I happily attended the Occupy Phoenix afternoon protest at Old City Hall. Lest anyone accuse me of being a one-sided closed-minded liberal, I will remind everyone that I also attended the first Phoenix Tea Party rally held at the Capitol Building in 2009. The Occupy Phoenix protest was not unlike the many others political protests I’ve been to: lots of people, signs, some people saying crazy things, other people saying smart things, shouting, speeches, anger, and police ever so close. But for the Occupy Wall Street movement to be successful, we need to do more than just raise hell and be angry. We need action and results, even though the anger is certainly justified. In Arizona we need more progressive candidates actually advocating ideas for long term solutions. We could start by fixing our horrific school system, addressing the disparities in medical care, and the treatment of immigrants, legal or otherwise.
I saw no problems at the protest on Saturday afternoon but the events of Saturday night turned ugly. Unfortunately I wasn’t at the protest in Hance Park when 200 Phoenix police (70 of them in full riot gear) pepper-sprayed and arrested 45 peaceful protestors, even though they had been instructed by Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon “to exercise ‘extreme caution’ – in practical terms, to maintain a non-aggressive stance and refrain from making arrests except in the case of violent acts on the part of the occupants.”
From the Occupy Phoenix website:
Former State Senate Majority Leader, civil rights activist and movement supporter Alfredo Gutierrez and District 9 Councilman Michael Nowakowski acted as liaisons between the Occupy Phoenix movement and the City Manager’s office… Gutierrez relayed a message from Mayor Gordon that if peaceful occupants were arrested, Gordon would arrive at the park to be arrested himself alongside the Occupy Phoenix members assembled.
But then the Mayor began to backtrack and the spin machine went into full swing. You can read all the details of the evening here, not surprisingly it is a story of dirty politics and ugly betrayal. These are the pictures I took during the less turbulent afternoon.