Attorneys working on behalf of Occupy San Diego will be filing a temporary restraining order against the city of San Diego and the San Diego Police Department in response to the violation of protesters’ First Amendment rights. The attorneys will be holding press conference at 11 am this morning announcing their filing at the Civic Center Plaza.
Demonstrators in San Diego’s version of Occupy Wall Street have been attempting to exercise freedom of speech and assembly rights at the Civic Center Plaza, but have been chased out, have had their tents and belongings confiscated, been pepper-sprayed, and dozens were arrested by police – 53 in just one sweep at 2 am on October 28th. Protesters believe that the Plaza is a centrally-located public space designed for use by the citizens to gather and express themselves.
This treatment by the City and police stand in stark contrast to how occupiers are being treated in other large California cities. In Los Angeles, the occupiers are camping out in front of City Hall without molestation by police. The City Council passed a resolution in support of the demonstrators, and the Mayor has visited the occupy site and was being friendly.
Holly Hellerstedt, a member of Occupy San Diego, stated:
“Occupy San Diego came to the Civic Center to protest the current economic conditions in the United States and around the World.”We want to get organized and work to get our message of the ’99 percent’ out to the community, but it becomes impossible while facing police raids, intimidation, and the constant threat of arrest by police-all of which suppress our First Amendment rights.”
Occupiers and their supporters have been experiencing an unconstitutional crack-down at the Plaza lately. Police monitor comings and goings at the Plaza and order people entering the site to not place belongings on the ground or their items would be subject to confiscation and they to arrest.
Bryan Pease, a free speech attorney in San Diego, who spoke at the Bank of America rally last Saturday in downtown San Diego, stated:
“The SDPD are currently arbitrarily telling people who walk through the Civic Center that if they set down anything-their purse, their bag, a chair, or in one case even a tomato plant-, they will be arrested. The First Amendment guarantees the right to free speech and the right to peacefully assemble – Municipal Code section 54.010 and how it is being enforced by the SDPD is unconstitutional.”
Occupy SD protestors have been occupying public space since October 7th as a local connection in solidarity with the occupation movement which is expressing several shared ideas, one of which is, “that democratic government derives its just power from the people.”