Occupy Tucson has new home

2011 11 0403.57.04

TUCSON, Ariz. - For the last 20 days, Occupy Tucson was stationed at Armory Park, which was at the south entrance of downtown Tucson that had little visibility. Today Occupy Tucson is in the center of downtown where the movement will be highly visible to hundreds of pedestrians and motorists. After being forced out of Armory Park by the city manager and the Tucson Police Department, people will now have a better view and see what the Occupy movement looks like.

The first 20 days of the occupation were peaceful as general assemblies and group meetings were held despite the fact that nightly citations for being in the park after hours were issued. The citations carry a $1,000 fine, 6 months in jail and three years probation. Reports indicate nearly 500 citations have been issued. One occupier received three citations in one night, one at Armory Park, one at Veinte de Agosto Park and one at the Pima County Library Park.

Marches were held, one of which was a five-mile march to and from the University of Arizona to build student outreach. The marches downtown were led to rallies held at the various financial institutions and to City Hall. Occupiers stood before the mayor and City Council, and gave testimonies about why they're part of Occupy Tucson.

On the night of Nov. 3, one hour before midnight, Tucson's Police Department, with approximately 80 officers came into the camp and gave occupiers one hour to leave. Two hours later, the occupiers had peacefully "bugged-out" with no incidents and exited the park leaving it more clean than how they found it on day one of the occupation. A long line was stretched from one end of the park to the other and everyone walked and picked up every piece of trash as the line covered one end of the park to the other.

The camp is now stationed at Veinte de Agosto Park, in the heart of downtown Tucson and visible for hundreds to see daily. In short, the move could not have turned out better for Tucson's Occupy movement. Motorists honk as they pass the park in the early morning hours and every now and then, a motorist could be heard yelling, "Get a job!" The occupiers reply with... "I do, get a clue!"

One could feel the energy in the air after the midnight "bug-out" from Armory Park, as the occupiers knew they had accomplished something special, peaceful, and with no incidents. The move was organized, non-violent and orderly, with the help of some who had only been following the movement on the Internet. A call to action was issued on the Occupy Tucson Facebook page for the "bug-out" and the community answered.

But most believe the Occupy Tucson movement, with it's new and improved location, is growing and has gotten its second wind.

Alex Maldonado is an activist with Veterans for Peace and can be reached at thelatinodoctrine@gmail.com. Photo: Alex Maldonado/PW.