Occupy Phoenix Plans Tie-Dye Protests
Local Movement, Undeterred By Thursday Night Rousing By Phoenix Police, Plans Colorful Weekend
Phoenix Police watch Occupy Phoenix and ALEC protesters at Kierland park last month.
By Staff Report
Modern Times Magazine
Dec. 9, 2011 — Scorning police for omnipresence over their movement, Occupy Phoenix is hosting tie-dye themed actions this weekend in downtown Phoenix, less than 24 hours after Phoenix police roused their ‘camp’ and impounded canopies and other belongings at Cesar Chavez plaza.
“This suppression of the people's right to free speech and assembly is designed to silence those members of the 99% who speak out against the status quo of economic, social and racial injustice. We will no longer stand idly by while these rights are trampled. We demand that those in power who have authorized this police violence — and those in power who have tacitly endorsed it through their silence on the matter — be brought to justice,” according to the Occupy Phoenix press release announcing the weekend events.
Occupy Phoenix will be hosting a picnic, tie-dye making, music and speakers throughout Friday afternoon, followed by a vigil at sunset for those silenced by police violence and intimidation. Saturday’s events begin at 10 a.m. with a march from Cesar Chavez plaza to Puente Arizona, Van Buren and 13th streets, to “support an afternoon of action for human rights and in protest of the expansion of the corporate criminal justice system,” according to Occupy Phoenix.
Since the movement first began Oct. 14, police have been a constant, visible presence. Approximately 50 protesters were removed by police in riot gear and wielding pepper spray Oct.15 at Margaret T. Hance park and arrested. When protesters moved back to Cesar Chavez plaza Oct. 16, police made them stay on the sidewalks surrounding the park. On Oct. 19, the city of Phoenix and the police department consented to allowing protesters in the plaza as long as they did not sleep, which the city contended was a violation of city ordinance 23-30, the “urban camping” law. Adamant about challenging the urban camping law, eight protesters were arrested Nov. 19 when they undertook an act of civil disobedience by laying down and simulating sleep.
Another eight protesters were arrested Nov. 30 at the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale when Occupy Phoenix hosted action against the American Legislative Exchange Council’s States & Nation Summit. Pepper spray was again used against protesters when some challenged the police barricades.
Last week, during First Friday in downtown Phoenix, police once again used pepper spray when Occupy Phoenix brought their protest to the event.
George Pouk, who volunteers with the Phoenix Urban Health Collective which provides first-aid assistance to Occupy Phoenix, said police lied when they said pepper spray was used when a protester tried to attack an officer. He said the incident was unprovoked and that police refused to allow medics to treat women and children that were temporarily blinded.
“The police have been so belligerent and obnoxious. They were interfering with us providing health care,” Pouk said. “We were asking them (police) to call for an ambulance and they said, ‘no one will come until you do what I say.’”
Occupy Phoenix also called on Phoenix council member Michael Johnson to condemn the actions of Phoenix police. Johnson, a former homicide detective who represents downtown, was arrested in 2010 when it was determined he did not heed police orders at a South Phoenix house fire.
Johnson did make an appearance at Occupy Phoenix last weekend as part of the We Are One appearance at the plaza. When asked about the intense police presence surrounding anything Occupy Phoenix does — at least 10 and as many as 100 officers following them — he said police were just insuring everyone has a right to free speech.
For more information, visit the group's webpage at http://occupyphoenix.net/, the #OccupyPhoenix Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/#!/occupyphoenix, the group’s Twitter page at http://twitter.com/#!/occupyphoenix or catch the livestream at http://www.livestream.com/occupyphoenix.
John Guzzon is editor of Modern Times Magazine.