & face cards, & they have even more aces up their sleeves. They lie, cheat & steal, & we pay for it. I would rather not have to work all these hours to support their wars, their junkets, their profits. I prefer children to become educated in America as opposed to being killed in foreign nations by the govorporation’s boots on the ground.
Gosh, try not to be inconvienced; think about it, then join or get off the path.
Anyone up for riding w/ Critical Mass on Friday the 28th?

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avatar jim grant October 22, 2011 at 7:50 pm

the only way to REALLY get attention on a subject is to burn some $hit down…..sad but true…the occupy movement is petering out…several days in a row with no coverage in the media…..not good ….

mainstream media.

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avatar unWASHEwalmartTHONG October 23, 2011 at 5:32 am

Combine the calmness of OSD w/ the unruliness of Critical Mass next Friday the 28, add a dash of Hallowe’en, & you may have something interesting.

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avatar Frank Gormlie October 23, 2011 at 12:11 pm

I like it – but you need to come to the GA at 7pm each night and propose it. Or you could just get a bunch of friends and just do it!

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avatar doug porter October 22, 2011 at 6:55 pm

and then, of course, there’s Bill Maher’s perspective… he’s really pissed cause he went down to OccupyDC and nobody offered him a joint….

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avatar doug porter October 22, 2011 at 6:55 pm

oops forgot the link http://goo.gl/vKFyL

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avatar Frank Gormlie October 23, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Bill Maher’s a funny and honest guy. He’s not really pissed off at all – he’s very supportive (Doug knew that, he was just trying to get you to go to the link – which you should) of Occupy Wall Street. He says the Occupy movement is not the counter-culture that the right wing thinks it is, it is the culture. It’s everybody – except that tiny fraction that has been benefiting from the economic mess.

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avatar dave rice October 23, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Awesome…been following Maher’s rise for a long time and I think it’s about time to anoint him as on a level of kick-ass comparable to Jon Stewart. Cool video, but Christina says still not as cool as Stewart v. Crossfire… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFQFB5YpDZE

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avatar Lisa Joy October 22, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Great article Frank, brought me up to date after being out of town a few days.
Occupy San Francisco was looking strong! Are they being supported by the city?

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avatar Steve Ruiz October 22, 2011 at 10:37 pm

I don’t get it. Without capitalism there would be no tools we have now to broadcast our concerns, please give me another country better than the one we are lucky to live in , there are no borders to leave ,,,,,,,, we all create our own borders , there’s no fence keeping us in,,,,,,you can protest, hate , love grow up read, formulate ideas so many free choices! I don’t get it.

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avatar Frank Gormlie October 23, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Steve, not clear just what country you are living in. No one in your family or circle is facing their home being foreclosed, or is running out of unemployment benefits, or is sick and ill but doesn’t have medical coverage? The system that you are pumping up is broken and the youth in the streets are telling us that: the emperor has no clothes!

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avatar Steve Ruiz October 23, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Frank , your quote:
The system that you are pumping up is broken and the youth in the streets are telling us that: The system is playing out with intelligent selection and emotion Frank. At the moment alot of emotion ,,,,,,,being able to talk with you is awesome and disagree
Perfect will never be but compare your choices without emotion, and where you live today is a gift . Freedom man, c’mon what can we all do to make this better For all future generations , camp out , occupy ? How about specific issues , give me a better government than what gives you the freedom and rights you have today, please so we have template to follow, I want a better life just like you .
Give me some specific issues with a solution , and brother I’m on board! Thanks for the reply

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avatar dave rice October 23, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Countries with a better quality of life? Check the googles, there are plenty.

There are no borders to leave? I beg to differ – there is most decidedly, and this is undeniable fact, a border that I’d have to cross were I to leave the US. And last I checked, there certainly is a fence on the border with the US and Mexico, one we’re seeking to expand. Whether it keeps us in or others out is debatable, but I don’t think you can tell me there’s no fence.

And yes, we can do all of the things you’ve mentioned. We do them because we believe we’ve got the greatest country in the world, or at least the country with the greatest prospects in the world. We strive to make it better, to “be all that we can be,” so to speak. Anyone who’s not willing to put forth an effort to improve their country (or their planet, for that matter) constitutes the population I’d prefer would leave.

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avatar Steve Ruiz October 23, 2011 at 10:05 pm

dave rice October 23, 2011 at 3:31 pm
Countries with a better quality of life? Check the googles, there are plenty.
Dave still looking ………………………………………………………………………………………………
Still looking……………………………………………………………………
Still looking…………………………………………………………….
Still looking………………………………………………

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avatar Jack Hamlin October 23, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Boy that sounds like a time-warp response by middle classer from the 60’s….Perhaps the OB Rag has invented time travel. And it is just as marevlously silly as when it was made then. As for that border’s thing, you could leave anytime you wanted back then, but now you can only leave if you have a passport.

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avatar Jack Hamlin October 23, 2011 at 5:10 pm

So just to be clear, we can drop off food for the Occupiers at Children’s Park, but not the Civic Center?

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avatar dave rice October 23, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Civic Center – they’re asking for prepared, ready-to-eat food, nothing that requires cooking. Not sure if they got the kitchen up and running again at Children’s, but I do know that the location is only temporary and they’re not really looking to take on baggage, as the prospects are good for acquiring a permanent base of operations by the middle of next week.

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avatar Jack Hamlin October 23, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Thank you Dave…..

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