By Nadin Abbott / December 23, 2011
During the early morning hours of December 23rd the Occupy San Diego encampment was raided by San Diego Police, and three people were arrested, at least two of them seemingly without cause.
Later that day, the American flag that’s been guarded by Occupiers at Civic Center Plaza (dubbed “Freedom Plaza” by occupiers) was confiscated from a Marine Corp veteran of the Gulf War, John Canter. Carter stated “I was guarding the flag during the raid. They took anything not held.”
John had kept at his post for forty five minutes and finally the flag was taken from him by an officer under the order of a Sergeant, and was cited for violating a City ordinance against carrying poles thicker than 1/4 inch.
Police Confiscation Led to Call for Rally and March to Reclaim the American Flag
This outrageous act by police led to an emergency call for action by local vets and other activists associated with Occupy San Diego for an American flag rally and march. Within less than 8 hours of the call, about seventy people responded and gathered first at 4th and B Streets. After a couple of brief speeches by John Canter and fellow vet and occupier Dave Gapp, the crowd formed up in the street in a column of twos, military-style, and marched with flags flying to the Civic Center.
The group entered the nearly-empty Plaza to a few waiting supporters. Over the last couple days, police had cleared out all remnants of the Occupy movement – except for chalk writings on the cement – in order to make everything “clean” for the opening of “The Nut Cracker” – the latest show at Civic Center Theater.
For nearly a half hour, the crowd – now joined by more supporters – milled about. A group of Occupy Women began caroling the group. After realizing that patrons at the Theater were coming out, a larger contingent of protesting carolers moved closer to the entrance and began singing to them. Some did stop to listen to about a half dozen traditional songs that had been rewritten for the occupy movement.
Solidarity With Egypt
As nightfall became evident, it was time for the “Solidarity with Egypt” demonstration. After the marchers gathered they formed up to march down Third Avenue and Broadway to the Federal Building. In support of the people of Egypt, and like Egypt, women got in front of the march. While walking down Broadway traffic was blocked, and marchers emphasized the theme of the march, and the ties between Tahrir square, the Occupy movement and Occupy San Diego. The fight is the same to all, and it is about the same thing. “From Cairo to San Diego, one struggle, one fight.”
Hanif Mohebi from the Council on American Islamic Relations addressed the crowd on the abuse of the protesters in Cairo who have been facing the Military and reminded people that Egyptians have died. He emphasized that the failure of the Egyptian revolution would be a “blow to all social justice movements.” This is a struggle for democracy. He also stated the demands that the Occupy movement is behind. First, cancel all military and civilian aid to Egypt. Second, stop the murder of all activists as well as detentions, and third, release of all prisoners. Lastly, end military rule in Egypt.
He also reminded the assembled company that “Egyptians want the same freedoms we have.” And that the military “wants to have elections as a puppet show.”
After Hosni Mubarack fell the Military took over rulership and so far has promised elections, but there is little trust in these elections by many in the population. The government is now under the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, (SCAF) led by Field Marshal Tantawi, who has ordered the troops to attack peaceful protesters at Tahrir square. These attacks have become violent, with shocking video emerging on the web of a woman dragged, her Hijab pulled off and laying on the ground in her underwear under laughing soldiers. This image has galvanized people around the world against SCAF.
Emir, an Occupier, addressed the crowd next. He reminded people that SCAF has lobbyists in DC, and they are the who’s who of the Military Industrial Complex, among others Raytheon. There are interests in DC to keep things like they are right now in Egypt, and to keep the population under the control of the one percent.
John Kenney next addressed the crowed. He reminded them that while Occupiers have been arrested, TIME declared this the year of the protestor. As Mr. Kenney put it, “the voices of democracy are the same all over the world.” There have also been seen the greatest galvanization of the social struggle since the nineteen sixties. He also told us that the American Spring is coming, following the Arab Spring.
The last speaker was Cecile Veillard, who emphasized this was a feminist struggle. As she pointed out, while we as a country claim to bring freedom and democracy to other countries, we have yet to achieve the Equal Rights Amendment in the United States. Moreover, women are losing rights in this country. “Women are still not equal.”
Cecile emphasized the lack of equality in pay. As well as how much women lose in income if they decide to raise a family. She reminded the audience of how many laws are in the works to control women’s bodies. In fact, she said it is the height of hypocrisy to claim we are bringing freedom to women abroad, since this has not been achieved in our own country.
After the speakers were done, the marchers walked down to Horton Plaza Mall, and marched through it on their way to the Gaslamp quarter. They blocked traffic the whole way, even during the march back to Freedom Plaza where they held their General Assembly.
Frank Gormlie contributed to this article.