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Occupy Tucson

Dozens more Occupiers arrested this week

Tucson police handed out over 70 more citations to Occupy Tucson demonstrators this week, after protesters declined to leave downtown parks overnight.

Wednesday night, 20 demonstrators were cited and released—12 at Armory Park and 8 at Veinte de Agosto Park—after they remained in the parks after the 10:30 p.m. closing time, said a Tucson Police Department spokesman.

Monday, 11 protesters were arrested at Armory Park, and 12 at Veinte de Agosto Park, TPD Sgt. Matt Ronstadt said. Three were cited at both parks.

Tuesday, 28 were arrested at Armory Park, and 8 at Veinte de Agosto Park. Ronstadt couldn't say if there were any who were cited at both parks that night.

Earlier Tuesday, the City Council told police and Parks and  Recreation Department staff to continue to enforce the closing time.

After meeting in a lengthy executive session to hear legal advice, the council discussed Occupy Tucson at its afternoon study session.

Police were told to continue to arrest, cite, and field release demonstrators.

Enforcing the park closing time has cost the city about $36,000 in overtime for police, TPD Chief Roberto Villaseñor told the council. Over 300 had been arrested up to that time, he said.

But, by releasing protesters after giving them a ticket, instead of booking them into the county jail, the city has saved about $71,000, he said. The county charges the city about $225 for a first-day arrestee. The city has also saved on transportation costs, and is shifting schedules to account for the ongoing enforcement effort, Villaseñor said.

The protesters face a maximum $1,000 fine for violating the park closing rules, a misdemeanor, but many of those arrested for trespassing at unrelated Tucson demonstrations in the past have seen their charges dismissed.

Wednesday, the first group of protesters had their court dates moved to Nov. 17.

At the call to the audience at last week's City Council meeting, some protesters asked the city to waive enforcing the ordinance against remaining in the park after it's 10:30 p.m. closure.

Council members declined to do so, citing concerns about unequal treatment of different groups.

City Attorney Mike Rankin told council members that content-neutral restrictions on the time and place citizens may assemble are constitutional. Waiving the rules for Occupy protesters would open the city to claims by other groups, he said.

The city's enforcement effort has been "respectful and dignified," interim City Manager Richard Miranda told the council.

The city requires permits and liability insurance for events in municipal parks. Occupy Tucson organizers have declined to obtain a city permit or insurance coverage.

If demonstrators persist, the Occupation will conflict with other events who have paid for permits at Armory Park, including the Nov. 5 Procession of Little Angels, and El Tour de Tucson the weekend of Nov. 19.

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3 comments on this story

Oct 27, 2011, 2:21 pm
-1 +0

@Dylan Smith

Wow, looks as if I have to eat a little crow…but just a little. I could swear I remember Grijalva voting for that. I guess I was just so used to Grijalva being so anti-capitalist and anti-American that I couldn’t even fathom him making a correct vote on anything. Even though I’m embarrassed, I’m not being too hard on myself given whom we’re talking about here. I guess even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.

Good job Grijalva…but just on that one vote.

Now, back to my preaching to the flea party…

I still maintain that the flea party is protesting the very society that they more than anyone else helped to create. Elections have consequences, so does where you choose to spend your money.

If the majority continues to be mindless drones voting party line or skin color, or just buying something because it’s “cheaper” (like cars) without considering other factors, or running themselves into endless debt living beyond their means, or paying much more for something then they know it should cost (like a house), then things are going to indefinitely continue down the same path that they have gone down for a while now. Nothing is going to change.

Sleeping in the park isn’t going to change a damn thing…except the condition of the park. Make your thoughts known at the ballot box, and where you decide to spend your money. That’s where the power is. If you think you can do a better job than the current elected officials…then run for office yourself. Get involved. Instead of asking others to make things better, perhaps you yourself can make them better.

Ghandi told us we should be the change we want to see in the world. He was absolutely right. You can’t control other people’s behavior, but you can control your own.

-Think before you vote, and vote your conscience, not race, party, or “chances of winning”
-Spend your money ethically, and always buy American made/supported products when you have that option, even when it costs you a few bucks more
-Don’t live beyond your means, and learn the different between need and want.
-Improve yourself, and wrap your head around the fact that if you want a better life, you have to work for it. Stop asking people to hand stuff to you. Go work, take pride in something, and contribute positively to the world around you. Investing in yourself is always worthwhile, whether you’re talking about time or money. Just like with anything in this world, what you put in to something is what you get out of it. No where is that more true then when you’re talking about yourself. Get out of the park and work on improving your life.

Yeah, corporate America does currently wield unreasonable power. I’m not arguing that at all. However, they have that power for one reason…idiots like the flea party gave it to them!

Oct 27, 2011, 10:41 am
-0 +0

@Bret Linden

While Rep. Giffords voted for 2008’s Public Law 110-343 (the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP), Rep. Grijalva voted against it.

Both Southern Arizona Democrats voted with the majority to pass the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the “stimulus”).

Oct 27, 2011, 10:28 am
-3 +1

I hadn’t seen much about the flea party the past couple of days. I was hoping this was an indicator of mass media correctly losing interest in this non-story, oh well. :( However, this is still infinitely more interesting than how many times Gabby Giffords went to the restroom today and the mass-media’s incredible resolve to ignore the lack of representation in CD8…

I’ve watched some of the YouTube videos of Occupy Tucson. All I see are dirty hippies who remind me why I stay away from Fourth Avenue. The flea party has, in my estimation, to date have clearly articulated only one demand…they don’t want to be cited any more. OK, go home then. Problem solved. It would be so much easier for me to sympathize with their right to free speech if they would actually SAY something!

One of my favorite videos was the one where Raul Grijalva showed up (and promptly left once he discovered the event wasn’t catered). A lot of the Flea Party has been saying they didn’t like corporate bailouts. Well, neither did I. OK, well, guess who one of the idiots was that voted for that? Duh! And I’d wager a large amount of money that most of the flea party crowd that bothers to vote reelected one of our Tucson-area Congressional idiots, both of whom voted for the corporate bailouts. Is the flea party that hypocritical, or just that stupid?

Their arrogance saying they speak for the 99% is appalling. They don’t speak for me. They don’t represent me. Based on the videos I saw on YouTube, there isn’t one person I’ve seen whom I could see myself respecting or relating to in any way.

I am one of the 53%...the 53% that pays taxes and doesn’t have it all refunded to me at the end of the year. How many members of the flea party are part of that 53%

Advice to the flea party: if you want to be respected and taken seriously, work on clearly articulating what it is your upset about, and work on what you propose the solutions are. Complaining for complaining’s sake is absolutely futile.

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Will Seberger/TucsonSentinel.com

Occupy Tucson protesters kicked off their demonstration on Oct. 15.