Looming clash between Occupy Tucson and permitted events

Posted: Updated:
By Bryce Potter By Bryce Potter

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The Occupy Tucson movement has been holding its ground at Armory Park; even as events with permits are slated to take up that space in the very near future.

Tucson police continue to issue citations without actually evicting people, but next month "El Tour De Tucson" is supposed to hold its annual cycling event at the park.

Both occupy and El Tour have met on the issue, but reaching a compromise might not be so easy.

El Tour De Tucson is expected to attract thousands of cyclists to Armory Park on November 19.

The annual ride allows participants to raise money for various non-profits. The problem is the starting line is surrounded by Occupy Tucson protesters.

"We have gone through the proper process of permitting and permissions," said Michele Wyatt with El Tour De Tucson.

Michele Wyatt met with occupiers Sunday night.

"We are willing to work with them but we really do need to get feedback from the city and the police because there are certain safety issues," Wyatt said.

Safety issues, Wyatt describes as political overtones that might disrupt the otherwise non-political bike ride.

According to Wyatt there is no deal to share the space with Occupy Tucson.

"The agreement was those who wanted to move would move to one of our satellite parks," said Occupy Tucson's Sherry Mann.

She says the final word was that some campers would relocate to Veinte De Agosto Park or the newest occupy site near the main library, "That we would consolidate ourselves for the day for those that were left, that the kitchen would not move and that we would do everything we could to help Tour De Tucson."

"The city should not be expecting other groups to negotiate with Occupy Tucson that makes them the bad cop in this thing," said Councilman Steve Kozachik.

Council member Kozachik is pressing the City Manager and the Chief of Police to step up enforcement.

"I shouldn't be lobbying them.  None of the city council members should be lobbying them," Kozachik said.  "They need to look at the ordinance, sit down with the city attorney, put together a game plan, clear the park."

The issue of space and the lawful use of that space should come to a head as the November date nears.

This situation could get serious as early as next Saturday when the Procession of the Little Angels comes to Armory Park.

That will be a crowd of about 250 people.

The next council meeting is scheduled for November 9.