By Eugene Davidovich
On Saturday morning as planned at 8:30am, protesters with Occupy San Diego began to assemble at Civic Center Plaza on 3rd and B for the all day InterOccupy conference.
The first couple hours at the plaza were filled with sign making, passing out welcome packets which contained information about the day’s events, and getting to know the protesters who came down to Occupy San Diego from other cities and states for the day.
By the time 10am came around, the protesters were armed with signs, banners, lots of energy, and over a dozen soap boxes. At 10:20 they took to the streets. Over fifty people formed three single files lines at the Plaza and marched south on B street, zigzagging through the Gaslamp district. Chants could be heard through all of downtown San Diego, “Shit’s Fucked up, Shit’s Fucked up and Bull Shit”, “We are the 99%”, “We are Occupy, We are never gonna die, when they try to kick us out, we’re only gonna multiply.”
The march was accompanied by a half dozen San Diego Police Department (SDPD) motorcycle cops who had already been staging next to the plaza and ready to move when the march started. The motorcycle brigade cause no trouble for the protesters and to everyone’s surprise actually stopped traffic and ensured a safe and clear path for the march.
The march ended a few blocks away from the plaza at 5th and E, the location where, one hundred years ago, free speech activists with the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies), stood up on soapboxes and fought for worker’s rights and against the City’s ordinance banning free speech and signing in the downtown area.
When the march arrived at 5th and E, the protesters first occupied the entire intersection chanting and voicing their grievances against the government and speaking in support of social and economic justice. After a few minutes, so as not to block downtown traffic for too long, they moved to the sidewalks, placed soapboxes on the ground at each corner and took turns speaking out.
“People died for this, for our ability to speak on these very steps, and that is worth recognizing.” Melissa, one of the organizer of the day’s actions said after getting off her soapbox.
Cheryl, another march organizer said when asked about the importance of the day’s action that,“The Wobblies were fire-hosed right here on 5th and E one hundred years ago. Today we are here because we want a system that protects individuals and their right to free speech and peaceful assembly, otherwise we will continue to have the same problem we have had for over a century.”
At 11:30 the group assembled at the intersection with soapboxes in hand and continued the march to the second location on the day’s plan; Children’s Park, on 1st and Island, where Occupy San Diego held their first General Assembly and where the occupation in the City began.
At noon, the protesters marched on the San Diego Convention Center with a San Diego group called the Save the Bill of Rights Committee, where the Democratic Party has been holding their State convention, to voice grievances against the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which many believe gives rights to the government to indefinitely detain U.S. Citizens without trial, judge or jury.