City Council Session Shut-down by Citizens Demanding Constitutional Rights in San Diego

by on October 25, 2011 · 19 comments

in Civil Disobedience, Civil Rights, Popular, San Diego

Occupy San Diego protesters march to city council meeting

Tuesday, Oct 25:After spending almost an hour discussing an illegal scheme to transfer even more wealth to downtown hotel owners using taxpayers’ money; the San Diego City Council literally turned tail and ran from the council chambers when a coalition of community groups joined the Occupy San Diego movement in asking council members to support their rights to free speech and assembly within the city.

About 60 citizens marched from Children’s Park just before the 10 a.m. Council session and met up with the several hundred young people camped at the Civic Center Plaza. Ignoring the police demands to stay on the sidewalk, protestors took to the streets the entire route.

Michelle Deutsch, a young woman who was brutally pepper sprayed by an out-of-control police officer on October 14 in retaliation after she had just concluded an interview with a CNN reporter, led a “human microphone” presentation asking that the council adopt a resolution similar to the one recently passed by the Los Angeles City Council in support of Occupy Los Angeles.

Michelle Deutsch reads Occupy San Diego resolution request to audience

Startled and petrified, council members sat perched on their lush chairs and paneled desks high above the crowd, as Deutsch read the request, echoed by the crowd of about 75 citizens in unison voice after each sentence. The roar of words, the emotional cadence, the pure democratic spectacle of a crowd shouting up at these eight puppets of power and wealth was exhilarating. Council President Young looked worried, he had lost his control, his commands could not be heard; while the conservative members almost panicked, terror in their eyes, “is this the future, where the people actually rule” you could almost hear them think. The seven policemen in the chambers just looked at one another, dumbfounded, leaderless, having to endure the assembled citizens’ thunderous demands – as did city staff.

Deutsch, read the appeals, echoed by the crowd, their words bouncing off the walls, “we request that you respect and uphold our rights under the First Amendment,” they shouted. “You took an oath to uphold the Constitution,” the citizens reminded councilmembers.

“Please endorse our peaceful protest action against undue corporate and monetary influence on our government,” they asked, “the Los Angeles City Council adopted a resolution supporting the LA Protest, we want the same respect here and from you.”

Then the group representing Occupy San Diego informed the council that “if you do not place it [a resolution of support] on your agenda, we will accept this as consent to our protest and make our plans based on our Constitutional rights.” The protestors vowed to continue to “occupy” the civic center plaza and Children’s Park. “We will continue to have a medical tent, food, educational materials and media support,” they said.

Citizens become human microphone

After communal voice was given to the request, remembering that this was there second visit to the council meeting to try and get the resolution on the agenda; the frustration of having to fight for their Constitutional rights here in the 21st Century, in front of this political front for San Diego’s oligarchy, burst forth as the crowd erupted into a chant, “Endorse!, Endorse!, Endorse!” and council members freaked, almost tripping over their staff members seated behind them , as they ran for the exit.

Council members nervously reconvened in the afternoon, but not until the San Diego Police Department had staged over 30 police officers in patrol cars, 10 motorcycle cops, a paddy wagon and riot gear vans two blocks away, at Third and Ash. In addition, Deputy Police Chief Boyd Long, the city’s top demonstration/riot control cop, personally took control of the chamber officers to protect council members from the voices of the people.

Only about 30 Occupy folks returned for the afternoon session, while the council relegated the rest of public comment to the end of the afternoon session, allowing the horde of well-paid lobbyists and attorneys who were well-suited, glancing at Rolexes, clutching briefcases full of papers outlining special requests for their wealthy clients to proceed with their power games – the corrupt system of politics continued, protected by the armed might of “America’s Finest.” The citizen’s group was ignored by all eight council members; like an addict overlooks the actuality of his sickness.

As I left the council chambers, the lyrics from one of Patti Smith’s protest songs, kept repeating itself in my head, “I awakened to the cry that the people have the power; the power to dream, to rule – to wrestle the world from fools.”

Video by . (Editor: Thanks for being there and recording this)

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Steve October 25, 2011 at 10:30 pm

great story

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avatar Louisa Golden October 26, 2011 at 4:55 am

Watched the video. I love the human mic!

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avatar Zack Jones October 26, 2011 at 7:54 am

right on

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avatar Pete619 October 26, 2011 at 8:25 am

WOW!!! An actual decocractic process in an american city. No wonder they called in the riot squad!

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avatar Shane Finneran October 26, 2011 at 9:04 am

I also really enjoyed this story. And I do hope the city council adopts a resolution supporting Occupy San Diego. Cheers to the LA council for stepping up.

One question: it sucks that no one on the San Diego city council responded to the presentation described here, but was that because the presentation wasn’t on the agenda? From what I understand, councilmembers are legally barred from commenting on items that aren’t on the agenda in advance.

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avatar Patty Jones October 26, 2011 at 3:05 pm

It was not on the agenda, as had been requested by citizens the week before.

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avatar jim grant October 26, 2011 at 9:07 am

I believe it is called the Brown act. An attorney can probably fill in the details.

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avatar RB October 26, 2011 at 2:27 pm

How disrespectful was this group to the next gentleman who waited for his turn to speak?
The ME generation got their three minutes before the City Council and then prevent others from speaking and getting their turn. Stay classy San Diego!

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avatar Shane Finneran October 26, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Hey! That’s from Anchorman! good one

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avatar Patty Jones October 26, 2011 at 3:08 pm

I’m wondering which “generation” you are referring to exactly, as I would say there were at least 4 different generations represented there. Or maybe you’re referring to any other “generation” than YOU.

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avatar jim grant October 26, 2011 at 2:32 pm

His name is Jarvis Ross a very outspoken and concerned citizen. He is at City Hall often, I have seen him on the TV feed many many times. He lives in Point Loma.
That group has used up their 15 minutes of fame.
They were rude and disrespectful. Take a good look at the grounds they ” occupy” downtown they are a mess for sure. Looks just like some areas the urban travelers occupy in OB…..

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avatar Shane Finneran October 26, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Thank you for the info on the outspoken and concerned citizen.

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avatar Daniel Beeman October 26, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Jim! Ever seen me at City council?? I trained Jarvis and others about the process. BUT THE “Representatives” have never listened to the people. They have continually put safety on the back burner: look at the roads, sidewalks, lack of street lighting, park maintenance, and fewer & fewer library hours. They have us in a deficit for years going on decades, just like their so called “Housing Emergency”.
These young people, and many others are tired of the abuse by the “leaders” who just move an agenda for their own power and political gain. Not to mention financial gains.
Police action is just another power move by the fear mongers! I’ve seen no violence from the Occupy protestors, but have seen lots on media and web coverage of their pepper spraying on non-physically confronting protestors.
The amount of funds they waste on police “guards” at Civic Plaza is the administrations own choice! In fact, why did they try to remove the Occupy protestors on a holiday: Columbus Day? So that they can get overtime, on as mass scale?? There are many many more illegal pressing matters happening our this large city. Save our budget dollars and let the people Occupy San Diego.

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avatar jim grant October 26, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Mr. Ross no doubt was going to speak in favor of the group as he is a HARSH critic of overspending…But the group shouted him down very unfortunate.
As any attorney will attest there is a certain way you conduct your self in certain settings you may not agree , but thats the way it goes when you walk through the double doors at City Hall or the Courthouse.
Mr. Ross is at City Hall at least 3 times a week badgering the Council about overspending , his well thought out letters are published in the UT often as well.

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avatar Patty Jones October 26, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Mr. Ross spoke later and was very understanding of the whole situation.

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avatar Daniel Beeman October 26, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Very Good video! It is good to scare them a bit. But only a bit. Stand the course. You can go to all the public meetings!
Okay, training lesson on City Council (and other council committee meetings) public input requirements: First sign up with a speaker slip! Early! You have 3 minutes per person (sometime more for a group, generally 15 minute max.) on EACH subject on the docket, so read the dockets! If you don’t have the slips in early they may skip over your item and put it on the “consent agenda” & never speak to the issue/subject. You also can speak on any subject within the body (City Council/Housing Authority/Redevelopment Agency/ETC) jurstiction during the public comment period, so let me restate that: you can speak on/at each “different hat” aka Council/H.A./Redev. Agncy for public comment, and ALSO for a specific subject. Two different slips. Request “PUBLIC COMMENT” for other hats/agencies, on top of speaker slip. Use your time! Be congenial. Be semi-loud.
Note: realize where the cameras are aiming. The ones from behind the council member seating. Sitting members of your group behind the speakers stand and to the north gets off camera views. Good place for signs. Be aware of media cameras, on the staging area north of speaker podium by seated chamber/staff seating.
Plan well. Speak Loud. Be diligent. Have a list of requests/questions/observations. Consider the docket and plan your strategy.
Committee meetings are a bit smaller, but have same actions: speaker slips, docket subjects, public comment. These meetings happen almost everyday, but not on Fridays, Mon. or Tue. during general City Council meetings.
P.S. CCDC (Centre City {RE}Development Corporation) has open public meetings regularly also. You can attend these too! Advise the media! Redevelopment has the second largest budget, but below (not much less) the City budget.

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avatar annagrace October 26, 2011 at 10:46 pm

Daniel- thanks for your suggestions! I researched the municipal code today to find out the rules that apply to public comments on non-agenda items. (2.6 of the Administrative code section) I wrote a post to help to understand the process better. http://obrag.org/?p=47937

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avatar zoly October 31, 2011 at 6:55 am

Why aren’t they protesting the government pensions that the citizens are stuck paying forever. Yes, corporations are out of contol–but who lets them get away with it????
The government, the unions and private interest groups.
Start at the top, not the middle and the end result.. Go to Sacramento and march in front of the Capitol. These are the elected crooks.

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