As my friend and colleague Greg Mitchell noted today in his invaluable live-blogging of the Occupy movement, “Perhaps the biggest little-told OWS local story is the massive number of arrests for OccupyTucson. Another 20 yesterday boosts overall total to an astounding (for the size) 351.”
And, unlike in Oakland, local authorities aren’t even trying to convince the rest of us that the Tucson police reacted defensively and appropriately in trying to ward off anarchist attacks. According to what Tucson Sergeant Maria Hawk told the weekly New Times, “most of the arrests were for remaining in a city park after hours.”
Hawk also estimated that on any given weekday in Tucson, there are about 100 “occupiers” demonstrating in city parks and on Tuesdays—when City Council meetings are held—and on weekends, that number increases to as many as 1,000 demonstrators. These are impressive numbers for a state without the liberal infrastructure of organized labor and nonprofit anti-poverty groups that has been supporting protesters in New York City, Boston and Washington, DC.
According to local activists, the Tucson Police Department is utilizing a strategy of financial and legal attrition to kill the movement by issuing criminal citations to occupiers who remain in any city park past 10:30 pm. This citation carries a $1000 fine, a potential prison sentence of six months in jail and up to three years probation. The rather sophisticated idea is to bleed the movement financially instead of using pepper spray and batons, which will only engender outrage and foster larger demonstrations.
So, here’s how to help:
Contact and implore members of the Tucson City Council to call for immediate dismissal of the charges against the occupiers and for the TPD to refrain from its strategy of legal harassment of nonviolent demonstrators.(Contact info here.)
Make a donation, if you have the means. You can rest assured that the money will go to a worthy cause.
Send food to the occupiers. Check out this list of participating local restaurants from which you can order food with your credit card. (I just had a pie sent over from the Brooklyn Pizza Company, 520-622-6868!)
Send supplies. Activists have singled these items as among their greatest needs: water proof tarps, heavy trash bags, dish soap, dry storage containers, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, blankets/sleeping bags and prepaid Wi-Fi/Internet/3g/4g cards. Mail what you can to: Occupy Tucson 1830 E Broadway #124-258, Tucson AZ 85719.
Like Occupy Tucson’s Facebook page for updates.