A new village being born in the shadow of City Hall at Occupy San Diego

by on October 10, 2011 · 30 comments

in Civil Rights, Organizing, Popular, San Diego

The first General Assembly at the Civic Center, Saturday, October 8, 2011. (Photos by Patty Jones.)

I had already reached the conclusion intellectually, but it didn’t get to my gut until late last night. I was sitting on the wide steps in Civic Center Plaza amidst a heated discussion among about a dozen occupiers.  Even with the electricity of our discussion coupled with all that had been put up during the occupation, something new and wonderfully addicting was being born. We were creating the beginnings of a new society right here in the shadow of City Hall, right here in the windy, cold corridors of San Diego power.

As you walk among the nearly 90 tents set up in the Plaza, and observe what the occupiers are actually doing, you can sense that a small town, a small village, has been created right in the bowels of our large city, right in the heart of its civic government. A village born in the middle of a city.

I  looked around.  People were in a food line, a constant figment of the occupation.  The Food Tent was one of the first to be installed, and multiple tables were covered with boxes of food stuffs – lots of bread and rolls . Washing tubs stood nearby, along with bins for recyclables and trash. Stacked behind the tables were cases of water bottles and boxes of donated foods. Campers had been asked to bring their own plates, containers and utensils and most had.

The Village at Civic Center Plaza.

Twenty yards away was the medical tent, and it even had a cot inside. A sign hung outside that announced: “The People’s Clinic”. The Medical Committee appears to be very well organized and that there was always some volunteer hanging out in its tent waiting to be of service.

From there, if you took a 90 degree turn to the west, you might run into the Voter Registration booth and tent, prominently set up so anyone walking by would see it.

People were in their tents, talking, reading, eating – you know, the things that people do when they’re home. Small groups sat in circles, sharing food, stories and laughter.  A few children were visible. Here and there, someone fingered their guitars.  And you cannot escape seeing the overall amazing diversity of the encampment. All colors and varieties of  human folk.

Mingling with the humans were a number of very friendly dogs – all on leashes.  I didn’t see any cats, however.  I did pass the “Comfort” tent, where bins of donated clothing and blankets were being collected and displayed for the taking.  Out of nowhere, two old friends appeared and strung up a Bulletin Board for the village. A hammock had been thrown up, hooked on sign poles, and someone had added a cardboard sign on the City pole with all the different destinations around the world that simply said “Occupy San Diego”.

I walked some distance and around the corner was the Library, with a large display of books and reading material. Everyone had been asked initially to bring a book to share, and the occupiers and their supporters had certainly responded.  There were also stacks of DVD’s to view, magazines, and other literature for perusal.  No library cards needed here – the check out policy is very liberal.

Up against one of the walls of the Quad was a string of tables under a tarp labeled “Media”.   A live-stream camera was constantly on and a half dozen people sat behind their laptops.

Legal observers and Safety Committee people mingle about. Tonight it was quiet. But apparently that’s not always the case. The first night, a rock band played until 4 a.m. keeping some awake – and some of them had brought that issue to the General Assembly the next day.

The food line.

There also had been an incident where some guys hung an anti-corporate sign on the Plaza’s fountain. There had been a brief stand-off between one police officer and a small angry crowd.  But cooler heads prevailed and the man on the fountain was given a warning.

In general, the San Diego Police Department and its officers have been very accommodating to the protesters.  Several break-off spontaneous marches of dozens of demonstrators have occurred since Saturday night and the police blocked traffic to allow people to take to the streets.  Groups of 2 or 3 officers would stand by during the General Assembly or patrol the encampment during the night.  Also about a dozen campers had placed their tents in an area that the police did not want them placed.

Today – Monday – there had been some rumors that police wanted to confiscate phones and other recording devices. Just rumors however according to Lt. Sean Murphy – who I just spoke to at 12:30 pm today. (I’m on the Police Liaison Committee.)  Some occupiers are still worried that tomorrow, Tuesday, when City Hall is bustling again, there may be problems.

Late Monday morning, the occupation site was visited by the Fire Marshall, who told the occupiers that a 5 gallon propane tank near the kitchen had to go immediately.  He also didn’t like all the cords and the generator either. But like everything else in this San Diego occupy movement, it will all be worked out.

And to top off the village atmosphere, we have our town hall meetings – the General Assembly – every night at 7pm.  Before the GA meets, all the different committees are supposed to meet at 6 and report back to the large gathering.  New people are encouraged to join one of the committees – where – we’re constantly reminded, the real work is. Tonight, for instance, there will be a Legal Observer training.

The People's Clinic.

As Occupy San Diego enters its fourth day, the occupiers have been able to catch their breathe. When the Plaza was first taken over, the organizers were exhausted – many churning on just a few hours of sleep a night – and everything was all so new. And there were so many new people, new people who wanted to do something, who needed to go through orientation sessions, who needed to be integrated into the new structures created since the occupy San Diego movement had begun now almost two weeks ago. It had taken a few days on the ground for people to feel centered.

As the late night discussion echoed into the night, with some occupiers much more articulate at that hour than others – including myself – the dozen were joined by twenty more. So, from midnight to 1 am, there was perhaps three dozen occupiers debating the value and worth of the General Assemblies themselves, the consensus decision-making process, and what some had seen as a level of divisiveness that had sprung up recently.

Not until I had sat through much of the discussion did I understand the passion and intensity that some of the original organizers had for the consensus process, and how that process stands at the core of the occupation movement. We are so trained to not have our views heard, to have someone else make our decisions for us, that something like the consensus voting process is difficult to get your head around. New people who come to the nightly General Assemblies view it as clumsy, inefficient, and certainly frustrating.  Yet, as a veteran organizer had said, it might take hours or even days to make a decision but once it’s made, it’s awesome because it represents everybody.

Several pointed out that everything up to now was the result of the consensus process – the 80 or so tents, the hundreds of people that were living in the new village, the marches, the huge, massive turn-out of support last Friday ….

At one point, a tall, young man blurted out: “I love you guys – all of you!”  I smiled and shifted my weight on the hard steps. I looked around and the intensity was breaking up and people started moving off into the night.

The Occupy Village at the Civic Center is now moving through its fourth day – and tonight will be the fourth night.  There is truly a remarkable scene developing here at Civic Center Plaza. A new village is being born right here in the shadow of  the big city, and new ways of relating and talking with other each other are trying to take root in the sandy soil of San Diego.

You won’t read about it in the U-T, or see it on Channel 10News. But it’s happening, and you have to come down and get a taste of it yourself to really comprehend what is going on.  Can you even imagine? San Diego? That sleepy, laid-back town? Something is happening – it’s happening in San Diego and it’s happening all over this country – right now there are a hundred and ten Occupy events taking place.  At the moment, there’s 1383 communities either holding or planning their Occupy events.  And it’s world-wide.

As I had spoken into the megaphone the other night during the GA, “this is the most democratic process that you have ever experienced in your life!  We’re making history here by the hour!”

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Ricky Young October 10, 2011 at 2:25 pm
Patty Jones October 10, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Good on them. It’s about time.


Ricky Young October 10, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Oh, and I forgot:



Marcia Boruta October 10, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Thanks for the report, Frank, and the photos, Patty! And thanks to the OB Rag for being the best media at this important news event!


Sunshine October 10, 2011 at 3:20 pm

so glad to seeing this take hold.


Richard Mooney October 10, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Stupid hippie, power is for suits.


John Friend October 10, 2011 at 3:58 pm

I’ve attended one GA meeting thus far, and have taken a bunch of video and photos of Occupy San Diego. I have covered this movement extensively on my blog, which you can check out by clicking on my name on this comment.

After the march yesterday, there was a rally and an organizer had a megaphone asking people to come up and say a few words. I decided I wanted to do just that, and was attempting to simply explain the signs I made highlighting the most important issues Occupy Wall St. needs to address as a movement. I was interrupted, booed and screamed at for speaking my mind. You can see the video on my blog if you’re interested.

I’d be happy to discuss this with anyone here or from the OB Rag.



doug porter October 10, 2011 at 6:27 pm

“the most important issues Occupy Wall St. needs to address”.
Therein lies the source of your problem. 9/11 Truther Conspiracies and (If you follow the links in your sources) stances against Jews are NOT “important issues”. As regular readers of the Rag can tell you, I have spoken out saying that the 9/11 stuff deserves a hearing. But, sorry dude, OccupySD does not need to make it a priority. And your acting all wounded and hurt after being booed for trying the hijack the movement is simply weak sauce.
Same goes for the Ron Paul supporters, and assorted Democrats who think they can just stroll in and be given free reign. This is about the 99% vs. 1%. Please don’t give ammunition to assholes who would use your statements to distract from the quest for economic justice.


Shelley Plumb October 10, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Economic justice is the key, Doug. Thank you for expressing what a lot of us have been thinking. Peace.


John Friend October 11, 2011 at 6:41 am

“And your acting all wounded and hurt after being booed for trying to hijack the movement is simply weak sauce.”

Hey doug porter, what is weak sauce is weak minded individuals like yourself that fail to even understand what I’m trying to say. First off, I am not “wounded and hurt” after what happened; I am proud of the way I handled myself. And I am not “trying to hijack the movement”; I’m simply trying to participate. Nice try though buddy.

I’d be happy to debate doug porter on any subject at any time at any place.


doug porter October 11, 2011 at 9:20 am

again, i go back to your words: “the most important issues Occupy Wall St. needs to address”.
there’s nothing to debate here. you may–as some people believe– feel passionately about a 9/11 conspiracy theory. but that does not make it it a priority for Occupy. You have to recognize that a lot of people also find the strand of antisemitism embedded in the 9/11 Truthers movement to be deeply offensive.
As to debating me, I’m sure it would be one-sided. I can’t speak due to throat cancer. And if you’d done you homework–for once– you’d know that.


John Friend October 11, 2011 at 9:34 am

The most important issues Occupy Wall St needs to address, in my personal opinion:

1. Criminal Federal Reserve bank robbing us and loaning money at interest to our government and private corporations.
2. Criminal Wall St. bankers that looted the American tax payer and wrecked the economy- and not only got away with it, paid themselves massive bonuses to boot.
3. 9/11 was a FALSE FLAG attack done by criminals that have control of the US government and media, and Israeli intelligence and military operatives, many of whom were in fact arrested on 9/11.
4. Complete and total Zionist control of the US government and media.

I’m just shooting from the hip here folks, but these are the major issues we need to address if we want to have any real change in this country. All of these issues are relevant and extremely related to Occupy Wall St. and Occupy San Diego.

doug says that although I feel passionately about the 9/11 issue, it is not a priority for Occupy. Oh yeah doug, says who? You? That’s fine. But let me just remind you and everyone else that this movement was started so interested parties could organize to take back their country and address the major issues that need to be addressed. That’s what I’m trying to do: participate in this movement and have my voice heard. I have a lot of information to share that I think may people would be interested in knowing about.

doug also says:
“You have to recognize that a lot of people also find the strand of antisemitism embedded in the 9/11 Truthers movement to be deeply offensive.”

doug and others have to recognize that the label “antisemitism” is simply a distraction from addressing the issues I and many other people are raising. There is nothing “antisemitic” in telling the truth.

As for our little debate, maybe dialogue would be a more appropriate description. :)

And that’s taking place right here. Cheers!


doug porter October 11, 2011 at 9:57 am

case closed. give the man a tin foil hat.


john October 13, 2011 at 5:38 am

As well as a dunce cap if he falls in the “9/11 controlled demolition conspiracy theory” camp, rather than the more rational “question what the government knew/lied to hide their incompetance” folks. His hardcore stance suggests the prior. His statements theat it was criminals in our government all but confirms it.
As CDCT believers are at most (by credible polls) just 6% and likely less of the population you’d be in lonely company. Less than 1% if you’re in the Dr. Judy Woods camp of “the towers were dustified by Directed Energy Weapons” Moreover as their beliefs require an incredible combination of ignorance, lack of basic science education, (*see bottom)and dishonest manipulation of anecdotal information to adopt, over the years most sensible people have come to treat them with utter contempt. Even Chomsky scoffs at them, when you don’t have him on your side in an anti-government cause that says a lot.
I think it was Bill Maher that said “how stupid do you have to be to watch jetliners weighing a quarter of a million pounds packed with fuel and people slam into buildings at 550 mph, burn in a blazing inferno for close to 2 hours then crumble to the ground and then say “no I think it was something else!” ???”
No I’m pretty sure it had something to do with pissing off Muslims by starving a million of their children to death with our Iraq policy in the 90’s.
But I digress and back to topic, this movement cannot be diluted or obfuscated by those who would hijack it for their own failed agendas.

(* all notions of controlled demolitions can be dispensed with two ideas-one it’s not contested that the impacts knocked most fireproofing off the structures in the floors that burned- if fires in these buildings did not typically get hot enough to weaken their steel why does code require the fireproofing? Because they want to waste money?
Accepting therefore that at least one floor DID fail due to sheared beams and heat we arrive at point two, simple physics-
what happens to the mass of the top part of a tower when inertia takes over after it falls 3 meters or one story- the load presented to the floors below is 30x the load presented by the static mass.
In one tower that was 30 floors. What would happen if you carefully placed a 900 story tower on top of the remaining 78 floor building?
Wouldn’t it pulverize anything below it in seconds?
Why do you think civil engineers just laugh at these people? The position consists of “physics are beyond my grasp of understanding but if I voice my beliefs long enough others will join me”)

To be fair:
“I have a lot of information to share that I think may people would be interested in knowing about.”

If you had solid evidence the “criminals” you claim are behind this paid Bin Laden to get 19 hijhackers to do this well that’s rational, I don’t put much past Bush/Cheney/TPTB though I think killing 3000 is a stretch. No I think you’re going to have lots to say about Zionists and bring up stupid **** like Larry Silverstein saying pull it and having the first buildings in the US (n)ever torn down just for containing asbestos. To all truthers, go ahead, ASK QUESTIONS. RECOGNIZE ANSWERS.


Burkey October 14, 2011 at 6:04 pm

I’ll agree that focus needs to be on the economy in these protests, but there is no explanation for Building 7’s sudden collapse other than controlled demolition.

Chomsky is no authority on 9/11.

Neither is Bill Maher.

If you can give me an explanation for building 7, I’m alll ears.

As far as jet fuel causing the “fires” that “took down” the twin towers, I find that very unconvincing. Jet fuel burns up fast. (Fireball.) The idea that it somehow didn’t catch fire and instead fell down the elevator shafts and then caught fire is..

well. I don’t even know what to say, but it’s just so damn sad that the corporate media, who Occupyers KNOW has lied on so many other things, is able to convince otherwise intelligent people that the numerous experts –military, intelligence, architectural, demolitions–who say 9/11 should be investigated–are wrong,
I just don’t know. Wow.


dave rice October 14, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Not that we’re saying people who want to look back to 9/11 are necessarily wrong, just that people trying to bring this issue to the table at an economic protest are the ones giving the mass media an excuse to brush us off as aimless loonies. I did the same to Tea Partiers when they had a bunch of people going off-message – http://obrag.org/?p=18286


john October 14, 2011 at 8:32 pm

I’ll try to be brief as we are off topic but it’s always a worth discussion.
This page has lots of information on the mechanics of collapse:
The gist of which is that the face of the building toward one of the towers was hit by a huge chunk that scooped a hole 25% the depth of the building, 33% of its width, 10 stories high. (the damage actually spanning 20 floors) Not only damaging the structure but giving the fires from the fuel and transtormer oil fires on the lower floors lots of oxygen.
Its collapse was much different from the towers though and WOULD look like a controlled demolition, the towers looked like a hammer hitting a glass nail.
This page addresses most of the anecdotal claims about bldg 7:
The most important being:
“By now, this is going on into the afternoon, and we were concerned about additional collapse, not only of the Marriott, because there was a good portion of the Marriott still standing, but also we were pretty sure that 7 World Trade Center would collapse. Early on, we saw a bulge in the southwest corner between floors 10 and 13, and we had put a transit on that and we were pretty sure she was going to collapse. You actually could see there was a visible bulge, it ran up about three floors. It came down about 5 o’clock in the afternoon, but by about 2 o’clock in the afternoon we realized this thing was going to collapse. ”
City building engineers put a transit on it (sighted it) from street level and it was leaning and had bulges in critical floors hours before its collapse, and firefighters hear it creaking and felt it moving all morning.
So you’ve been given an explanation, lots of info out there if you really look (and please don’t take this personally) just remember “I don’t understand how it collapsed” when the info is readily available shouldn’t be cause to join people saying America did this to ourselves.
As for jet fuel, it wasn’t all that burned. It was an accelerant that quickly spread the fire to the other contents like furniture, paper, etc (including a bank of computer UPS-huge ones) that do burn plenty hot enough, which is why these buildings are required to have fireproofing. Nobody disputes the fireproofing was knocked off the beams, and the requirement for it proves that fires fueled by the typical contents of such a building can weaken their steel enough to compromise the structure.
Therefore it’s a logical fallacy to believe the steel couldn’t have been weakened. Moreover, the jet fuel does not change the temperature of this office building fire itself, it just allowed it to spread to more contents and faster.

“The idea that it somehow didn’t catch fire and instead fell down the elevator shafts and then caught fire is..”

Umm, there are victims of this with burns all over their bodies, don’t tell them you don’t believe.

“the numerous experts –military, intelligence, architectural, demolitions–who say 9/11 should be investigated–”

Within their professions their numbers are less than 1%.

Hard to explain fringe, but it’s unscientific to grasp it and ignore a 99% consensus- or call them sheeple who aren’t as smart as they are. However note that “should be investigated” is RATIONAL. Of course they are keeping things from us. They involve incompetance and corruption, not incredible evil and murdering 3000.


john October 13, 2011 at 6:30 am

“doug and others have to recognize that the label “antisemitism” is simply a distraction from addressing the issues I and many other people are raising. ”

Like what, “Holohoax”?


Frank Gormlie October 10, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Tragedy has struck the Occupy encampment – a man possibly hanging a sign from the concourse parking structure fell to his death this afternoon. Here’s the U-T:

“A witness told police that the man was possibly hanging a sign off the parking structure when he fell several stories and landed in the concourse area near Golden Hall about 3:15 p.m., San Diego police said.”

This is so sad … and I thought sad things happen in real villages.


Patty Jones October 10, 2011 at 6:05 pm

From SignOnSanDiego,
“SAN DIEGO — Police are investigating the death of a man who apparently jumped from the eighth level of a parking structure at City Hall Monday afternoon, authorities said.

San Diego police made the preliminary determination that it was suicide based on their investigation and witness interviews, said police Capt. Mark Jones. No suicide note was found.

The man, who was in his 40s, was not believed to be affiliated with the Occupy San Diego movement stationed in the Civic Center concourse, Jones said. His name has not been released pending notification of family.”


radicaluterus October 10, 2011 at 4:53 pm

I believe that we are getting a taste of what Government is all about. It’s hard, everyone does not agree, and sometimes with the best of intentions tragedies occur. This movement is worldwide and it is a miracle in my life. I’ve been waiting all my life to see people rise up against corruption and unchecked power. We were warned by Eisenhower that our future would be dominated by war mongers. Or as I like to say, deviant penis.

What is happening has a more maternal feel to it then previous movements. A maternal approach has patience with the weakest amongst us, and those who feel least, feel the least powerful.

That’s why money must be purged from our political system. There are things in this life that are more valuable than money.

Human beings and human relationships and our relationship with our world matters. Our relationship sucks right now because deviant penis doesn’t care about relationships, he cares about money.


unWASHEdwalmaRtthONG October 10, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Shall there be a candle light vigil for the fallen?


Patty Jones October 10, 2011 at 7:16 pm

According to what I read on the live feed chat there will be, time to be determined.


lane tobias October 10, 2011 at 10:14 pm

I’m going to say this: I’m there in double spirit. In solidarity, your Bro, Lane.

And condolences to the family and friends of the deceased…


john October 11, 2011 at 1:31 am

Oh please. You may be the next to lose yours.

I had some conservative grandpa in the Amazon customer forums telling me all these OWS people were spoiled brats too lazy to get a job like he did when he was young. I pointed out there were no employment ads in the newspapers and nobody was hiring, he said they should get cracking and “clean stalls” (horse!) or “go door to door and paint numbers on curbs” or “wash windows”.
I asked if he was paying anyone to do these kind of things for him around his house, of course he said no. I said if he did he’d probably pay them a dollar and tell them not to spend it all in one place.
The people you see aren’t the only ones disgusted with our system, and Wall St. is not the only thing to be disgusted at. Matter of fact the people who’ve been sitting back letting this all happen and not caring as long as their 401k kept growing or their mutual funds kept paying dividends could be seen as accomplices to all this.
Is that what motivated the comment? You can’t see any worth in putting the brakes on corruption in our financial institutions?


Groucho October 11, 2011 at 11:28 am

By our count there were 73 tents set up on 10/8/11. 87 tents set up on 10/9/11. And 94 tents set up on 10/10/11.
Can someone help me set up a DVD projector with power (deep cycle batteries with inverter) to show the Marx Brothers movie Ducksoup? it features the famous “mirror” scene.
“Free Free Freedonia!”


john October 13, 2011 at 6:08 am

I’m kind of thinking “Billy Jack” or “Bless the Beasts and the Children” being more relevant.
In any case the hardware and logistics you’re talking would be a lot of coin. How about a mass download on everyone’s Androids, iPhones, iPads, netbooks and laptops?
Which leads to the big question:
Does Camp Occupy SD have a recharge station? Do any participants have solar chargers?
Maybe I could call Wall St and get some capital to invest in some and start selling them…

All joking aside, here’s your movie: “The Grapes of Wrath”.

Seriously. We’re on the way.


mr fresh October 13, 2011 at 8:54 am

well, I have to say that Mr. Friend has succeeded in re-directing the focus of this story from OccupySD to his flavor of conspiracy theory. which is exactly what he set out to do.


John Friend October 13, 2011 at 8:59 am

LOL- I want to talk about all subjects, and yes 9/11 is a big subject we should be talking about.

I have been covering Occupy SD extensively on my blog. Check it out.


Allen Lewis October 13, 2011 at 1:40 pm

I just got this in a email, “tomorrow at 7 a.m., under Mayor Bloomberg’s orders, the NYPD is coming to Zuccotti Park to kick the 99% protesters out. It’s being done under the guise of “cleaning” the park, but new rules will mean the end of the occupation.2″


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