Occupy Tucson protesters seek help from council over citations

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- The protest called "Occupy Tucson" is wrapping up its fourth day in Armory Park.

The number of protesters has been fluctuating since it began on Saturday and while there have been no arrests, dozens of citations have been issued for being in the park after curfew.

The Tucson Police Department has issued more than 100 citations and those fines can be as much as $1,000 and even include some jail time.

Some protesters have multiple citations.

Tuesday night the Occupy Tucson movement marched to city hall to ask the city council for help.

Occupy Tucson spent some time occupying city hall, demanding that council members allow them to stay at Armory Park beyond park hours, or else.

"You're setting yourself up for major litigation personally and as a city," said a speaker at Tuesday's council meeting.

Protesters spoke during the call to the audience. During this time, the mayor and council cannot respond to speakers.

"But we shouldn't be telling TPD or the city manager of how to administer the ordinance or how to execute the ordinance," said Councilman Steve Kozachik.

Council member Steve Kozachik says he's somewhat hesitant about changing the park ordinance.

"How would you rewrite that?  That as long as it's a political statement that we should open up city parks to people?  I'm sure that people all over town would just be bouncing off the walls and say, 'Not in my park you're not,'" said Kozachik.

Councilwoman Karin Uhlich says she'd like to at least discuss options at next week's meeting.

"There is clearly city code that regulates the use of parks but there are also important constitutional questions being raised the right to peaceably assemble," said Uhlich.

The problem is protesters want a solution now.  Many of them believe the city can get behind them, despite legal hurdles.

"With all due respect there's no such thing as can't, just delete the t and you can," said occupier Jack Bybee.

It takes some time to actually change an ordinance.  Currently there is no solution.

Initially the Tucson Police Department had said they have not spent any money on overtime to patrol Armory Park, but have since indicated some overtime has been neccessary.

The amount spent on overtime has not been released.