Occupy Tucson sets up camp at DeAnza Park
Protesters next to, but not in park overnight
Occupy Tucson members set up tents in DeAnza Park, just north of downtown, Thursday night.
Rather, they set up just outside the park, so as to not run afoul of laws that prohibit overnight stays in city parks.
About 20 police officers patrolled the park as it closed at 10:30 p.m., ensuring that none of the 20-some demonstrators were inside the park boundary.
Tucson now has the longest-running uninterrupted anti-corporate protest in the nation, organizer Dave Croteau said.
"We're still here, and we have an encampment again," he said. "Portland, New York, they've been moved out. We're still going."
Although protesters were evicted from Veinte de Agosto Park downtown in late December, they've continued their protest on the sidewalk since, and occupied the park during daylight, Croteau said.
Occupy Tucson began Oct. 15 when demonstrators set up tents in Armory Park on South 6th Avenue. Police evicted them from that park in November.
The Occupiers are now on more solid ground, protesters said Thursday.
Rather than setting up their tents in the park, they're pitched on a city-owned easement next to it, and thus not covered by the park curfew law.
When the city added a right-turn lane on North Stone Avenue at Speedway about a decade ago, the stone wall marking the western edge of DeAnza Park was moved, leaving a 20-foot stretch between the roadway and the park boundary.
Many of the Occupy Tucson protesters are more interested in community outreach and getting across their message of social change, rather than continuing to rack up citations for being in parks overnight, Croteau said.
"There are 7,000 homeless in Tucson. We want to bring attention to problems like that, not spend a day in jail," he said.
About 20 Occupiers remained at DeAnza as police departed about 11:15 p.m. Many said they intended to remain overnight, despite the chilly weather.
The initial encampment attracted large groups of protesters, with dozens sometimes being cited for remaining in the park. After the move to Veinte de Agosto, which coincided with the onset of winter weather, the number arrested dropped.
After demonstrators' tents were barred from that park, a handful continued to camp on the sidewalk of Church Avenue. Croteau said they hope to continue parallel demonstrations downtown and at DeAnza Park.