Occupy Phoenix continues; nearly 50 arrested, cited

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX – The Occupy Phoenix protest, part of the now worldwide Occupy Wall Street movement, continued Monday morning with a few very dedicated participants who spent the night at Cesar Chavez Plaza in Phoenix.

Early Monday morning saw the smallest number of people since the protest began at noon Saturday.

On Sunday, about 120 people were at the plaza holding signs expressing their views and their disgust with what they call Wall Street’s greed. Many of the demonstrators sported buttons reading, “I am the 99 percent.”

The so-called 99 Percent Project, which is meant to share the stories of people who are not part of the 1 percent of the nation’s wealthiest residents and convey collective outrage over the pervasive social economic equality.

Since beginning over the weekend, 48 people have been arrested. Most of those citations have been for trespassing, being at Margaret T. Hance Park after the park had closed. According to the city of Phoenix website, the park is open 6 a.m.-10:30 p.m. daily.

Pete Szayer is one of those 48 people. At first, he was concerned that it might not be worth it.

“What happens is if we come out here and no one is occupying? Once we walked out … and we saw that there were people standing there cheering us on, it was definitely worth it,” he told 3TV's Ryan O'Donnell.

Szayer said he spent 18 hours in jail. Once he was released, he immediately returned to Cesar Chavez Plaza to resume his protest.

Those who avoided arrest did so by staying on the sidewalk, which, according to police, was perfectly legal.

More than 80 protesters were cited throughout the weekend at a similar event at Tucson’s Armory Park.

Those already at Cesar Chavez Plaza before the sun came up Monday morning said they intend to stay put and expect more people to join them throughout the day.

Molly Garvey, who plans to stay as long as she possibly can, said this is her first protest.

"I think it's an awakening," she said. "I think this is something that ... our world has been waiting to happen for a long time. ... It's a big eye-opener that this is going on everywhere."

Protesters have no intention of ending their occupation any time soon.

"We're here to give voice to the silent majority that has worked and slaved to make this country what it is," explained Ondi Scibilia Sunday evening. "We are here to tell them we don't want to be robbed. ... What we need is government for the people by the people.  We need to bring back our Constitution."

Arizona’s Occupy protests, part of a series throughout the country, have been peaceful. That’s not been the case everywhere. While the goal has been peaceful expression, some individual events have taken a violent turn.

The Occupy Wall Street movement began one month ago with 1,000 protesters in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan.

Critics of the movement say those participating in the Occupy Wall Street have no clear goals. Proponents say the beauty of the movement is that it encompasses many ideas surrounding the core issue of corporate greed, allowing it to become a "cultural phenomenon."

"The people-powered force of shared anger at a broken system that profits the top 1 percent at the expense of the rest of us has shifted our national dialogue," reads the Occupy Wall Street website.

The loosely organized movement swept through the U.S. and has now gone international.

According to estimates from those behind the Occupy Wall Street movement, people in 950 cities and 80 counties are rallying against corporate greed.

3TV reporter Crystal Cruz contributed to this report.