Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
This is the fourth in a series of personal accounts from the Occupation of Tucson. In this letter, Green Party Mayoral Candidate Mary DeCamp addresses accusations made by Tucson right-wing shock jock Jon Justice and Andrew Lee, another radio personality. Justice’s 104.1 website includes the headline: “Occupy Movement Planning Violence?” But, of course, since there hasn’t been any violence locally, there is no local content under that purposefully misleading headline. [Emphasis added below.]
October 30: Notes from the Occupation
by Mary DeCamp
I didn’t get the chance to tell you both [Jon Justice and Andrew Lee] about Occupy Tucson’s experience with threats against police when you shared the info on Occupy Phoenix on your radio program last Friday.
Early on, the same sort of violent propaganda popped up in our Tucson encampment. There was a poster/sign advocating violence against the police. Immediately when it was discovered, the Tucson Police Dept. was notified. One of our tech-savvy people traced the origin of the artwork to a facebook page and turned that information over to the officials for their intervention and action. The perpetrator was NOT one of the Occupiers, but a nighttime visitor, operating under the cloak of darkness, trying to incite unrest. We immediately nipped the problem in the bud.
We have been very cooperative and accommodating with the officials. We are working with the Little Angels on organizing support & volunteers for their upcoming event in Armory Park. Tonight we are meeting with El Tour de Tucson folks to work out whatever accommodations they will need to use the park. We are peaceable people, following the example of our Boston Tea Party forefathers in resisting the oppressive overreach of authority, fraud, and abuse in our day-to-day lives.
People complain that the grass in the park is not getting watered. It is the dormant season and watering is not crucial. Besides, we live in a dessert and we need to STOP WATERING landscaping. Our quantity and our quality of water has dropped precipitously in the past decades and we must take action to preserve our most precious natural resources.
People complain about the cost associated with the Occupation. The taxpayer money spent on policing is being wasted and people should be up in arms about it. It is ridiculous to dispatch fleets of 9 to 24 uniformed officers to ticket us each night. Three would be ample. We all line up to receive our citations, and there have been NO incidents of resistance or violence. We self-police. We actually SAVE the City money by providing much needed social services to the most compromised residents. Occupying these past 2 weeks has really opened my eyes to the numbers of severely mentally ill and homeless people shambling around our streets. Our presence in the park protects them from the ravages of “bum fights”, prostitution, and other indignities they suffer just to scrap together the money they need to survive. We feed and shelter them, just like Jesus would have done. Think of how much money is spent on arresting, prosecuting, defending, incarcerating, and probating Tucson’s most at-risk population. Or the costs of emergency room services that the City has to pick up. We provide preventative measures that SPARE THOSE COSTS. We, the people, are providing services that Big Government and Big Business can’t seem to deliver effectively.
People complain that we are a bunch of lazy hippie kids who don’t want to work. That is not true, either. Our demographics cover a very wide range – we have young, old, illiterate, professionals, black, white, Hispanic, religious, agnostic, gorgeous and ugly – just like any other gathering of human beings. The people in the park want to be engaged meaningfully in Tucson’s social structure. They want to work, but there isn’t work to be had. If you’ve been unemployed for any length of time, you carry a taint that makes employers suspicious and unwilling to hire you. Our society has made poverty a punishable crime.
People complain we don’t have a park permit. Well, right across the street is the Tucson Children’s Museum. Mrs. Walkup sits on their board. They pay $1 a year for their rent. We’re happy to double that and pay $2 a year. Fair enough? [Sounds fair to me.] The permits that are doled out specify a beginning time and an end time for the use of the public facilities. The Occupation does not have a specific end time. We are here for the long haul. It ain’t easy, but I feel it is my patriotic duty to stand for a higher purpose. And the others who are there, willing to assume the risks and burdens of camping out in a public park, share my sentiments.
And if we’re all bent out of shape about people sleeping in the wrong spot, let’s issue a citation to Police Chief Villasenor who is supposed to be living and sleeping within city limits. His house in Pima County is underwater, like many of us, and he cannot afford to relocate. So we wink and nod and say “that’s okay” while we want to crack down on the Tucson Occupiers? It doesn’t seem fair to me. The police have been great – we really appreciate their protection and civility – but 60% of our police force also live outside the City and I know that some of them feel that coming into Tucson to do their jobs is kind of like visiting the zoo to see what exotic animals live there. Neighbor-to-neighbor policing allows a more humane perspective to color these interactions, I believe.
Look at what Tucson Occupiers are accomplishing. Direct democracy. We have 2 General Assemblies each day where everyone’s voice is heard. Everyone gets to register their thoughts and concerns. We work cooperatively to address the needs and interests of our community. We’ve organized different teams to deal with all facets of the Occupation – Peacekeepers, Food Crew, Medics, Education & Outreach, Media & PR, Sanitation & Facility Maintenance, even Meditation. We’ve had no problems that we haven’t been able to address and solve internally. Really, do we deserve your wrath and ire? What are you afraid of?
Rather than hatin’ on us, you should be applauding our sense of civic responsibility and doing all you can to SUPPORT our efforts.