Occupy Tucson protesters look to put an end to citations
Reporter: Kevin Keen
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Police handed out around 80 citations to Occupy Tucson protesters over the weekend. Many were for staying overnight in Armory Park. Heading into the week, protesters downtown are exploring ways to stop the tickets from coming.
Officers issued Phil Benoit a citation Sunday night. He says he now faces a fine up $1,000.
Reporter Kevin Keen asked him, "Are you going to pay that?" "How can I afford to?" Benoit replied. "I can't even afford my own home. I really don't know how I ever could."
The citations technically count as arrests, although those cited have not taken to jail. Protesters call them a scare tactic.
"Not only are they intimidating people fiscally by trying to bleed people fiscally as far as the fines they will be accumulating and as far as the legal costs of representation down the line," organizer Craig Barber told 9 On Your Side, "but they're also intimidating people legally by saying, 'Oh, you're going to have all these charges on your record.'"
"It's an ingenious tactic, but we're fighting against it," Barber later continued. "Our representative from the National Lawyers Guild is working with the city prosecutors office to get those charges dismissed."
Others are trying to fight back in other ways.
"We plan on speaking with the city council members and the mayor and have them put it on the agenda of the city hall meeting tomorrow to propose to change the ordinance," said organizer Jon McLane.
"The goal is to get them to throw all of these out and stop writing new ones," Benoit said, holding his citation.
They argue the city ordinance being cited wasn't meant to silence free speech and protests.
"Do you think something could become of that, from those individuals going to city hall?" Keen asked Barber. "Absolutely," he replied.
The topic of the citations isn't on Tuesday's city council meeting agendas, but it is something on the minds of council members. Council member Karen Ulrich told 9 On Your Side the city attorney is looking into whether the ordinance being cited is being used properly.