Tucson Progressive

Pamela Powers, a progressive voice for Arizona

Who is occupying Tucson?

At Monday’s Mayor and City Council candidate forum, City Council Member Shirley Scott dismissed Occupy Tucson, saying that the protesters were just a bunch of rabble-rousers from out of town.

Shirley, honey, lend an ear. Tucson has the highest rate of poverty of any city in the sunbelt. There are not enough local business owners to re-elect you; you are going to need some of the rest of us– some of the unemployed and underemployed– to check your name on the upcoming ballot to retain your seat on the City Council. Shirley, your constituents are the 99%– not the 1%. Your constituents are at Armory Park.

The above loneprotestor video accurately shows the wide cross section of people occupying Tucson’s Armory Park. Yes, in the video, you will see old hippies and college students, but there are also young mothers and babies, union members, nurses, teachers, retirees, unemployed workers, political activists, a Congressman, a mayoral candidate, even a certain progressive blogger– in other words, the 99%.

At Tuesday night’s City Council Meeting, Shirley and others had the opportunity to be up close and personal with 100+ supporters of Occupy Tucson. From the Tucson Weekly

Old and young dressed in everything from jeans and sweaty T-shirts to full suits came to address Tucson’s council, mostly about Occupy Tucson, the Occupy Wall Street affiliated event that began Oct. 15 at Armory Park.

Their main gripe against the city were 109 citations protestors received Saturday through Monday, according to TPD, for staying at the park “after hours,” in this case after 10:30 p.m., which is a criminal trespassing violation under city code.

According to a press release sent out by Occupy Tucson itself, their demands were clear: “waive or reduce the citation fines levied against protestors,” it said.

“The cost every night to keep citing people is going to bankrupt you, I just hope you guys know that,” said protester Phillip Benoit during the call to the audience.

Benoit and many more spoke for almost two hours at the meeting for three minutes each, invoking the words of icons like Albert Einstein and Thomas Jefferson, and with topics ranging from corporate greed to water rights to the legacy of the unborn to crippling debt. But the Occupy Tucson crew rallied around one central idea—their right to free speech.

It often got personal.

“We gather not to cause trouble but to share our troubles with the rest of the 99 percent—which includes you,” said Kristina Ruiz.

“How will your descendents speak about you?” Michael Migliore asked the council.

Even calls of “shame on you!” were applauded by the group, though raucous applause often dwindled to jazz-hands-style finger waving during speeches to show approval.

Since there was nothing on the agenda about the citations, council members couldn’t act on what was discussed. Instead, they listened quietly to every individual with state-prescribed stoicism—though an occasional nod, raised eyebrow, or smile escaped the faces of several members and the mayor himself.

Overall, this was a particularly rowdy council meeting, with cheers and applause breaking out after most speakers. The energy was palpable. The crowd was particularly energized by the words of 62-year-old Margie King, a Tucsonan who has spent years in China teaching U.S. History.

“The American government supported the Tiananmen Square movement after 10:30 at night,” King said to cheers. “The American government supported protests in the middle east after 10:30 at night!”

After the call to the audience was adjourned, the group reassembled in front of City Hall, and a cry of—“To Armory Park!” could be heard in the crowd. [emphasis added]

6 comments on “Who is occupying Tucson?

  1. Carolyn Classen
    October 19, 2011

    Pam, I recognized a # of people I know on this video including Congressman Raul Grijalva, Green Mayoral candidate Mary DeCamp, a friend Jim from a Buddhist meditation group, products by Gloo Factory owner Dwight Metzler, Alex Maldonado (who quoted in today’s Tucson Weekly article).  I dropped by at Occupy Tucson (at 1 p.m.) and about 50 people were there including Green activists Dave Croteau & Jon McLane, Libertarian activist Jim March.  Looked like 25 tents are camped there.   Attorney Bill Risner was on the John C. Scott radio show today talking about freedom of assembly & speech. Keep posting updates.


  2. Jim Hannley
    October 19, 2011

    A wonderful, wonderful video and a great story, Pamela. Here is the visual evidence of the depth and breadth of this gathering. The Tucson Mayor and Council should sponsor Occupy Tucson. For decades they have presided over a city of economic stagnation. The fact that Tucson now is has the highest poverty rate of any city in the Sunbelt is a disgrace. It should be laid at the feet of the Mayor and Council, the Metro Chamber of Commerce, TREO, the Tucson Visitors and Convention Bureau and others. We need economic justice for our city. The Nation’s rich and corporations are awash in cash. They have no plans for investing in new plant and equipment nor National infrastructure. The “Occupy” movement focuses squarely on this issue. This “street heat” will bolster efforts to reform the tax code and get this idle capital working and end the economic stagnation which is causing so much misery and unrest in our country.


    • Pamela Powers
      October 20, 2011

      Yes, I think loneprotestor’s video is the answer song to Shirley Scott and the commenters here on the Citizen who make disparaging comments about the Occupiers. Who are they? They are your friends and neighbors– the 99%.


  3. tiponeill
    October 20, 2011

    Just got mail from Shirley asking for contributions – in the trash.



    October 20, 2011

    Turn on the sprinklers, boys- They need it bad.


  5. John Atnip
    October 24, 2011

    With comments such as Shirley Scotts and other politicians regarding the occupy movement across the country I am increasing the number of politicians on my No More Incumbents list. It is very telling from their comments that they don’t get it and we need to get rid of them and vote for people that we think will represent us and not their political parties.  Apparently protesters in other countries are leaders, intellectuals and are praised by our politicians but protesters in our country are rabble rousers, losers and troublemakers and need to be silenced and  removed from public view. No More Incumbents, no more party line voting, no more partisan politicians—lets take our country back at the polling booth. 


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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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