TUSCON, AZ – Six months of my participation on the front-line of the Occupy movement have come and gone, and my disdain for Tucson’s police force and cops in general has evolved to outright disgust. In this movie-like past six months I have been arrested forty times and so far twenty of those cases have been dismissed. That is the good news, the bad news is the local police force has escalated from strictly …enforcing the law, to outright breaking the law in order to quash the Occupy Movement. The fight over the use of public land for the sake of free speech and peaceable assembly has gone back and forth so far, but most recently there is no place in the City of Tucson that can be occupied twenty four hours a day, even for the purpose of peaceable assembly.
Currently the debacle that has peaceful protesters banging their heads against the
wall in Tucson is the Tucson Polices denial of Tucson City Code 11-36.2(b)4. It
Section 11-36.2. Prohibited conduct; exceptions.
(a) No person shall sit or lie down upon a public sidewalk or upon a blanket, chair,
stool, or any other object placed upon a public sidewalk or median during the hours
between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. in the following zones:
Except a person:
(4) Who is exercising First Amendment rights protected by the United States
Constitution, including free exercise of religion, speech and assembly; provided,
however, that the person sitting or lying on the public sidewalk remains at least
eight (8) feet from any doorway or business entrance, leaves open a five (5) foot
path and does not otherwise block or impede pedestrian traffic.
In the past two months the Tucson Police Department has completely ignored this code
and used Tucson City Code 16-35 (No person shall obstruct any public sidewalk,
street or alley in the city by placing, maintaining or allowing to remain thereon
any item or thing that prevents full, free and unobstructed public use in any
manner, except as otherwise specifically permitted by law.) to arrest and remove
people from the sidewalk.
Being a person that has had my first and fourteenth amendment rights violated by the
actions of the Tucson Police Department obviously I hold a bias, but even the most
cop friendly people can see the obvious violation of our Federal, State, and Local
laws. This will seem even more obvious when I have the other twenty criminal
violations I hold dismissed, but that will not regain our rights.
I will continue to occupy the front-line putting my mental, emotional, and physical
safety at risk to expose the injustices in our city, state, and country. It will be
an uphill battle and I may not accomplish a thing. But, it feels great to have a
purpose, and if I do not do something now than when should I?