Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
This is the second post in a series of personal accounts from the Occupation of Tucson. [Emphasis added.]
Oct. 25: Notes from the Occupation
By Mary DeCamp
Tea Party events that use city property have a beginning time and an end time – the Occupy Movement does not. We are exercising our first amendment rights to peaceably assemble, to petition our government, and to challenge the fascism that has crept in and taken over. If we followed the rules, we would not be news and the media would ignore our concerns. Permission from corrupt officials was not a concern for the original Tea Partiers in BostonHarbor, was it? Action was taken after the normal courses of appeal failed. That’s what we are doing today.
Should anyone be hurt, I imagine the same policies that covered the kid who was struck by lightning in a Tucson park last year would apply. The Occupy Tucson movement has a medical team on site, a security team, peace-keepers, food handlers who follow sanitary and safety guidelines, etc. We are much safer, better organized, and less of a risk to the city than a bunch of unorganized homeless. The park is cleaner, safer, and more attractive now than it was before we occupied. We come together as a community to mutually support and police each other. The homeless fringe are in less danger with us there than they are on their own in this cold, cruel, self-interested world. It is a win-win-win.
The City of Tucson is spending an inordinate amount on security and a SWAT presence. I heard someone state it was $35,000 a week. This is bogus and unnecessary. The TPD come and sweep the park, in numbers that began at around 2 dozen officers and now are no less than 9 uniformed cops, equipped with state-of-the-art technological toys. It is a huge waste of taxpayers’ money. We are not vagrants, we are not a danger.
And the laws are unequally applied. Someone circulates through the tents, announcing it is “ticket o’clock” and those who cannot bear the expense of the heavy-handed civil system. Those unwilling to assume the cost (financial, reputation, court time, etc.), simply cross the street and form a prayer circle or wander about until the police leave and then they return to sleep for the night. What other parks are subject to this style of enforcement? Why pick and choose where and when to enforce the law? It seems a hugely unnecessary expense.
Remember, too, that though the State passed the medical marijuana law we still don’t have medical marijuana dispensaries because that violates federal law. Here we are standing for federal law, but we are persecuted for violating a city ordinance. It doesn’t compute.
The most poignant experience I have had during the Occupy Movement is at “ticket o’clock”. Patriots emerge from their slumber, stand sleepily in line to peacefully accept their tickets, and a lone violin player comes to serenade us. The juxtaposition of some slovenly and sleepy citizens, fully uniformed and weaponized policemen (not many women at all), and the lone musician have etched this experience in my brain.
The range of people is amazing. The courage is astounding. The need is great. We are being true to the foundations the Tea Party Movement based itself on, yet we are dismissed as “Flea baggers.” Did you see the picture circulating of our elected US representatives playing computer, anyone? solitaire, checking the sports scores, or using the internet to chat while the budget bill was discussed? It is shocking, and I am proud to be on the other side of the 1% / 99% divide.
Jesus preached compassion and social responsibility. Gandhi said one of the 7 cardinal sins was Wealth Without Work. All religious leaders say that self-interest is insufficient, there must be social responsibility to care for the less fortunate and those who lose out in the competitive culture of a dominant hierarchy. That is all we are doing ~ just following the example of those who have been on the right side of history in the past.
Previous articles in this series:
Oct. 23: Green Tea