Occupy Tucson moving beyond Armory Park
After city council setback, leader says downtown land is in sights
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The Occupy Tucson movement is dealt a blow Tuesday and leaders plan to move on--in more than one way.
In 11 days of protests, police have issued 328 citations to demonstrators staying overnight in Armory Park and, now, Veinte de Agosto Park as well. Demonstrators marched on city hall last week, asking the city council to bring those nightly citations to a halt.
Council members were receptive and city staff spent the week exploring options for the group. But at Tuesday’s council meeting, city staff said they’ve come up empty handed for now.
“I say that we have spent many hours looking at different alternatives to deal with the issue, but the fact remains that the rules and ordinances for the parks are being violated,” city manager Richard Miranda told mayor and council. “We are going to enforce through citations.”
“What was your reaction?” 9 On Your Side’s Kevin Keen asked Occupy leader Jon McLane. “I'd like to say I was surprised, but I was not," he said. "I definitely felt like the city's been stringing us along from the get go.”
Demonstrators have already branched out to Veinte de Agosto Park downtown, staying overnight there. Now, after hearing the council's intention not to act Tuesday, they plan to branch out even more, occupying land near Pima County Public Library.
“Why do that?” Keen asked McLane. “We have to move forward in some way," he replied. "They want us to just sit on our hands and make no forward action whatsoever, but I refuse to.”
“Do you have a permit to do that this time?” Keen asked. “No. It is public land. It is owned by the public. It doesn't make sense to us for there to be any restrictions whatsoever for them to make us pay to use our land.”
McLane says the land near the library is not a park but general city land. He claims police will not be able to cite them for the same reason as staying overnight in a park.
Wednesday morning, the first group of protesters who received citations is set to appear in city court.