Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
Former Green Party Mayoral Candidate and staunch Occupy Tucson support Mary DeCamp was arrested and taken from Veinte de Agosto Park last night– Thanksgiving.
News bulletin from the Occupation…
Tonight, just after midnight, Mary DeCamp was taken into custody after supposedly refusing to sign her citation. Mary was seated into a police cruiser without handcuffs as occupiers waved and yelled words of encouragement as she was driven away. There are no further details.
Earlier this week, Occupy Tucson lost a legal battle as a Superior Court Judge Howard Fell lifted the stay order. Tucson Police are now allowed to arrest anyone who has received 3 or more citations for being in the park after curfew. With the arrests come more legal problems and a charge of interfering with the judicial process.
From FOX News…
What it means now is – if a person who has more than two tickets for violating the city code which prohibits sleeping in the park after 10:30 p.m. – goes back to the park after 10:30, they face the more severe crime “interfering with judicial process.”
The City of Tucson has been trying to use zoning restrictions against the Occupation for weeks; they finally won in court. Tucson Police have issued more than 600 citations to 99 people since the Occupation began; DeCamp was one of several local Occupiers with multiple citations. Upping the legal stakes on the Occupiers could crush the movement locally as people must decide if going to jail is a wise decision for themselves and their families.
As Tucson Police step up their efforts against the Occupation, local political figures are expressing support. Today the Arizona Daily Star published a supportive commentary by former Tucson Mayor George Miller and former City Council Member Molly McKasson.
Our feeling, however, is that fees [for park use] should be waived for all groups engaged in legitimate, peaceful protest.
And what could be more legitimate than protesting that 99 percent of our citizenry – reds and blues alike – are not being represented?
Nearly everyone who spoke in support of Occupy Tucson expressed their gratitude for our Constitution and its democratic guarantees of free speech and assembly, but as one man put it, “We just haven’t been exercising these rights.”
In classrooms across the country, it’s a message that social studies teachers (George, included) work to communicate every day: That voting and participating are the keys to real change; that just reading about history and listening to the news is no substitute for being part of history in the making.
The Occupy movement seems to us like a giant classroom in participatory democracy. At a time when our politicians seem unable to address the pressing issues, the Occupy movement has given people the hope that together we can create a healthier, happier, more productive and secure nation.
With lifetimes of engagement in citizen and official politics, we know firsthand the importance of participation.
We also know that it’s not a good sign when only 41 percent of the registered voters in the city (not counting those eligible but unregistered) voted in the last election. How can we have a strong democracy when 59 percent of those who are registered don’t vote at all?
Finally, a group of citizens is demonstrating displeasure and frustration with politics as usual, and with the lawmakers who focus on meeting the demands of the wealthiest 1 percent, while ignoring the middle class and the 14 million unemployed or underemployed Americans.
That is why Americans all across the country have embraced the Occupy movement, and why the demonstration in Viente de Agosto park is important for our community.
With poverty in Tucson now hovering at around 23 percent, and more foreclosures and fewer jobs on the horizon, we think it’s vital not to block the profoundly democratic expression that is going on in downtown Tucson. That is why we strongly support council member Romero’s proposal:
• Declare a moratorium on ticketing and fining protesters in Viente de Agosto park.
• Work with the Occupy participants to assure that all other park activities are respected.
• Explore moving certain public funds into local credit unions or banks that support and strengthen our local community.
We urge the entire the mayor and council to support this proposal, which we believe is not just a legitimate and constructive action, but a moral imperative to uphold the First Amendment in no uncertain terms.
UPDATE, Nov. 25: DeCamp has been released from jail. Her and her doggie are back at Veinte de Agosto Park.
UPDATE, Nov. 26: More arrests occurred on Friday night at Occupy Tucson. Check out this link.