No immediate plans to kick-out Occupy TucsonPosted: Updated:
TUCSON, Ariz. -- The Occupy Tucson protest reached its twelfth day Wednesday. That means citations for violating curfew at Armory Park have been piling up.
Wednesday protesters got their first chance to fight the citations in court.
Members of Occupy Tucson who were cited in Armory Park last week were in city court for arraignment.
Almost 60 people filled Judge Wendy Million's courtroom which had the capacity of about 49.
One by one, they approached the bench and plead not guilty.
"Pretty clear that we're not guilty when the chief of police, and his officers going to give us a ticket and then he's going to allow us to continue to stay in the park after being ticketed," said Steve Johnston.
Johnston plans to represent himself at the pre-trial hearing next month.
While others have chosen attorney Paul Gattone to represent them. He says the city is wasting time, resources, and money by prosecuting the Occupy Tucson folks.
"It's ridiculous. It's like it cost about $2,000 per person to prosecute these cases so we're talking about the city is going to be on the hook for half a million dollars at this point," said Occupy Tucson Attorney Paul Gattone.
At camp in Armory Park, the site of the citations, the images of the Occupy protesters arrested in Atlanta and Oakland were painful for the group in Tucson to watch.
"I guess it's like a sense of sadness. These people are just were doing what they feel is right in a non-violent way and that's the beauty of this," said Karla Terry from Occupy Tucson.
Karla Terry has been cited more than five times for staying after hours in the park. She says if law enforcement plans to arrest the occupiers, they plan to take a peaceful stand.
"We're going to stand. We're going to stand and until, like they did to the very end, until we're evicted. Even if we get evicted there're still part time hours that we can be here during the day. Any little bit can help," said Terry.
As of right now there are no plans by TPD to kick the occupiers out, just to cite them for breaking the city code.
The pre-trial hearing is set November 17 at the city court and another packed house is expected.
Wednesday, Republican State Representative Terri Proud from District 26 sent a letter to Mayor Walkup and Chief Villasenor asking them to act soon and kick out the Occupy Tucson protesters for violating the law by staying at the park after hours.