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Tempe Closes Activist

Created Garden

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Activists clear a city of Tempe-owned strip of land along University Drive at Farmer Avenue Sunday under the watchful eye of police.
As Local Activists Attempt to Maintain Makeshift Park Space Created Along University Drive Sunday, Tempe Police Compel Them To Clear The Space

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By John Guzzon
Modern Times Magazine

May 7, 2012 — A group of local activists arrived at a strip of city of Tempe property along University Drive at Farmer Avenue Sunday — a week after many of them created a makeshift garden in the space — only to have Tempe Police order the removal of everything they had put there, or face arrest.

Commander Kim Hale of Tempe Police said the activists were in violation of Arizona Regional Statute 13-1603, criminal littering, which is either a class 6 felony or a class 1 misdemeanor. He said activists were given a chance to avoid arrest by removing the plants, rocks, paving stones and lumber they had used to create the garden.

“They know they have broken the law,” Hale said.

ARS 13-1603 reads, in part, “A person commits criminal littering or polluting if such person without lawful authority does any of the following: Throws, places, drops or permits to be dropped on public property or property of another which is not a lawful dump any litter, destructive or injurious material which he does not immediately remove; Discharges or permits to be discharged any sewage, oil products or other harmful substances into any waters or onto any shorelines within the state; Dumps any earth, soil, stones, ores or minerals on any land.”

Read story on the building of the garden.

Activist Nicholas Dehning said the fact that the city would not let a group of residents create a garden on public land unless they pay fees and file applications is precisely the type of policy that inspires his activism.

“We are on public property and we are making a garden area,” Dehning said. “The city wants us to pay a $250 fee and go through a process to plant things.”

Activist John Williams said the unaffiliated group began to assemble at about 8 a.m., and that police arrived at approximately noon with orders to supervise the removal of the items. According to Williams, many of the activists scattered in fear of arrest as police swept in. He said the garden materials were taken to a nearby property, whose owner had offered to store the lumber, plants, pavers, and other items that had been donated.

John Guzzon is editor of Modern Times Magazine.
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