By NINA ELLIOT
Occupy Tucson began demonstrations Oct. 15 at Armory Park, changed from the original location at Pancho Villa Park.
Occupy Tucson had to move locations because of a major scheduling conflict with “Meet Yourself Tucson.” The festival occupied the same area protesters planned to rally in the downtown financial district.
Protester Lori Labatka wasn’t a fan of the move. “Armory Park is where lots of protests happen in Tucson. Doing it in a park isn’t effective as is occupying a corporate space.”
The City of Tucson accommodated the protesters by turning off the sprinklers in Armory Park and installing a portable toilet.
A major criticism of Occupy Tucson was its poor organization and lack of uniting message.
Pima Community College nursing major Reina Dawn attended the protest. “People are motivated but when they get there they don’t know what to do,” she said. “I think the majority of young people my age have a lack of critical thinking which is necessary for a change to happen.”
Planning meetings were bogged down by votes requiring a consensus of nearly 100 people for decisions.
A litany of signs reading different messages were laid on the ground after a march through downtown. The signs ranged from straightforward to conspiracy theory laden.
Disorganization manifested itself in a variety of ways, including promotion and participation by New-Age spiritual movements like Gabriel of Sedona, whose own movement held a banner advertising their website all day Saturday.
Callie, a pre-school teacher who refused to give her last name, showed up to support friends who protested on the Brooklyn Bridge and had been pinned down by police officers for seven hours.
“As a teacher I’ve seen a lot of pay cuts and layoffs,” she said. “It’s frustrating to see all of these corporations making money but we can’t even make changes for the most important thing, the children.” Callie would rather see a larger budget for education than defense.
Those who listened to the speeches at the protest noticed a theme emerge: Corporations are making too much money while most of America is in a financial crisis.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised by different groups of people who participate and can get over individual differences to stand up against the very small percentage of people who have all the wealth,” Callie remarked.
However, trouble continues for Occupy Tucson: Those who participate and endure arrest receive a citation for $1000, up to six months in jail and three years of probation.
Labatka was interested in seeing how solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street protestors would manifest in Tucson.
“I’ve never been a big fan of capitalism,” Labatka said. “I am perpetually upset because of it. We have an unfair system, we’re all getting fucked all the time. It hurts more than it helps.”
She wants to see a total reformation of U.S. politics and economics. “It would take collaboration of many people. I think change needs to start from the bottom up. It’s cool that a dialogue has started.”
Despite a 12:30 a.m. curfew at Armory Park, a few protestors were still camped out. During the day, people play music or games to keep the momentum going. Police walk through or stand by to monitor the scene.
Oct. 13, 2011
By JOEL GANTT
and LEFTRICK HERD
Occupy Together, the national movement that began on Wall Street in New York City, has spread to Tucson.
Members of the Occupy Tucson chapter say they are among the 99 percent taking action against greed and corruption by the 1 percent.
Occupy Together plans to hold a worldwide occupation in more than 1,000 cities on Oct. 15. In Tucson, the occupation will begin at 9 a.m. at Armory Park.
On Oct. 9, about 200 people gathered near the iconic statue of freedom fighter “Pancho Villa” in Veinte De Agosto Park in downtown Tucson.
Kathleen Hannan, a 58-year-old Pima Community College student, described the movement as a true democracy.
“This is the same structure that started as the Wall Street occupation,” Hannan said. “Last week was the first general assembly. This is not a leadership meeting because part of the movement is not to have leaders. We are the 99 percent.”
At the gathering, fliers were available on a picnic table set up under a tree.
The smaller of the fliers advertised the Oct. 15 gathering. The larger flier was titled “Revolution: a how-to.”
Below the title, another headline read “from anonymous to the citizens of the world, enjoy!”
The larger flier provided instructions on how to cooperate during the gathering. It covered how to handle law enforcement and the media, and how to participate in a general assembly.
The flier showed hand signals and defined lingo such as the “stack,” a term for the line of people waiting to address the crowd.
At noon, a young man who called himself Jon McLain grabbed a megaphone and began speaking.
After the crowd voted that McLain and a man next to him would serve as meeting facilitators, he explained how the meeting would be organized.
McLain organized the stack and explained the meeting would take consensus on topics to be discussed at the Oct. 15 gathering. One by one, participants made proposals.
Suggestions included locations for holding movements, organizing transportation for members of the occupation, how to keep the gathering peaceful and who would be on which committee or team.
For further information, visit OccupyTucson.org.
Occupy Tucson planning meeting