City Council Meeting Halted After Occupy San Diego Outburst
Meeting Halted After Disruption By Those Seeking Resolution Supporting Occupy San Diego
7:53 AM, Oct 25, 2011
Demands from representatives of Occupy San Diego for support from the City Council on Tuesday resulted in an early halt to the panel's morning meeting, but the afternoon session went off without a hitch.After a group of about 50 activists asked council members for a resolution of support -- similar to one passed by the Los Angeles City Council -- their chanting led council President Tony Young to announce that the morning session was over with about 30 minutes remaining.Jill Esterbrooks of Young's office said he halted the meeting "in order to clarify the best way to let people express themselves without infringing on others or preventing the city from conducting business. The bottom line is the 'Occupy San Diego' people want to protest, and as long as they obey the laws and chamber rules, we'll allow them to speak up."One of the protest organizers called it typical."The public comes in to talk to them they won't talk about it because they say the Brown Act restricts them from saying anything and then they leave," protest organizer Ray Lutz told 10News. "What kind of people do we have elected? Get the money out of politics and we can clean it up. If we don't, then all bets are off because they will undo any steps we make in the right direction by paying people off with legalized bribery, which is what we have today."The activists left the council chamber peacefully and sat through the afternoon session quietly. Before the meeting resumed, they huddled with city officials to discuss ground rules."I really do appreciate how this went this afternoon -- good job," Young said when the proceedings ended.Earlier, Occupy San Diego representatives were limited to three minutes during a non-agenda public comment period. Even though some activists last week requested a resolution of support, no such measure was placed on Tuesday's docket.Michelle Deutsch, with a group called Canvass For A Cause, led a chant to ask for a resolution.Deutsch and the other protesters said they would continue to stay in the Civic Center Plaza and nearby parks."We asked you to place this item on the agenda at the last meeting," she said. "You did not, so we ask you again."They asked for a special meeting to place the item on the agenda immediately."Again, if you do not place this on a future agenda, at this time, we will accept your passive consent to reoccupy the Civic Center Plaza and Children's Park and your action will be evidence of support for our constitutional rights," Deutsch said, as her words were echoed by the rest of the group.When the next scheduled speaker got up for his turn to talk on an unrelated topic, the protesters began chanting, "We are the 99 percent" and "Support us now."When non-agenda public comment resumed at the end of the afternoon session, an Occupy San Diego leader named John B. Kenney outlined a series of demands to the City Council: -- that the group be given permits to occupy the Civic Center Plaza, or that negotiations for such permits begin immediately; -- that police allow the protesters and their possessions to remain in the plaza, with no threats to remove them; -- that they be allowed up keep up to 300 tents in the plaza, and in return they will respect fire, health and safety codes, and accommodate special events at the Civic Theatre and Golden Hall; and -- that they be given free and unfettered access to all spaces in the plaza.Since police had the activists remove their tents from the area, they've generally been kept to a small area near the theater.