Friday, December 2, 2011

Occupy OC encampment peaceful: No raid, arrests like other places

*This article was originally published by the Viễn Đông on 2 December 2011. It was reported by Vanessa White.

IRVINE, California—Unlike the reported violence in other highly publicized Occupy encampments nationwide, a local Occupy encampment has remained relatively calm.
That is, aside from nearby residents complaining about cars honking and the condition of the grass near Occupy Orange County (OC) Irvine tents.
Occupy OC Irvine is protesting in solidarity with cities involved in the Occupy Movement that started in New York City and San Francisco in September 2011, inspired by pro-democracy protests that spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa during the Spring 2011.
Although mainstream media criticizes the movement for lacking organization and a clear set of demands, the Occupy protesters, or Occupiers’ messages tend to focus on economic, political, and social inequalities.
The movement has incorporated cities nationwide as well as internationally, being welcomed in some places yet met with violence and arrests in others.
Protests in New York City and Oakland, for example, have been highly publicized as resulting in clashes between Occupiers and riot police, sending people to the hospital with serious injuries.
Nationwide, over 5,000 arrests have reportedly been made due to the protests.
No arrests have been made at Occupy OC Irvine, though the time is coming near for its encampment to possibly be removed from the front of Irvine City Hall.
At the 22 November 2011 Irvine City Council meeting, the council granted the Occupiers 24 hour access to an area of grass in front of City Hall as their encampment’s designated area until at least 6 December 2011.
President of the Tustin Unified School District Board of Education Mr. Lynn Davis told the council at the meeting that mutual respect has been shown among government officials, people, law enforcement, demonstrators, and neighbors affected by and influencing the Occupy OC Irvine encampment. 
“The City of Irvine, the Irvine City Council, the Irvine Police Department and Occupy Orange County all deserve our thanks and congratulations,” he said. “You all have once again shown why so many people speak so highly of the Irvine community.”
However, Occupy encampments have experienced crackdowns and dismantling in larger cities nationwide, recently, for example, in nearby Los Angeles (LA).
Occupy LA arrests, raid
On 28 November 2011, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) arrested four people after thousands of Occupiers faced police officers armed with batons and riot cuffs.
The LAPD was responding to LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s 28 November 2011 midnight eviction deadline for Occupiers to move their encampment from the LA City Hall.
Yet, the Occupiers did not leave and the police did not force them to until 30 November 2011 when the LAPD held an early morning, massive sweep of the encampment, arresting more than 200 Occupiers.
Although the Viễn Đông and mainstream news media initially reported that there were no injuries during the sweep, Irvine Occupiers who were at the raid have since told the Viễn Đông that there were people injured.
The Occupiers continued, saying that the police were more forceful than the mainstream media has reported, as they were pushing, striking, and even shooting Occupiers with rubber bullets.
News crews were set up behind police lines on W. 1st St. and the police first moved in on the encampment from inside of City Hall, blocked from the cameras.
As the encampment was cleared, it is uncertain where the LA Occupiers will reconvene as a long term community, though Irvine Occupiers have welcomed the group to their encampment.
More Occupiers at Irvine City Hall would mean they would need to seek more appropriate accommodations, like a building possibly, an Irvine Occupier, Mr. Steve, told the Viễn Đông.
It could also increase the possibility of a police raid at the Irvine encampment.
Reasons for peace, no raid
“We’re really organized,” Irvine Occupier Ms.Anastasia told the Viễn Đông, adding that Occupiers take turns cleaning up trash in and around the encampment. “We’ve been a very peaceful movement.”
She continued, saying that the Occupiers had adhered to every request the city has made, including moving their tents every Tuesday and Friday so the grass underneath them can be watered.
Upon noise complaints from nearby residents citing excessive car honking, the Occupiers even created signs urging cars to refrain from honking.
“This Occupy has been very fortunate,” Ms. Anastasia said. “Our mayor’s on our side.”
The Irvine City Council is expected to decide at its 6 December 2011 meeting whether or not to allow the encampment to remain.

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