Tucson Progressive

Pamela Powers, a progressive voice for Arizona

Freedom of assembly ENDANGERED in Tucson: Call Mayor & Council today (video)

Tucson’s Mayor, City Council, and police have been taking a somewhat passive aggressive approach to the Occupy Tucson movement.

As reported in the Arizona Daily Star, 53 people were arrested in Armory Park on Saturday night, the first day of the occupation. Tucson Police have been using an anti-vagrancy law to ticket protesters who stay in the park over night.

Before the Occupation began, Occupy Tucson organizers called several City Council members and asked for their help with park permits and the 10:30 p.m. park closure ordinance. These calls primarily fell on deaf ears. The Council members who bothered to call the Occupiers back said their “hands were tied.” At least one council member warned the protesters that Parks and Recreation may turn the sprinklers on the overnight protesters.

Now Occupy Tucson organizers are asking for your help with Tucson’s Mayor and Council, who have a meeting tonight.

On facebook, they are organizing a march from Armory Park to the Mayor and Council Chambers. Check out this facebook event or show up at 4:30 p.m. at Armory Park.

Here is a release from the Occupy Tucson movement.

The City of Tucson has chosen to deny the peoples right to peaceful assembly as guaranteed by both the US and Arizona Constitutions. They’re doing so by using a city ordinance written as a measure that prevents the homeless from living in the parks. That form of enforcement of a local issue is not required when applied to a political protest as it prevents a peaceful assembly for the common good.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” – US First Amendment, Bill Of Rights

“The right of petition, and of the people peaceably to assemble for the common good, shall never be abridged.” – Arizona Constitution, Article 2 Section 5 [Note that under this section, camping in the park because you are homeless (for personal gain) might be illegal, but for the common good (political protest) it is a protected activity]

The Arizona Daily Star reported 53 citizens given citations and charged with vagrancy last Saturday night as they stood up for their First Amendment right to peacefully assemble at the Occupy Tucson event at Amory Park. Included was philanthropist Peggy Hitchcock. Peggy had to search for a police officer willing to give her a citation once they realized who she was. Also, given citations were:

* Mary DeCamp, Green Party activist and candidate for Tucson ’s mayor;

* Arlene Leaf, local small business owner and activist;

* Jon McLanne, one of the Occupy Tucson organizers;

* John R Brakey, election integrity activist and many more.

The encounter between the Tucson Police Department and the peaceful assembly of citizens was a model of civility with mutual respect and good communication appreciated by both sides. This is in contrast to what happened in Phoenix where people were sprayed with pepper spray and forcefully arrested as they said “we love you” to the Police. (must see video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_ZS9EqjE90

The Tucson Police used a velvet glove approach to the assembly here. They are doing “catch and release” ticketing of anyone in the park after hours (10:30pm-7am). The Tucson Police gave criminal citations knowing they will be challenged in the courts and at the city council.

As civil as everything is the Tucson Police will continue giving criminal citations on a nightly basis. It is the hope of the citizens that this is not a strategy to financially intimidate the peacefully assembled citizens to interfere with their rights to assemble for the common good.

There is a sense of urgency for the City Council to quickly address this issue by putting it on the agenda for the Tuesday Oct.18 meeting (5:30 pm at City Council Chambers). Arguments will be presented to acknowledge the importance of not abridging Arizona and Federal constitutional law. A number of people who were cited have asked Attorney Bill Risner to speak on their behalf. Others are encouraged to speak also.

Since agenda items must be posted prior to the meeting, people are urged to call the Mayor and City Council Members immediately to make this request.

Link to members and numbers can be found by clicking on the below here: http://cms3.tucsonaz.gov/citygov

You can also find their information below.

Regina Romero – city council Ward 1
Phone: (520) 791-4040 Email: regina.romero@tucsonaz.gov

Paul Cunningham – city council Ward Two
Phone: (520) 791-4687 Paul.Cunningham@tucsonaz.gov

Karin Uhlich – Vice Mayor and city council Ward III
Phone: (520) 791-4711 Email: karin.uhlich@tucsonaz.gov

Shirley Scott – city council Ward IV
Phone: (520) 791-3199 E-Mail: ward4@tucsonaz.gov

Richard Fimbres – city council Ward V
Phone: (520) 791-4231 Richard.Fimbres@tucsonaz.gov

Steve Kozachik – city council Ward VI
Phone: (520) 791-4601 E-Mail: Steve.Kozachik@tucsonaz.gov

Mayor Bob Walkup
Phone: (520) 791-4201 mayor1@tucsonaz.gov

15 comments on “Freedom of assembly ENDANGERED in Tucson: Call Mayor & Council today (video)

  1. dollarshort
    October 18, 2011

    Could we get the people involved in this political game to support the tax payers, so we do not have to pay taxes to support the people who do not pay taxes? The city is nonfunctional beyond political agendas.  


  2. Carolyn Classen
    October 18, 2011

    At last night’s LWVGT/PCTWC all candidate forum, a question was asked about the Occupy Tucson citations.  Councilwoman Scott took a hard stance on rule enforcement, saying that many of the protesters were “outsiders” of Tucson. Councilwoman Romero was more supportive of freedom of assembly and speech, saying it was the responsiblity of TPD and the City Parks Department.  Green candidate Mary DeCamp (who has been cited) declined to comment last night.  Jon McLane (not McLanne) mentioned above is the Green Party candidate who announced for Mayor in the Spring, then had to withdraw due to residency problems.


  3. downing
    October 18, 2011

    With a single Wall Street insider making 4 Billion a year and vast unemployment, whose purpose does it serve to squelch the voices of frustration?  Councilmen don’t need to sound like Russell – “what don’t you understand about illegal” – Pearce.  

    These are exceptional times and the laws being deployed were not meant to limit free speech.  Chill out, Councilmen and Councilwomen.  There are thousands of formerly middle-class Tucsonans on the financial edge and fighting to keep their homes from the greed gorillas. They are not downtown, but feel the same frustrations.  I suggest we designate an entire area of city property downtown for sustained public protests  – a freedom park –  until this country is ruled by the consent of the governed. Lord knows we have enough vacant city land.

    Ted Downing 


    • Pamela Powers
      October 18, 2011

      A good friend of mine suggested the Occupy Tucson protesters move to the vacant Bourne property on Congress St., since it’s empty. The city tore down the building that was there, and Bourne Properties was supposed to develop it. Years later, the property sits vacant, Bourne welched on the deal, and the city has not held Borne responsible. The property is a symbol of corporate greed and the ineptitude of city government to deal effectively with developers.


      • Roy Warden
        October 18, 2011

        Why move? The Occupiers are entitled, as a matter of right and law, to occupy public property, which after all, does belong to We the People!

        Roy Warden 


    • usmctrucker
      October 18, 2011

      Who made $4 Billion?


    • Roy Warden
      October 19, 2011

      Dear Mr. Downing:

      Excuse me, but you don’t need to designate a park for these folks to gather in and speak, because their collective cause just happens to resonate with you.

      It’s called freedom of political  speech and it’s their right–whether they are one or one hundred million–and whether or not the community agrees or disagrees with their message. They can exercise their right in whatever park they please.

      Roy Warden


  4. Roy Warden
    October 18, 2011

    It is well within the Mayor and Council’s discretion to void all the citations and allow the Occupy Tucson movement to continue their activities on public property, unimpeded.  If those arrested ever got themselves to the Arizona Supreme Court or The U.S. Supreme Court, the court would rule that the “occupation” of Tucson public property is a symbolic act protected by the First Amendment, irrespective of the local ordinances banning overnight stays in the park.

    So, Mayor and Council, Give It Up!   


    • Pamela Powers
      October 18, 2011



  5. Roy Warden
    October 18, 2011

    I forgot to add: None of you were worried about freedom of speech and assembly when the police kept arresting me, again and again, for shouting “Viva Zapata!” and burning Mexican Flags to expose the corruption of Tucson City Open Border Policy, which has led to over 5,000 deaths in the Arizona desert over the past several decades, and the  financial & political exploitation of Mexico’s poor.

    All of you, conservatives and liberals alike were so invested in Open Border Policy you didn’t give a rat’s patootie about rights of free speech, did you?

    And you in the media were smug little propagandists as you painted me as a “White Supremicist,” even while you promoted the noxious, racist  doctrine of La Raza: “To those Of the Race, Everything! To those Outside the Race, Nothing!”  

    Well, guess what? I’ve got the moxie, and the huevos,  to help the Occupy Tucson  folks continue on with their protest, in spite of the Mayor and Council, while the rest of you wring your hands and complain.

    Roy Warden


  6. Larry Sakin
    October 18, 2011

    There will soon come a time when our so-called constitutional freedoms will only be available through our credit card numbers. The democratic ideals of our forefathers are being replaced by the pressing needs of commerce. Both political parties encourage this cowardly new world, as our timid mayor and council prove.

    Once Occupy Tucson puts up campaign money for city politicians the movement will be undisturbed by police. Until then, catch and release will be the game of choice.


    October 18, 2011

    Throw a net over them


  8. Carolyn Classen
    October 19, 2011
    • Pamela Powers
      October 19, 2011

      Thanks for the link, Carolyn. Too bad the Star didn’t print a few photos. Hello, AZ Star editors? 100+ people show up at a City Council meeting, and you don’t run this on page 1 with a photo? I had planned to go and shoot some video but had to work late.


  9. alohapuna
    October 20, 2011

    Pam, that’s because the front page of the Az Daily Star is primarily for UA sports events. Actual news, however relevant, is not their top priority.
    When former Gov. Ann Richards, a national figure, passed away,  we were luck to find a brief column on page 7.


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The Tucson Progressive: Pamela J. Powers

I stand on the side of Love. I believe in kindness to all creatures on Earth and the inherent self-worth of all individuals–not just people who agree with me or look like me.

Widespread economic and social injustice prompted me to become a candidate for the Arizona House, representing Legislative District 9 in the 2016 election.

My platform focused on economic reforms to grow Arizona’s economy, establish a state-based public bank, fix our infrastructure, fully fund public education, grow local small businesses and community banks, and put people back to work at good-paying jobs.

In the Arizona House, I was a strong voice for fiscal responsibility a moratorium on corporate tax breaks until the schools were fully funded, increased cash assistance to the poor, expansion of maternal healthcare benefits, equal rights, choice, unions, education at all levels and protecting our water supply.

After three terms, I retired from the Arizona Legislature in January 2023 but will continue to blog and produce my podcast “A View from the Left Side.”

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