Occupy San Diego InterOccupy Conference – Activists Converge on Democratic Convention

by on February 12, 2012 · 10 comments

in Civil Rights, Organizing, Popular, San Diego

Occupy San Diego and Occupy activists from all over Southern California gathered to protest the National Defense Authorization Act in front of the Democratic Convention in San Diego on Saturday, February 11, 2012. Photos by Ben Cossel

By Eugene Davidovich

After a busy morning, participants in the Occupy San Diego InterOccupy Conference arrived at Children’s Park. News reporters from CW6, as well as other local media outlets, converged in anticipation of the protesters’ arrival and a planned action to take place at the San Diego Convention Center.

Frank Gromlie of Save The Bill of Rights group and Occupy San Diego took the bullhorn and spoke about the dangers of the National Defense Authorization Act recently passed Congress and signed into law by the president.

He explained the government can now indefinitely detain U.S. citizens without trial, judge or jury for simply being dissenters. He went on to talk about how the bill limits U.S. citizen’s rights to a fair trial, free speech, and  pointed out that both the Democratic and Republican party failed their constituents by allowing such a draconian measure to pass.

“This act, guts the Bill of Rights as well as the first, sixth, and eighth amendment of the Constitution.” Gromlie said. “Local politicians all voted for this bill, we now have an emergency in this country and this act must be repealed!” The crowds cheered in agreement.

By this time, the crowd at the park had grown from the original 50 to more than 100 people ready to take action and make their voices heard.

The march began with another zig-zag maneuver through the Gaslamp quarter in downtown San Diego after which the crowd began headed toward the Convention Center where the Democratic Party was holding their state convention.

Restore the Bill of Rights, Repeal the NDAA

The protesters slowly marched down Harbor Dr. directly across the street from the Convention Center holding a giant 4′ x 30′ banner that said “Restore the Bill of Rights, Repeal NDAA” and were heard chanting, “NDAA, took our civil rights away,” as well as, “when public services are under attack, we get no help from the Democrats.”

Attendees at the California Democratic Party Convention looked in surprise as the protesters poured into the convention center. Security and the San Diego Police Department scrambled as many officers as they could to converge onto the entrance of exhibit Hall C where the majority of the convention events were taking place.

Across the street from the center, protesters were joined by a bus load from Occupy Los Angeles. The groups merged into one with cheers of solidarity, slowly crossing the street. Captain Jones of the SDPD was seen running around the crowd in circles telling people not to cross the street on a red light. His attempts failed as once the group began to cross, taking at least three cycles of the stop light until everyone made it onto the other side of the street.

Slowly but surely the crowd filled the sidewalk area in front of the entrance to exhibit Hall C chanting “Democrats come out, we have some shit to talk about.”

By 1:00p.m. 150 protesters assembled in front of the entrance to the Exhibit Hall. With signs against the windows and their voices carrying for blocks, Occupy voiced their grievances with the party.

Delegates from across the state as well and other convention goers walked in and out of the building through the chants and picket line. After a while several came out to address the crowd, discussing protesters’ grievances.

Richard Hall, one of the delegates attending the convention called for a people’s mic and shouted, “I am with you, when the protesters are being abused in Oakland where is our Governor Jerry Brown, when the protesters are being maced in D.C., where is Obama?”

Not all the delegates were as supportive as Hall, Tom P. Brown, engaged in a passionate debate with Holly of Occupy San Diego, claimed that the Democratic party was, in fact, on the protesters side and they just weren’t perfect, but were good enough. He explained that the protesters should not be protesting the Democratic party, rather the corporations and the 1 percent.

Holly explained to Hall that both parties had failed the public and, Democrats, while claiming to support Occupy, were voting in draconian measures such as the National Defense Authorization Act and attempting to co-opt the movement rather then trying to fix the failed system.

The rally continued until 1:30p.m. when protesters assembled into march formation and headed toward Balboa Park where lunch as well as the General Assembly took place.

The GA started at 4p.m. and began with a general discussion. The main topic of discussion was actions different occupations can collaborate on in the future as well as the next InterOccupy conference location.

Following the general discussion, the larger group broke into smaller work-groups discussing similar topics in greater detail. While the discussions were taking place, hot dogs, veggie burgers, chilli and grilled vegetables were served. Children played, ideas were exchanged and a movement was strengthened.


{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

dowrong February 12, 2012 at 2:12 pm

A day late and a dollar short, I was writing Congress and Senators long before Obama pass the NDAA Oh hey now guess what, you get your wrist veins scanned for Identification, I was shocked, blown away! Now they can tell just who you are by a scan.

Our privacy and rights are down the toilet.


Lois February 12, 2012 at 3:49 pm

FRANK: When I spoke at the Susan Davis protest, I am not sure I presented it in a way that could be understood because of my anxiety of public speaking. What I was trying to say was “I escaped Gitmo.” That is, If this law was in effect when I was theatened by the CEO of ………. County Detention Center in …….. who said “how dare you write up your fellow employees?” Fellow employees being negligent for the lives they were entrusted to care for? I then worked a temp job in another adjacent facility and with the help of the above Detention Center, these members got together, put drugs in my purse in the medicine room, and called the police and had me arrested. If these people had no concern or did not value human life then, possibly I would not s have been seen or heard of again. You know the old cliche “suspicions.” As it turned out, the mom who used to bake cookies and made gingerbread houses WAS ARRESTED! My kids never knew about it. It took a long time for me to get over it, and the cops were really on my side. Funny, how the drugs were lost at the court hearing. Thanks in part for the help of these cops, and others, I was not charged. My nursing license was taken by the Maryland Board of Nursing, pending “my confession.” I had to work particulary hard to get my nursing license back here in California where I had it originally. All I could think about was a song by Bob Seger, “In your time, innocense will fade away.” Seeing the brutality at Civic Center, I have ambivalent feeling wondering if there is still this working relationship between cops and nurses. I certainly hope so.

There being expressions on the internet of situations like “nazi germany” as a way to express outrage and pain delivered by the Government, I think. But let me tell you, that was the second most feared thing that had happened to me in my life. To have your freedom taken from you if you have experienced it is something very hard to explain. I am talking when your freedom is actually taken away. Not the arrests of the sort of protesting. Because I will continue to protest. If you all like, call me “Escaped from Gitmo.”


Lois February 12, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Eugene: As always, always, beautiful journalism. I always look forward to your articles.


xCucusong February 12, 2012 at 4:20 pm

“For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it [is] a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry [land];” (Haggai)


dave rice February 12, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Nice piece, Eugene – you guys really were audible from blocks away – I was late getting back to the convention after lunch and heard you guys literally a block and a half away.

One would expect a little more attention from the crowd, though the afternoon session was already getting underway…not sure if you had anyone inside watching, but there were a healthy dose of montages featuring Occupy and 99% imagery playing on the big screens and rousing plenty of self-congratulatory cheers in the convention hall.


Terrie Best February 12, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Awesome. Thanks for the great reporting, Eugene!


Thomas Brown February 12, 2012 at 10:21 pm


Thanks for mentioning me in your write up. In addition to what you report about the passionate chat Holly and I had on Saturday, please know that I love you guys and hope you keep doing what you’re doing.

Despite the short comings of Democratic politicians in Washington, the rank and file delegates at that convention center cheered you on. Some delegates inside the big hall commented about the irony of having such a big police presence in front of the convention center since there were already a whole bunch of Occupy protesters inside the hall. As to that video with montages featuring Occupy and 99% imagery playing on the big screen, those montages did provoke cheers, but not of the self-congratulatory kind. You can judge for yourself here:
Go Occupy!
Tom Brown


rick trujillo February 12, 2012 at 11:15 pm

Occupy, throughout the nation, remains, an embryonic form, not six months old, an independent alternative to the to the toxic swamp of american 2 party politiks. Some of it (the swamp) slithered and oozed it’s way into the SD convention center (not all are criminals but certainly most of the faithful from diane, nancy, burton, jerry on down). Lip service, glimpses, bites of the truth, a la Occupy, is/was not hard to figure, the show does go on and how else to orchestrate a lie?
Was there a sentence from any speech that anyone will remember or cause meaningful lasting change? Most, even large d-party registered, could care less about the state convention. All the same, history will remember the protesters. They distinguished themselves.
Those attending the agenda inside had every right to attend–but they should spend, don’t ya think, their time starting their own, occupy the d-party, instead of attempting to co-opt, reeducate and convince independents of how to win freedom and liberation from …..what’s the word? Oh, yes the “democracy” as laid down by the 1% and their cops. Q…. do nurses have a special relationship with victims of cop violence ie Oscar Grant?


Thomas Brown February 13, 2012 at 12:22 am

Rick, most of us who go the Democratic convention don’t go for the speeches and, in fact, are sometimes in direct opposition to the party leadership on grassroots issues. Here in San Francisco, literally thousands of occupy supporters show up regularly to march and demonstrate in rallies for causes like the 28th amendment, stopping police brutality, stopping bank foreclosures and jailing the banksters. When we’re doing these things, we’re not even thinking about partisan politics. Occupy is a social movement which transcends party labels and I think it will be most effective if it continues to maintain a healthy distance from partisan politics.

The power of the Occupy message is that it focuses on economic justice for the 99% and the corrupting influence of money in politics. It sounds like you favor having multiple parties (such as the parliamentary system) and I respect that point of view. Or perhaps you favor no parties at all. In any case, if Occupy abandons it’s call to get money out of politics and replaces that with attacks against this or that political party because those parties are influenced by corporate money (of course they are), then much of the strength of the original Occupy message will be lost IMHO.


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