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Guest opinion

Occupy Tucson: Open letter to Kozachik & Villaseñor

Dear Councilman Kozachik and Chief Villaseñor,

Recent communications from the Ward 6 Council Office and the Tucson Police Department have pointed to incidents of crime at the Occupy Tucson encampment at Veinte de Agosto Park as justification to evict protesters.

But TPD's own statistics show that during the 46 days of the Occupation at Veinte de Agosto, the downtown crime rate was 20 percent lower as compared to the 46 days before Occupy Tucson established its encampments.

Yes, gentlemen, you're hearing this right: downtown was safer with Occupy Tucson present. Twenty percent safer. This despite the fact that the normally deserted park was full of people. And that many of those people were struggling with mental illness and addiction.

The prevailing narrative about Occupy Tucson is that we haven't accomplished anything. Yet in our 46 days at Veinte de Agosto, we fed and sheltered dozens of our most vulnerable fellow citizens, raised awareness around global and local economic injustice, disrupted home foreclosure auctions, secured three supportive votes from city councilmembers, proudly racked up the Occupy movement's second-highest civil disobedience arrest rate in the country (New York being at the top), and left the park cleaner than we found it. Astonishingly, as we were doing all this work, the crime rate in the neighborhood went down.

Wow. Must have been our beloved Peacekeepers from Veterans for Peace patrolling our perimeter, as well as dozens of eyes looking out for one another. Looks like Occupy Tucson set up a pretty good neighborhood watch.

Councilman Kozachik and Chief Villaseñor, how dare you use the threat of public endangerment against us? How dare you peddle fear to the public as justification to clear out a peaceful protest?

How dare you continue to inject the words "child abuse" and "child molestation" into your newsletters, media interviews and press releases? Steve, your newsletter of December 14 reported the false information that "there was a child molestation inside one of the tents at Occupy Tucson." The clarification you issued a week later was weak and self-serving, and failed to correct the biggest falsehood of all: the implication that our presence was somehow responsible.

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The truth is that we rescued those girls. They had been drinking—one of them was too drunk to walk—and none of us had seen these men before. Before the men disappeared, they admitted to us it was they who had bought the girls alcohol. One of them was in his late forties.

What really happened that night, Councilman Kozachik and Chief Villaseñor, is that we kept those girls warm and safe and called their parents, and prevented what might have been the worst experience of their young lives. Our encampment—that village it takes to raise a child—was there when those girls needed us.

Councilman Kozachik, your clarification also says "there were two incidents, not one," and that the other incident was "an ongoing TPD investigation into 'child abuse' that involves one of the people associated with Occupy Tucson." Chief Villaseñor, you've cited this incident to the press as well.

Seriously, guys? An investigation that involves one of the people associated with Occupy Tucson? Let's assume for a moment you're talking about one of our active organizers rather than, say, one of our 8,000 Facebook supporters or the hundreds of community members who brought us food and other supplies over the course of our Occupation of the parks. There are roughly 200 active organizers, I'd say — people who have participated in working groups, volunteered in the kitchen, served as Peacekepers and regularly attended our General Assemblies. So let me ask you this: what if we took a random sample of 200 people "associated with TPD" or "associated with Ward 6." Do you suppose that among those people there might also be an ongoing investigation or two of child abuse? And how quickly would you respond with indignation that one bad apple was being used to besmirch the whole institution?

Chief, you hid behind the "ongoing investigation" excuse to decline further comment on the incident. Did the alleged incident even occur at Veinte de Agosto, or is this "ongoing investigation" something that happened before this person came to Occupy? It's an abuse of your authority to drop the "child abuse" bomb into the public discourse and let it sit there, unexplained, for public speculation.

As a survivor of child molestation, a girl for whom nobody intervened, I am so offended by your repeated suggestions that Occupy Tucson's presence led to harm against children. It is underhanded and shameful of you both to try to use child abuse against us politically. We are Occupy Tucson, and this village isn't going anywhere.

Shannon Cain is a fiction writer and a writing coach. Her collection of short stories, The Necessity of Certain Behaviors, was awarded the Drue Heinz Literature Prize for 2011.

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Latest comments on this storyRead all 22 »

Dec 29, 2011, 11:45 pm
-0 +0

Decide for yourself, it’s easy.


Dec 28, 2011, 1:57 am
-3 +3


For someone who constantly criticizes my posts, you certainly don’t pay much attention to them. You’re saying that I am drinking the mass-media kool-aid on ANY issue? Really? Are you sure you want to stick to that one?

And speaking of ridiculousness…you’re citing Reheena? Seriously? I thought you guys wanted credibility. Any one anywhere fighting for any cause should do whatever they can to distance themselves from that stark-raving idiot, not attach themselves to her. If Reheeeeeena said that ice cream was good I would question it.

And, believe it or not, I am indeed paying attention. Every couple days or so I get myself caught up on all the youtube videos tagged with “Occupy Tucson”. I will admit, I have seen people interviewed who were intelligent and articulate. And, of those people, one or two of them even made sense to me. However, those intelligent people appear to be the 1% of the Occupy movement. Most people I see on these videos answer questions with “Dave’s not here man” or “I’m just here for the free food”. And, no, I’m not talking about people looking to disparage the movement…I’m talking about idiots like Jon McClane and worse that loneprotestor. No, worse than that…Mary DeCamp.

So, just because I’m calling out the Occupy movement and saying things you don’t want to hear does not mean I’m not paying attention. On the contrary, I know things that the Occupy movement doesn’t want me to know…and many others know, as well.

Dec 27, 2011, 10:07 pm
-1 +3

Bret Linden typed:

But, once they got that attention…(and this is the part I don’t get) they did nothing positive with it, and did nothing of consequence to use the attention to further their cause…whatever the hell that is.

They actually have done a lot with that attention.

One of the things they did with that attention was call out large financial institutions.  As a result of that, the NCUA reported record numbers of new accounts opening.  Personally, we moved our business assets from large banks to the Bank of Tucson and Tucson Federal Credit Union, and councilwoman Regina wants the City to consider moving its funds also.

It seems to me you just aren’t paying attention; you’ve become attached to disparaging the movement based on some casual observations… which, by the way, are the same observations of the Mainstream Media—a large player in the System that wants to totally discredit and see the Occupy movement fail.

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Dylan Smith/TucsonSentinel.com

Tucson police evicted Occupy Tucson demonstrators from Veinte de Agosto park last week.


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