Occupy Phoenix Readies For One Week Party
Local Movement Started Like A Wildfire, Was Snuffed By Police, Now Smolders Into One Week Party At Chavez Plaza
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A protester waves signs in the crosswalk at Cesar Chavez plaza and Washington, Ave. Friday.
View Occupy Phoenix Event Locations in a larger map
By John Guzzon
Modern Times Magazine
Oct. 22, 2011 — The Occupy Phoenix movement has had a week of trials and tribulations — including Phoenix police arresting near 50 people last Saturday at Margaret T. Hance Park — but it is holding a one-week celebration at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Cesar Chavez plaza in downtown Phoenix.
“We extend our invitation to our ONE WEEK birthday party at Cesar Chavez plaza this Saturday, as we will listen to live music, and interact and socialize as well as a mass participation in the GA. We are asking for donations of cake, soda, and other party items! Make sure to bring NO ALCOHOL, it is against our code of conduct, and confetti is discouraged as we do not want to create a mess at the park. We'll see you all there Saturday, and come join in the party :)” according to a post on the group’s Facebook page.
Several thousand attended the kickoff to the occupation last Saturday, but if Friday’s march is any indication, the numbers might be quite a bit lower this week. While engaged and impassioned, less than half of those marching last Friday were on the streets this Friday. About 40 people marched yesterday, stopping at Chase, U.S. and Wells Fargo banks.
Occupy Phoenix backers said they are expecting 500 to 1,000 for today’s festivities. Several thousand attended last Saturday. The events kickoff at 9 a.m. with a meditation, continues with a facilitator and general assembly orientation at 10:30 a.m. and the general assembly at noon. In the afternoon, a Kingian non violence seminar will be held at 4:30 and a homeless issue teach-in at 5:30 p.m. The evening general assembly is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Friday morning, the city of Phoenix turned off all but one of the electrical outlets in Cesar Chavez plaza and has stood firm on the restriction that no one should sleep. Police have allowed them to set up canopies, but not tents and are not allowing sleeping bags. Phoenix police did not return phone calls about why it was decided to turn off the power.
Occupy Phoenix launched a petition drive Wednesday seeking to suspend or waive city of Phoenix ordinances on trespassing that apply to city parks for those engaged in non-criminal, freedom of speech activities and calling for a reoccupation of Cesar Chavez Plaza at 11 a.m. Saturday.
At approximately 7 p.m. Wednesday night, Occupy Phoenix announced they had received permission to occupy Cesar Chavez Plaza. Sgt. Steve Martos, a public information officer for Phoenix police, told Modern Times Magazine Thursday that the change in policy was due to a city legal staff review of the classification of Cesar Chavez Plaza and safety concerns.
According to Martos, the plaza is not technically a park, so Occupy Phoenix will be allowed to 'occupy' there indefinitely. Martos also said the sleeping contingency was due to city ordinance 23-30 which prohibits camping, "in any park or preserve, or in any building, facility, or parking lot or structure." This ordinance, adopted in 2004, was passed to give law enforcement more tools to remove homeless people from parks. Martos said anyone found violating the sleeping rule will be dealt with on a one-on-one basis and that Occupy Phoenix as a group, will not be removed from the park if people end up falling asleep. He also said sanitation and health concerns will also be dealt with in the same manner.
According to Occupy Phoenix backers in Cesar Chavez plaza, the general assembly — the common, unifying tool used in all of the Occupy cities and started in Wall Street — has began to be an effective tool in managing the details of the occupation, from daily tasks to the setting of goals. On the first night in Cesar Chavez plaza, the general assembly was very fractured. Reports from other cities identify the general assembly process akin to growing pains as a leaderless movement begins to work and develop in a group fashion.
Since occupying a plaza in downtown Phoenix is a bit more of a logistical issue for Valley residents than at Wall Street or Boston, a group, called the Cyber 99 has joined together to ensure they make their computer aided voices heard. They have gone so far as to make proposals to the general assembly about how they can be recognized as equals to those on Cesar Chavez plaza. Their Facebook page is located here.
The Cyber 99 keep up with what is going on when they can't be at the plaza by watching the live feed here.
Those who watched about midday might have been treated to a Cesar Chavez plaza appearance of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Occupy Phoenix backers were showing the video around Friday night, but it has yet to appear online.
Editor's note: That video is now available and is linked below.
For more information, visit the #OccupyPhoenix Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/#!/occupyphoenix and the group’s Twitter page at http://twitter.com/#!/occupyphoenix.