El Tour wants Armory Park to themselves

Posted: Updated:
By Bryce Potter By Bryce Potter

TUCSON, Ariz. -- As day 19 of Occupy Tucson wraps up, it's one day closer to the El Tour De Tucson event.

And El Tour organizers say they want the park to themselves.

No deal.  That's El Tour De Tucson's message to the Occupy Tucson movement.

"Yesterday, I decided to take a position without contacting the City of Tucson," said Richard DeBernardis from Perimeter Bicycling.

Occupy Tucson struck a deal with this weekends Procession of Little Angels event.

The protesters' kitchen and main infrastructure tents will stay.  But El Tour says when their event begins, everything has to go.

"I know I need every foot of space," DeBernardis said.  "Our whole plans have been done.  There's no room for anyone else."

The reasons are simple, they have a permit, they've paid, they've followed the rules.

At Armory Park, protesters are frustrated with El Tour's position.

"I'm hoping El Tour will come to a position where they'll realize we have to compromise on this," said Jon McLane from Occupy Tucson.

El Tour organizers say they have nothing against Occupy Tucson, but they shouldn't have to negotiate or compromise.

They stress it's time for the city to step up and act if protesters refuse to leave.

"It's only fair.  We're there one day," DeBernardis said.

The silent player in this political threesome is the City of Tucson. 

Wednesday the city released a statement:

To date, the City has been issuing citations to those who choose to remain in the parks overnight, in violation of City ordinance.   This cite and release approach has had limited effect in terms of deterring overnight camping in the parks.  In light of the upcoming events scheduled for and Jacome Plaza this weekend in which a few thousand children/families are expected to participate, we need to ensure the availability and safety of the parks for use by the general public.  Occupy Tucson has operated peacefully, and in the past has said they would vacate the parks so as not to interfere with planned events.  We are currently developing strategies to ensure that the use and safety of the parks is guaranteed for all.

The nature of the strategies mentioned in the statement is unclear.  But at least one council member doesn't seem ready to kick them out.

"We could certainly aggressively move forward in a direction but it makes no sense to do that if it's going to be reversed or if it's going to cause harm in the community," said Councilwoman Karin Uhlich.

El Tour officials have exchanged emails with the city manager's office.   The city manager has said the park will be there's when they need it, but no one has any idea what steps will be taken to make sure that happens.