Despite citations, Occupy Tucson confidence growsPosted: Updated:
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Twenty-four hours after marching to City Hall. The Occupy Tucson protest is wrapping up its fifth day. Protesters believe they scored a small victory, despite no concrete decisions by the council.
TPD issued 11 citations Tuesday night, many fewer than in past nights, and Wednesday there was a renewed sense of optimism at the Occupy Tucson Armory Park encampment.
Tuesday there were a little over 5 tents staked out, but Wednesday Night it was a lot more crowded because protesters are confident their city council will do something to help them out.
It was a new day at Armory Park, protesters starting to see a bright spot.
"We're finally not so worried about getting evicted any second now," said Occupy Tucson organizer Jon McLane.
National media attention and a strong showing at City Hall Tuesday has turned the tide say protesters. They're confident a compromise is in the works to avoid taking this conflict to court.
"I think the city council is going to do anything they can to avoid getting to that point," said McLane.
But the confidence building in Armory Park may be a bit too premature. For now, nothing has changed. The law remains the same and the citations will continue.
"It may take several weeks to enact change if we believe it is widely supported by the public," said Councilwoman Karin Uhlich.
What's clear is the council can't make the citations magically disappear, that will be up to city courts.
"What's in our court as mayor and council, is how are the rules, are they balanced, are they right and do they really weigh those constitutional questions approprietely" said Uhlich.
At least one city council member for now says that although he understands the movement's frustration, he can't see himself voting to change the rules.
"If someone gets hurt down there, tonight for instance, and the city is sitting here watching and writing citations, that doesn't hold the taxpayers harmless from a liability lawsuit. That's what I'm concerned about," said Councilman Steve Kozachik. "At some point we have to bring this to closure. And the closure will be be, either get your permits and get your insurance, or get out."
But protesters say they don't need a permit to peaceably assemble and practice free speech. So for now, protesters say their message and their tents aren't going anywhere.
"It's up to the politicians to decide if this is a free speech zone," said Christophe Lovato with Occupy Tucson.
One of several options being tossed around by council members Uhlich and Cunningham is a 'freedom zone.'
But there are a lot of logistics that go into such a designation, so clearly a lot more conversation and negotiation must still take place.