Tents and tension return to Civic Center Plaza at Occupy San Diego

by on October 26, 2011 · 16 comments

in Civil Rights, Popular, San Diego

Tents have returned to the Occupy San Diego protest at the Civic Center Plaza.  During the night time General Assembly held Tuesday, Oct. 25, tents began to appear. By last count there were eight new tents erected, and was described as “a direct action” event by those who pitched the tents on the concrete in the shadow of City Hall.  The tents appeared to be newly purchased and several had “99%” written or painted on their sides.

The new tents visibly added to the tension and the daily/ nightly drama at the Plaza, as tents had been banned by the San Diego Police earlier during the occupation.  Tents had been banned at the Plaza on Thursday, October 13th, in a memo delivered to the protesters.  At least half a dozen tents were taken down by police on two occasions on Friday the 14th, several demonstrators pepper-sprayed and two people arrested.

Since then, police had allowed one “symbolic” tent.  Occupiers – who have now entered their 18th night at the Plaza – have slept each night in the Concourse but only in sleeping bags and other bedding.  And on Monday, October 24th, the United Nurses Union erected a tarp-type structure as a cover for their nurses’ and first aid station.

Immediately after the tents went up, an “emergency” session of the General Assembly was held to hammer out some guidelines for the tents; people were asked to take them down at 6 am Wednesday; they were asked to move them away from the medical station – which they did.

Police officers did approach the GA about the tents, and later occupiers said that the police indicated that they would not move against them that evening. There was intense speculation when or even if  the police would arrive in force to have the tents removed.  Some guessed it would occur at 1 or 2 am on Wednesday, others said it would be more like at 8 am – which is what occurred last time police came in force to get rid of the tents.

Others dismissed the idea that police would force the protesters to remove them at all.  Afterall, some said, they are a “right” needed for shelter and safety. Whereas, other occupiers and supporters viewed the new tents as an unnecessary escalation at the protest site, an upping of the tension on the same day that one hundred protesters filed into the City Council chambers to ask for a resolution in support of the Occupy San Diego action.

Whatever their fate, the new tents did provide their campers with some respite from the light rain that began falling.


{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

kathleen beck October 26, 2011 at 9:11 am

Yesterday when I was observing the occupation, I noticed that the visuals looked much worse with people on tarps than with people in their tents. Perhaps this is what they want, but….
I would imagine that the business/police people would welcome the tents over the tarps. I think that artful direction could strengthen the group. Perhaps the occupiers could have several facilitators in charge of the overall look of the place. More color and less clutter.
An Artist


Frank Gormlie October 26, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Having just returned from there, I can report that it is all quiet at the Plaza. There’s about 6 or so tents still up, and I counted 17 officers milling about the area.


Citizen October 26, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Are there any people in these newly purchased tents? When I went there last week, most tents appeared to be unoccupied, so to speak.


JEC October 26, 2011 at 3:23 pm

An article about clashes between police and occupiers in Atlanta and Oakland, posted on USAToday just one hour ago (2:20pm pst ) already has almost 1,100 comments – this issue clearly touches a nerve. The police in San Diego are no doubt in an awkward position – they are at this moment trying to defend against the hard right’s assaults on their benefits. Hey – good timing Carl.


annagrace October 26, 2011 at 6:55 pm

How’s this for irony- Atlanta’s Mayor “Reed said on Wednesday that he had no choice to arrest them because he believed things were headed in a direction that was no longer peaceful. He cited a man seen walking the park with an AK-47 assault rifle.”
WTF? Have we forgotten so soon TeaBaggers walking around with assault rifles? At an event where the president was speaking yet? All that talk about spilling the blood necessary to rejuvenate liberty? This is utter depravity and shameful hypocrisy.
Email Kasim Reed at mayorreed@atlantaga.gov and let him know the whole world is watching.


dave rice October 26, 2011 at 6:40 pm

There was some talk of marking the tents with occupation-related slogans and declaring them as ‘statements’ rather than ‘lodgings.’ It appears from the pics here that’s been done to some extent.

I’ve got to agree with the earlier poster that points out the tents generally present a cleaner image than stacks of sloppily-stowed bedrolls.


mike turco October 26, 2011 at 6:44 pm

I am wondering, who paid for the new tents? Was it union money?


cat October 27, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Don’t these people have to go to work (or look for work)
or go to school.. I have never seen a protest that was just ongoing……
Even when we protested the vietnam war in the “60’s” it was done on the weekends
or on (ONE) certain day — BECAUSE we were going to school and had classes or
we had part time jobs to PAY FOR our college — so we could not just camp out for
days on end. I am all for free speech and protests but this is getting crazy. The parks & or streets were these are being held on, also belong to the rest of the public.
From what I have read you don’t even have a clear message..
Right now I think you are just making a nusince of yourselves.


Patty Jones October 27, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Many of the Occupy protesters do work and/or go to school and support the occupation when they can.

These are not the ’60’s. A part time job won’t pay the average college tuition. We have been home. We have gotten organized and we’ve tried to make a difference. Weekend protests haven’t gotten us anywhere.


annagrace October 27, 2011 at 2:03 pm

I too am all for free speech and protests, which is why I will not follow that statement with “but.” The power of the Occupy movement is largely because it is an occupation as opposed to a one shot rally or demonstration. The latter- rallies and demonstrations – haven’t gotten us very far in terms of addressing income inequality, ending the wars etc. that is why we are occupying. For those of us that want to challenge and change the status quo, the Occupy Wall Street movement is making a difference. Unsurprisingly, that challenge causes great discomfort among many of us.
We have conveniently whitewashed from our collective consciousness the “discomforts” caused when whole segments of an aggrieved citizenry took to the streets and installed themselves in public spaces. The civil rights movement in the 60’s immediately comes to mind, as well as the occupation of the Bonus Army in 1932.
Cat- I hope you check out this archival record about the Bonus Army encampment in our capitol. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWvCCxOUsM8 Maybe it will change your mind about what is crazy.


cat October 28, 2011 at 9:08 am

Well, 1st of all the bonus army in “1932” those vets were given Bonus promises from the govt. they came home from WWI and no one had a job for 3-4 years.
They “HAD” to leave their homes in order to GET to Washington…. Terrible how the govt. handled it — But I do not see how it compares to you.
They had a specific reason for their march and camping was because transportation was limited in those times.
And as far as the civil rights movement they too had a specific cause and that was equality for black americans — they did not “camp” anywhere — the civil rights movement started in 1954-55 – with Rosa Parks (brave Lady) and continued to martin luther’s speech on March 28th 1963 (1 day march)
lots of battles for back america to fight back then — from brown vs board of education to “freedom riders” and other “Protests”
Took almost 10 years to “change” things.
So, I go back to “what” are your demands ??? They are still unclear….
And NOTHING changes overnite.
You are costing San Diego & other cities lots of money and no one has said WHAT the message is. Again, what do you hope to accomplish ?????


Burkey October 27, 2011 at 4:25 pm

The Bonus Army….that didn’t end well, did it?

I like what the Artist said. Make the occupation a beautiful thing—as wonderful to look at as possible.
I’ve certainly been cheered by it. Thanks guys for being there.


annagrace October 27, 2011 at 5:49 pm

The Bonus Army did not end well. They had been receiving food on site through the federal government, but the bill in Congress at the time to continue the supply of food was not passed. Then MacArthur came in with troops, fired gas into the crowd and torched the tents. The occupiers themselves had been peaceful and resolute. The violence came at the hands of the military and Hoover.


Larry Boatman October 28, 2011 at 7:36 am

As a Vietnam veteran, and then a person testifying for (the meaning of protest, after all) alternatives to the Vietnam War, and now a supporter of Veterans for Peace, I take the suggestion of Stephane Hessel – to return to the values of the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights (for which so many veterans fought during WW II) as the foundation from which to become outraged as the financial war being waged by the 1% against the 99% continues to take its toll. To proclaim again that 1) “disregard and contempt for human rights [by the 1%] have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind” and 2) “the highest aspiration of the common people [the 99%] . . . [is] the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want”!


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