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Posts Tagged ‘Occupy Tucson’

The Mainstream Media Ignores Illegal Arrests of Tucson Occupiers

In Current Events, Occupy Movement on April 7, 2012 at 21:28

Arrests at Occupy Tucson from azstarnet.com

On Friday, March 23, Paul Gattone, the lawyer representing many of the Occupy Tucson arrestees, held a press conference to protest the Tucson Police Department’s recent actions against the occupiers at Vente de Agosto park downtown. Despite the fact that five occupiers had been arrested two nights before the press conference, and two the night before, no mainstream media turned up.

One might think that seven arrests resulting from the police going after political activists would seem to warrant some news coverage, but the decision makers at the mainstream news outlets in Tucson decided not to cover either the arrest of the occupiers or the press conference denouncing the police actions.

Some of the extra-legal actions and abuse of authority by the Tucson Police Department that were highlighted in Mr. Gattone’s press release include:

1. Camping gear is now illegal, according to the TPD. The TPD even stated that it was illegal for one of the Occupiers to have his truck parked alongside the park because it had camping gear in it. No ordinance was, however, cited by TPD regarding laws against having camping gear in the back of one’s vehicle.

2. The police have repeatedly ignored the city park curfew of 10:30 p.m. to illegally arrest people whose crime appears to be holding signs. On the evening of Friday, March 23, 2012 at around 9:30 p.m., three individuals were arrested while walking within the four feet easement mandated by the police the night before. The victims were protesting with signs; no blankets or any other personal possessions were present. One individual was reportedly knocked to the ground and injured as the TPD arrested the three.

3. Among the illegal and irresponsible police actions are constantly-changing definitions of park and sidewalk boundaries and the subsequent entrapping and arresting of protestors.

4. The TPD has exercised selective enforcement, violated their own policies with regard to handling evidence, and refused to return personal property of protestors in deliberate indifference to the law. Many occupiers had their possessions confiscated without property receipts given to them as is mandated by city law. Moreover, for many of the protestors, the jackets, clothes, shoes and other necessities taken by the TPD and never returned constitute all of their worldly possessions. Regardless of what you think of Occupy Tucson, the police actions constitute illegal seizure of property.

The unlawful actions and abuses of Occupy Tucson by the TPD warrants investigation and reporting. However, the mainstream media is only interested in scratching the surface of a story and not taking a longer view of a new movement.

Thus, even when the local media reports on Occupy Tucson, they report various allegations about there, e.g., “being a split” in the movement, or about drugs being used, or fights, or anything that will get attention and ratings so they can sell more car commercials on the page or at the next news break. These stories are part fabrication, part conflation and none of these stories are backed up by interviews with actual occupiers.

Instead, the media relies on “official sources” and, in our case, that means the police, Chief Villasenor, and the city council; the media seldom actually talks to the people in movement. It is true that the mainstream media did give some coverage to the Occupy movement in its early days last fall, but now that coverage has disappeared. We have to ask why is it that they no longer seem to have any interest in covering the occupy movement. Is it because Occupy is no longer the new and novel sensation that it was in October? Is the decision to ignore the movement intentional, and why is Occupy Tucson no longer news worthy? Are they saving an extra column of space or five extra minutes to cover, for example, the new Arizona football coach even though the economic and political inequality Occupy Tucson focuses on effects everyone?

Whatever the reason, this lack of media coverage presents a problem for Occupy Tucson and all social movements because in the modern world of politics it often seems that if you aren’t covered in the mass media, you don’t exist. Thus, members of Occupy Tucson, even though we undertake actions of creative disobedience that result in a whole string of arrests, are then asked by members of the public whether we even exist because “they don’t hear anything about the Occupy movement anymore.” On the positive side, the experience of being frozen out of the mainstream media has reminded all of us at Occupy Tucson why it is that alternative media is so important.

Peace,
Occupy Tucson
Co-authored by Greg Evans, Paul Gattone, and Tex Shelters of Occupy Tucson with help others in OT


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Occupy Tucson Day of Solidarity

In Current Events, Economics, Education, Occupy Movement on February 21, 2012 at 02:25

The Raging Grannies performing at Occupy Tucson's 99% Meet Yourself

One thing the Republicans have yet to mention when deriding the Occupy movements and their most visible target, Occupy Wall Street, is that it’s run by a bunch of community organizers. Community organizing was evident at the Occupy Tucson Presents: 99% Meet Yourself event held at the downtown, main library plaza, Saturday Feb. 18th, in Tucson, Arizona.

The event was well organized, with a stage, music and speakers from different community based local and national organizations, tables that had information from these organizations, sign making, and information about the historical struggles of the 99%.

Several hundred people attended the event throughout the day to observe, share, learn and listen to the speakers and music and uncounted others that visit the plaza on weekends sat to witness and partake in the event. The event was also live streamed on the Internet for the world to see. Considering how dangerous the occupy movement has been portrayed in some media outlets, it was surprising that no counter protests occurred and there was little police presence.

The day focused on support and sharing of information regarding mutual and overlapping goals shared by the organizations at the event. As speaker Billy Lolos of Occupy Tucson (OT) pointed out, people ask what we in the occupy movements are about, why we don’t have one issue. The truth is, he said, was that we live in a “target rich environment”, and we will be there to protest and join in solidarity with those that share these concerns.

IT Live Streaming OT's 99% Meet Yourself

He then talked about the foreclosure crisis in the nation and in Tucson. Mr. Lolos urged us to get the Tucson and Pima County governments to use eminent domain to claim foreclosed houses and refinance homes for at risk owners. He also took aim at the banks and their bailouts and how if we let them, they will continue taking bailouts from tax payers to finance their risky ventures.

Steve Valencia, Tucson Chair of Jobs with Justice, thanked the occupy movement for helping change the discourse in this nation from cuts that would harm workers to investment in jobs and a sustainable future. He discussed what a “Job with Justice” means: a livable wage, dignity, benefits, collective bargaining, and so forth. Mr. Valencia also pointed out how the occupy movement is raising awareness for the push back against the dominance of corporations over our politics and the scapegoating of workers.

Joe Bernick, a leading voice in the Communist Party of America, author and director of the Salt of the Earth Labor College, added his voice of support and caution to the proceedings. He  reminded us that change doesn’t happen without social movements working for change. He added that capital and capitalism will prevent needed change unless we overturn the faulty capitalist paradigm.

Sal Baldenegro, Sr, a preeminent voice in the Chicano Movement and defender of ethnic studies, more accurately “Mexican American Studies”, echoed the sentiment in his presentation. He pointed out that every time laws were passed to exclude Mexicans and others from participation as members of the United States, those efforts have been defeated. When the U.S. tried to keep Mexicans from owning property, it failed. When governments tried to exclude Mexicans from certain neighborhoods, it failed. When people tried to keep Mexicans segregated and out of their businesses, Mexicans opened their own businesses and over time, segregation became less of an issue. And this happened because of the work of people to overcome those obstacles. And the ban of Mexican American Studies will also fail, he pointed out, because of the efforts of the people.

Sign making at OT's 99% Meet Yourself

David Yerkey of the KXCI show “A View from Slightly off Center”  talked about the media’s role in censorship and promoting the corporate agenda and the way marginalized groups are kept out of the national debate. One striking example he mentioned was how Wikileaks was kept out of the UNESCO debate on Wikileaks by the U.S., and how the U.S. state department filled the meeting with Wikileaks detractors. With public media and the Internet, we can get the news out about these forms of political censorship.

Gayle Hartmann, director of “Saved the Scenic Santa Ritas“, thanked the support OT has given their cause. She added that the letter writing campaign to the U.S. Forest Service against the mine in the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson, specifically those questioning the water quality effects of the Rosemont project, were having an impact on the Forest Service’s support for open pit mine. And she made it clear that the mine “would create only a few jobs” and that mining jobs were already available in Arizona.

The music of the day was rousing, lively, socially relevant, and uplifting. The headline band, Relic Soup, played classic songs from Stevie Wonder to Pearl Jam. Ted Warmbrand entertained us with his folk songs and traditional sing-a-longs while local favorites The Raging Grannies sang traditional songs with new updated lyrics about the 99%. Arianna Solare played her politic songs while accompanying herself on guitar while singing in English and Spanish. Guest musicians Ron Pandy entertained us with his down-home folk originals while local character known only as “Iggy” entertained us with his improvised piano and scat style a cappella rapping.

Tabling at the event were groups as diverse as a local solar power company, Move to Amend, the National Writers Union, and Occupy Tucson working groups such as the Yoga and meditation working group, PR/Outreach (the main organizers of the event), among others. Occupy Phoenix also had a table at the event to present information and invite Tucsonans to their events in the coming month.

Tabling at 99% Meet Yourself

More than all the learning, teaching, an networking, the event demonstrated that Occupy Tucson is organized, issue oriented, talented and well spoken members of a community that cares deeply about what happens in our city, state, and nation.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Occupy Tucson Rousted From Park Despite Agreement with Permit Holders

In Current Events on November 4, 2011 at 21:13

from tucsonsentinel.com

In yet another example of police protecting property and the law of the 1% above the Constitution, people, and common sense, Occupy Tucson has been evicted from Armory Park to nearby Viente de Agosto Park, around 12:30 AM on Nov 4th.

To move the 20 overnight occupants of the park, the police department used 60 police officers. Was this use of taxpayers money and overwhelming force really necessary to move the peaceful group? Although Occupy Tucson was evicted, the police did let other members come and help the overnight residents move their tents to the nearby location.

The police didn’t use tear gas, concussion grenades or other use of force as they have in Oakland, Tulsa and other cities, and they didn’t arrest those present with few exceptions. However, the move was unnecessary. Occupy Tucson had already come to an agreement with the permit holders for their Nov. 5th Little Angels celebration to move their tents out of the way of the celebration and to monitor the event to keep it safe and fun. The police either didn’t talk to the permit holders or care about the cooperation between the groups. A spokesperson for the Little Angels event assured me that a letter was sent to the police about our agreement and cooperation for the Nov. 5th event. The letter appeared to make no difference in their decision to evict the group.

It is also unclear whether the police were “just following orders” of the city manager, mayor and council, but in Albany, the police refused orders to arrest protesters.

While the new location is strategically located, it lacks the public facilities, power, toilets and size provided by Armory Park. And who knows what excuse the police will use to evict the group from the new location. It is clear that unless the city manager, mayor, or city council steps in to support the group, the harassment may continue unabated with more citations being issued.

Contact the mayor and city council of Tucson to let the occupiers practice their First Amendment rights peacefully and secure from police state interference.

Mayor Bob Walkup, mayor1@tucsonaz.gov, (520) 791-4201

Ward 1 Council Member Regina Romero, ward1@tucsonaz.gov, (520) 791-4040

Ward 2 Council Member Paul Cunningham, ward2@tucsonaz.gov, (520) 791-4687

Ward 3 Council Member Karin Uhlich, ward3@tucsonaz.gov, (520) 791-4711

Ward 4 Council Member Shirley Scott, ward4@tucsonaz.gov, (520) 791-3199

Ward 5 Council Member Richard Fimbres, ward5@tucsonaz.gov, (520) 791-4231

Ward 6 Council Member Steve Kozachik, ward6@tucsonaz.gov, (520) 791-4601

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Fact sheet and news from Occupy Tucson

In Current Events, Economics, Election Politics on October 16, 2011 at 01:22

Occupy Tucson is on! from Anonymous

Occupy Tucson began their campaign at Armory Park today, October 15th, after two weeks of planning and meetings of various working groups such as the legal, PR and outreach, peace keeping, and art groups. About 1000 people over the day attended and about 350 marched orderly through downtown.

“”Everyone’s been very peaceful and cooperative,” said Lieutenant Danny Denogean of the Tucson Police Department, who was onsite at the park. “We don’t anticipate any problems.”” Tucson Police Chief Villasenor stated that the police will keep a low profile and that “We do not want to be the issue that causes the confrontation.” He also said that the protesters would be informed of the laws about park usage, including a 10:30 PM curfew, but that they weren’t prepared to start forcing people out of the park or create hostility. That is still to be seen, but let’s hope that all the outreach and communication we have had with the Tucson Police Department has created some good will and that the police will not create unnecessary conflicts like they have at other Occupy sites.

What follows is a fact sheet regarding economic inequality and corporate and political dominance of our government that has been used for the Occupy Tucson Movement. Hopefully others can use this list of facts to teach others and propel them to push for a change in our system.

Inequity

Record poverty rates:
A record poverty rate for  2010 was recorded at 15.1 percent, 46.2 million people, also a record.
CNN Money. http://money.cnn.com/2011/09/13/news/economy/poverty_rate_income/index.htm

Real Unemployment 16.2%
The real unemployment rate, the official rate plus discouraged workers no long looking for work plus part time workers who want full time work was 16.2% in June.
http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-07-08/markets/30031403_1_timers-workers-bad-number

Black unemployment is nearly double white unemployment and hispanic unemployment is 150% higher than whites. As of September, white unemployment was at 8.7 percent, the Hispanic unemployment rate was at 12.4 percent and the black unemployment rate was at 16.1 percent.
http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t02.htm

There are 2.3 million Americans in prison, and these prisoners are not counted in the unemployment statistics. We have the highest incarceration rate in the world at 743 per 100,000.
http://www.prisonstudies.org/images/news_events/wppl9.pdf

Lost Wages
Between 1979 and 2007 the average income of the bottom 50 percent of American households grew by 6%; the top 1% saw their income increase by 229 percent.”
http://pr.thinkprogress.org/2008/05/pr20080505

44.2% unemployment for Blacks teenagers 16-19 years of age
http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t02.htm 

Income Gap
The top 1% wealthy people in the U.S. control 34.6% and the top 20% wealthiest people in the U.S. control over 85% of the wealth leaving 15% for the rest of us.  http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

Households have lost $8.7 trillion of wealth since 2007
http://money.cnn.com/2011/06/09/news/economy/household_wealth/index.htm 

Minority Families hit Hardest
From 2005 to 2009, inflation-adjusted median wealth fell by 66% among Hispanic households and 53% among black households, compared with just 16% among white households.
http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2011/07/26/wealth-gaps-rise-to-record-highs-between-whites-blacks-hispanics/

Lenders foreclosed on 1 million homes in 2010 and 918,000 in 2009
http://www.foreclosurebusinessnews.com/home-foreclosure-statistics-for-first-time-in-history-foreclosures-top-1-million-thats-not-the-worst-of-it/

Wealthy Tax Evasion
One Quarter of Millionaires Pay a Lower Tax Rate than 10 Million Middle-Income Americans
From the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service
http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2011/10/millionaire_fast_facts.html

2/3rds of US Corporations Pay Zero Federal Taxes
http://www.alternet.org/economy/150387/2_3rds_of_us_corporations_pay_zero_federal_taxes%3A_us_uncut_movement_builds_to_make_them_pay_up/

Hoarding
American corporations have $1.8 trillion in reserve cash but Congress won’t raise the marginal tax rates for these companies to help create jobs.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/04/AR2010070403856.html

The 2010 ratio between average worker and average CEO compensation was 325-to-1. CEO pay last year averaged $10,762,304
http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/executive_excess_2011_the_massive_ceo_rewards_for_tax_dodging/

America’s oil, gas and coal industry spent $44.5m in the first three months of 2009 in an effort to stop environmental regulations such as cap and trade.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/may/12/us-climate-bill-oil-gas

So far, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost $2.3-2.7 trillion with no end in sight while teachers are being laid off in every state for lack of funding. 
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/29/us-usa-war-idUSTRE75S25320110629

Political influence

There was $3.5 billion spent lobbying Congress in 2010.
http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/index.php

The Financial Sector has given over $96 million in donations for the 2012 elections, businesses total of over $314 million in donations compared to $15.5 million for labor.
http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/index.php

Candidates for Congress with the most campaign money win over 90% of the time.
http://www.uspirg.org/home/reports/report-archives/campaign-finance-reform/campaign-finance-reform/the-best-elections-money-can-buy

Peace,
Tex “Occupy Tucson” Shelters
We are the 99%