Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
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: email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Shirley Scott – city council Ward IV
Phone: (520) 791-3199 E-Mail: email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org