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OCCUPY TUCSON and 4 Hours in City Court Yesterday

Hey FireDogs. Occupy Tucson is back up again. This is the fourth encampment. Today will mark 2 weeks and two days. Already the tent camp at De Anza Park at Speedway and Stone has grown to 47 in number and perhaps 65 overnighters, we are reconnecting with the community in that way that isn’t possible to do without the community and energy that the tent camp brings to the protest. I will post in detail about all that is attendant to this development in the near future.

This morning we have a fundraising event scheduled called 99% Meet Yourself at the downtown main Library park, we have done a decent promo job, will have live music, and hope to pull off a coup for the movement in our city, the war chest was seriously depleted by the eviction from Vente de Agosto park. Absent the the permanent library of information and handouts at the welcome canopy and the near daily teach-ins and the ever present live music and the community and energy that grows up around the camp, the community at large felt disconnected from Occupy, there was no focal point. You could see donations surge following particularly successful protest actions, and the brave hardy souls who maintained the all night vigils on the sidewalks notwithstanding, it just isn’t the same absent the focal point of the tent camp.

Anyway I need to build some coffee and get out the door soon but I wanted to tell you the story about City Court yesterday. Mary DeCamp is one of our stalwart Occupiers. She ran for mayor of Tucson on the green party ticket last fall, and she was the first physical arrest and incarceration in Tucson for Occupy, done voluntarily as a protest against the suppression of our first amendment rights by the constant harassment from TPD in issuing citations nightly. I’ve written about her here at the Lake previously.

Those citations grew in number to well over 800 at the time of Occupy Tucson’s third eviction from a protest camp. At this time, over 200 of those citations have been summarily dismissed because the City Parks Department had failed to post no overnight camping signage at Armory Park, the site of the first Occupy camp in Tucson, and their ordinance as written required them to provide proper notice. Of those citations that remain, some small number have been settled by a few of the Occupiers accepting plea agreements. The bulk of the citations that remain in force could be decided by the motion to dismiss hearing in Mary DeCamp’s case that I witnessed yesterday morning in Tucson City Court over a four hour period presided over by City Magistrate David Dingledine. [cont’d.]

Here are my impressions of that hearing. The defense attorney for Mary DeCamp, Bill Risner, filed a motion to dismiss Mary’s charges with the court based upon first amendment grounds. This action, if decided in Mary’s favor by Judge Dingledine, would, in effect, de facto dismiss all the citations issued by TPD to Occupy Tucson. So this is a big deal. The argument that Mr. Risner constructed basically asserted that the first amendment of the U.S. constitution was preeminent to a city ordinance, and that in the case of Occupy, the tent encampment itself was the protest; therefore it follows that the tent encampment is an expression of free speech and is therefore protected by the first amendment. At one point in the proceedings during an exchange with the Judge and the prosecutor, Mr. Risner actually got the prosecutor to say that Occupy could have all the free speech rights they wanted…..right up until 10:30 at night when they were then prohibited by the city’s ordinance. I thought that was a minor faux pas for him to utter those words into the record. Just sayin’.

Aside from the legal issues, at a personal level, the prosecutor was a real piece of work as a human being, he was contemptuous of the Occupiers called as witnesses, his every question and retort to them dripping with condescension. He was hostile out of all proportion it seemed to the situation in which we were all engaged. His attitude did not go unnoticed by Judge Dingledine, and I do not believe that the Judge was appreciative. At one point I quipped to all within hearing on the benches in the gallery that I wondered if I would get in much trouble if on camera, in front of a sitting Judge , I walked up behind the prosecutor and saw how hard I could hit him in the back of the head. The laughter earned me a quick scowl from the Judge, and I resumed sitting quietly and behaving myself there on the bench there in courtroom #14, not my best thing. The prosecutor is one of those guys who got beat up a lot in high school, and I completely understand and empathize with his tormentors.

Judge Dingledine has, at this point, taken the matter under consideration, and has committed to issuing a ruling sometime next week. I like our chances, I would guess that we have better than even odds he will rule in our favor.

Well, the sun is coming up soon, and I need a shave and shower and to get headed in the direction of downtown for 99% Meet Yourself. I think it’s gonna be a really great day. That’s it from my purview here in Tucson.

Stay Strong and Take Care of One Another.

CommunityMy FDL

OCCUPY TUCSON and 4 Hours in City Court Yesterday.

 

Hey FireDogs. Occupy Tucson is back up again. This is the fourth encampment. Today will mark 2 weeks and two days. Already the tent camp at De Anza Park at Speedway and Stone has grown to 47 in number and perhaps 65 overnighters, we are reconnecting with the community in that way that isn’t possible to do without the community and energy that the tent camp brings to the protest. I will post in detail about all that is attendant to this development in the near future.

This morning we have a fundraising event scheduled called 99% Meet Yourself at the downtown main Library park, we have done a decent promo job, will have live music, and hope to pull off a coup for the movement in our city, the war chest was seriously depleted by the eviction from Vente de Agosto park. Absent the the permanent library of information and handouts at the welcome canopy and the near daily teach-ins and the ever present live music and the community and energy that grows up around the camp, the community at large felt disconnected from Occupy, there was no focal point. You could see donations surge following particularly successful protest actions, and the brave hardy souls who maintained the all night vigils on the sidewalks notwithstanding, it just isn’t the same absent the focal point of the tent camp.

Anyway I need to build some coffee and get out the door soon but I wanted to tell you the story about City Court yesterday. Mary DeCamp is one of our stalwart Occupiers. She ran for mayor of Tucson on the green party ticket last fall, and she was the first physical arrest and incarceration in Tucson for Occupy, done voluntarily as a protest against the suppression of our first amendment rights by the constant harassment from TPD in issuing citations nightly. I’ve written about her here at the Lake previously. (more…)

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