“Occupy” Movement Spreads to SD

The ‘Occupations’ — which started in New York City on Sept. 17 — have traveled across the country to cities like Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco. “Occupy San Diego” occurred on Oct. 7, one week after ‘Occupy Los Angeles’ on Oct. 1. Police estimated nearly 1,500 people attended the protest.

These peaceful protests organized via Facebook and Twitter voiced a variety of issues, including corporate greed, unemployment and an uneven distribution of wealth in this country.

These national mobilizations have been a leaderless and loosely organized movement that defines itself as a “people powered movement for democracy.”  

Canadian advocacy magazine Adbusters posted a call for action on July 2011 on its blog, which set off the series of protests.

On Sept. 17, a group in New York calling itself “The General Assembly,” — taking inspiration from the recent uprising in Tahrir Square in Egypt and from the Spanish acampadas in Madrid this summer — encouraged activists to flood Lower Manhattan in order to occupy Wall Street. 

Authorities later moved the protestors from the financial district to the new base on Zucotti Park, a privately owned park in Lower Manhattan that was formerly known as Liberty Plaza Park. The protestors still remain at Zucotti Park to date.

“The future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members,” the General Assembly said in an Oct. 1 statement. 

The statement further explained that it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights and their neighbor’s rights, and that corporations do not see a problem with extracting wealth from the people and the earth. 

Occupy San Diego began at 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 7. 

Hundreds of residents marched from San Diego’s Children’s Park downtown towards Civic Center Plaza where they planned to stage a sit-in at City Hall. 

The group however, agreed to move back to Children’s Park because of a pre-scheduled religious observance at Civic Center Plaza for Yom Kippur.

There were no arrests reported as protestors settled in downtown’s Children’s Park, where many planned to spend the night camping outdoors.

“Everybody’s been good,” Shawn Murphy of the San Diego Police Department said. “Everyone’s been good and getting their point across.”

The demonstration, which is planned to last indefinitely, has no official list of demands.

“There are so many things to protest,” Harry Simón Salazar said, a graduate student from the UCSD Department of Communication. “I’m not out here to protest [just] one thing.”

Simón said he had originally been downtown earlier that day to show support for the California Dream Act, which was signed by Gov. Brown on Oct. 9. 

The Dream Act would give undocumented students of good character access to state-funded financial aid and permanent residency.

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s a Republican or Democrat in government, it’s a continuity of crises ranging from war, bank bailouts, home foreclosures, unemployment, cuts to social services, corporate domination of the electoral process and the list continues,” Simón said.

The crowds have a variety of issues to voice, but their primary concerns stem from the perception that Wall Street and banking institutions control most of the money.

In a news conference last Thursday, President Obama said that people were angry because Wall Street had not been following the rules.

The protestors call themselves “the 99 percent” of the population who continues to struggle as the economy gets worse and unemployment rises, while “the 1 percent” who has the vast majority of the country’s wealth continues to prosper. 

Many protestors carried candles that they hoped to burn through the night. 

Food and drinks were donated to protestors and musical instruments resonated throughout the park. 

Protestors downtown have vowed to stay as long as they can.

As of Sunday afternoon, about 500 protestors were still occupying the Civic Center and made a request through the “Occupy San Diego” Facebook page to receive blankets and sleeping bags.

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