By Sally Colton
The “Occupy” movement has been receiving loads of media attention since it began in New York in September of this year. The movement began as a result of the recent recession, and is aimed at Wall Street, big banks, and other large corporations that have been accused of unfairly manipulating the government and ultimately causing the recession.
While the entire country is struggling through this recession, Arizona especially has been hit. As a main victim of the housing crisis and with a current unemployment rate of 9%, it seems only logical that people in Phoenix started the movement only a month after it initially began.
Unfortunately, shortly after the movement began in Phoenix, there seemed to be some problems with the structure of the protests. The idea was to have people protesting 24 hours a day, so eventually people began putting up tents and “camping out.” However, according to P.C.C. §23-30(a-b), a Phoenix City ordinance, any person cited for camping in public parks, preserves, buildings, or parking lots (also known as Urban Camping), could receive a friendly class 1 misdemeanor. The ordinance defines “camping” as using real property for “living accommodations,” which is further described as storing belongings, laying down bedding, using a tent for sleeping, or any cooking activities. The statute applies regardless of whether people are participating in other activities besides camping.
Although the ordinance was designed to prevent homeless persons from living on the street, it conveniently (for the people on the other side of the protest, anyway) applies to some of the activities in which Occupy protestors have participated. This has given Phoenix City police some leverage in trying to send the protestors home, and may be affecting the impact that the movement will eventually have in the long-run.
Instead of being able to present a strong, clear, the protestors are being silenced because of their failure to follow a law that they claim isn’t even regularly enforced. It is time for them to regroup and hatch a new plan that will give them more strength in the long-run. Martin Luther King, Jr. used rallies and marches during the Civil Rights Movement that seemed pretty effective; maybe that would be a better option. Just something to think about.