Occupy Arcata Protest Grows – October 25, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

After "JR" was loaded into the Arcata Police car, a crowd gathered to chant, "Occupy, Occupy." A few people briefly lay in the street behind the police car, but were removed and son, the numerous APD, UPD and CHP cars were gone. KLH | Eye

Kevin L. Hoover

Eye Editor

PLAZA – The kind of confrontation the City and Occupy Arcata (OA) protesters had been working to avoid took place Monday afternoon.

The City had tolerated various municipal code violations such as dogs and smoking on the Plaza during the protest in favor of compromise and reining in more permanant installations such as camping. City officials had said they would draw the line at tents and tarps, but Monday, they began to appear and police stepped in.

According to witnesses, an individual identified as “JR” had set up a tent on the Plaza center’s north side. When an APD officer issued him a citation and asked him to take it down, several others crawled inside the tent to prevent it from being removed.

At some point, according to Police Chief Tom Chapman, the man “physically bumped up against the officer, more than being obstructionist.” Witnesses with OA later disputed that account, and blamed the officer for overreacting.

The man was then arrested on a charge of interfering with an officer, and, said witnesses, was dragged across the North Plaza lawn to a waiting police cruiser.

The spectacle set off a huge reaction from Occupy Arcata participants and sympathizers, who swarmed around the police car as officers attempted to load the arrestee inside.

Units from Humboldt State and the California Highway Patrol arrived to asist, but were not required. Some protesters became extremely upset at the police response, chanting and yelling epithets at the officers.

Once the police cars drove away, the Plaza’s center still sported two dome tents. OA organizer Lois Cordova said the group had voted at the previous night’s General Assembly to go ahead and set up the tents and tarps Chapman had told them wouldn’t be permissible.

“We cannot condone camping,” Chapman said. “They obstruct access to the Plaza for others. How many tents do we say are enough?”

He wasn’t sure what would happen next, but Chapman said the tents were an unsustainable situation. “That’s going to be a problem,” he said. “When they put up tents, it’s going over the line.”

Following the confrontation, Chapman said “things need to cool off.” he said he was hoping cooler heads would prevail within the protest.

Chapman said Manila resident and former City Council candidate Geronimo Garcia was playing a particularly unhelpful role.

Garcia’s previous run-ins with police have earned him jail time, and even among anti-authoritarians, he seems to respond particularly poorly to law enforcement direction.

“It doesn’t help with Geronimo being an agitator and being confrontational,” Chapman said. “He’s yelling and making it difficult to work with people.”

It wasn’t clear whether the Plaza situation would further degrade or settle down, but the superheated tensions were not always thus.

Friday saw occupy Arcata, Jada Brotman's Queen Doubles stand and the Arcata High School Homecoming Parade coexisting peacefully. KLH | Eye

Friendly Friday

For a brief, shining hour last Friday afternoon, all the usual no-nos were non-issues on the Plaza.

There, a passel of pooches mingled with pot and cigarette smokers as Occupy Arcata protesters and police officers chatted amicably. Members of the Chamber of Commerce swarmed Jada Brotman’s Queen Doubles stand while gaggles of orange-clad high schoolers gathered to watch the annual Arcata High Tigers Homecoming Parade.

The small-town tradition of the Arcata High Homecoming Parade took the Plaza focus off Occupy Arcata for an hour or so. KLH | Eye

Propelling the unprecedented pluralism was the politics-not-as-usual protest by Occupy Arcata, then in its 21st day.

An Arcata iteration of the movement which has swept downtowns across the globe, occupy Arcata’s driving force is Trish Tillotson.

APD officers continued to issue citations for some offenses, such as this one for a dog allowed to run off-leash. Leashed dogs were allowed. KLH | Eye

Some have wondered what there is to protest in Arcata, where so many progressive values have already been implemented. Further clouding the OA protest’s mission were the dozens of individuals sitting around smoking marijuana and cigarettes, playing with dogs and other leisure activities just like any other day, except at the Plaza’s center rather than on the fringes.

One observer characterized Occupy Arcata as “two protesters and 40 of the same people who are out here all the time.”

While Occupy Wall Street is focused on wealth inequity and the cozy relationship between financial institutions and the government, Arcata’s protest focuses on homelessness and hunger issues.

On Thursday, Queen Doubles vendor Jada Brotman was exasperated with the Occupy Arcata protest for reducing her sales to a quarter of their normal level. KLH | Eye

“I see a lot of poor people on the Plaza without a place to sleep,” Tillotson said. “Community members turn a blind eye.”

She said one accomplishment of the OA protest was to get the City Council to resume consideration of a public restroom. However, Mayor Susan Ornelas had revived that project prior to the appearance of the OA protest.

Tillotson said a longer-term drive is to unify the community and promote social justice. “We need to communicate, get along and work together,” she said. “We’re trying to keep it all-inclusive.”

Not feeling included was Plaza food vendor Jada Brotman, whose Queen Doubles stand was getting only about a fourth of its usual business because of the OA protest and its discouraging effect on pedestrian traffic.

Brotman said she had started out supportive of the OA protest, “but as the days wore on and the customers ceased to appear, my heart broke into a hundred tiny pieces.”

Following publicity of her plight on Facebook, the Arcata Chamber of Commerce called for a mass Queen Doubles lunch-in on Friday. Numerous Chamber members and others turned out to enjoy the spicy Trinidadian chick pea tacos, and Brotman sold out that day.

Occupy Arcata organizers Trish Tillotson and Lois Cordova with Police Chief Tom Chapman. The three talk daily to keep communication and cooperation going. KLH | Eye

The cooperative spirit carried over into Saturday, when the OA base camp moved to the Plaza’s southeast quadrant in order to accommodate the Farmers’ Market. Even the protesters’ dogs were taken away so as not to jeopardize the market’s health code permit, though patrons continued to bring their animals to the market in defiance of signs and verbal warnings from North Coast Growers’ Association personnel.

Now what?

Monday evening, OA participant Lois Cordova said the group had consensed that tents are important to the protest and “part of the issue.”

“Human rights include a place to sleep,” she said. “That’s what occupations are.”

She said the Monday incident would likely bring more protesters to town to show solidarity with Occupy Arcata.

“That’s not where we started, but that’s where we are,” Cordova said.

Mayor Susan Ornelas dialogues with protesters Monday morning. The topic was a public restroom, something Ornelas has been trying to get the City Council to reconsider long before the Occupy movement was born. KLH | Eye

Tags: , ,

35 Responses to “Occupy Arcata Protest Grows – October 25, 2011”

  1. Domino 21

    Rule of law or anarchy?

  2. Demanding corporate change and other structure changes are relevant discussions as we, the 99% of the country race to the bottom, while incomes don’t support us. Having homeless join with the working class, joining with underwater morgage holders, to say we are not apart in our struggles advances the discussion. Even the police have trouble with their mortgages and non-living wage.

    The conversation and demands are not clear yet, just that an ongoing powerful redesign is needed with wall street and corporations worldwide. The thousands of local protests, such as our plaza, add up powerfully. And yes public bathrooms would add to the dignity of our citizens.

  3. Michele

    This is terrible. The Arcata Plaza looks like a homeless shelter, not like a focused protest. Many of the people I talk to are not sympathetic to those that are hanging around there. They are the same people who pandhandle, smoke pot and make Arcata feel like an unsafe place for pedestrians. Ok, you’ve protested, now leave so everyone can enjoy the Plaza once again.

  4. Kevin K

    I’m not surprised ,but I thought they call the National Guard remember Kent State

  5. David LaRue

    Today was the first time I was ever fearful to walk the plaza. It would just thick with bad vibes and shady looking people. I wanted to take some photos but I was fearful of what would happen if I pulled out my camera. I noticed the plaza was empty of all the people we usually see there. The only people left were the occupy thugs.

    We, the people of Arcata, need to take back OUR plaza! This is ridiculous!

  6. Robert Sager

    The police officers did nothing wrong on Monday, and they remained professional and in-control, despite the constant heckling they were enduring. Presently, there are about 13 or 14 tents on the plaza. I don’t understand why the city is allowing this to continue. If one person was cited for camping on the plaza, I don’t see why all of them are not being cited.

  7. Michael T.

    I am so disappointed to see this occurring here, and in such a manor. I find it difficult to articulate the frustration I feel when reading this and stories like it. I fully support gathering to exercise our valuable freedoms to unite and speak out against a clearly corrupt and greedy financial system with our government neatly stuck I’m their back pocket. But to go out and flagrantly break laws, make people to feel intimidated, or unsafe in any way, and ruin a woman’s business for several days is maddening. Kudos to the public leaders present and reaching out, and to law enforcement for showing great restraint and truly trying to keep the peace while heaped with insults from a petulant few. Let’s all go get a chick pea taco and be a little respectful. Make this a place where mom can take the kids and teach them what it means to be free, and a citizen, and how to protect theirs, and everyone’s rights. Let’s get it together people.

  8. chad f

    City Hall has a public bathroom. They could use that :)

  9. Mark Sailors

    I have been keeping the pedalcab home since this started. We are losing money every day. Today i saw the owner of Queens Doubles in tears, openly weeping because this is killing her business. Mine as well.
    Hey Occupy Arcata, we are the 99% and you are killing us… :(

  10. rob

    wait, a buncha slackers in downtown? annoying/being annoyed by the cops?

    how is this any different from any other day in arcata?*

    *it IS kind of annoying that the public restroom at the bus stop is restricted to greyhound passengers, and not citibus riders, however, but anyplace north of SLO all the way to about newport, oregon, is remarkably difficult to avail oneself of conveniences that are taken for granted elsewhere(restraurants with 14 seats or more, paying customer, gas station, etc)

  11. rob

    (note, that last line of mine , is a reference to places that traditionaly host public conveniences, but slo & points north,refuse access to on a regular basis-with a few exceptions)

  12. annoyed resident

    so, what exactly are these so called protesters asking for? seems to me this trish woman is just bored and likes the ego boost she gets when other occupy movements across the nation “like” her status updates on facebook. she uses the occupy arcata facebook page to push her own personal beliefs and agenda and even to the “like” bands celebrities etc. from what i can gather it is this one woman who is feeding/providing coffee to the handfull of transiensts who normally only take up one corner of the plaza but now are taking up the entire area making it uncomfortable for those of us who actually contribute to and have something invested in this community. she is starting fights with police officers, she has set up a kitchen and tents. there are open containers and dogs running around. the other day i took my son for ice cream and sat on a bench on the plaza, something we have done at least once a week for 3 years only this time we left quickly when 2 transient men started a game where in people were kicking others in the genitals. there are plenty of laws being broken here, these people are not simply exercising their first amendment rights. i fully supported the occupy movement in the beginning, and still do in certain aspects, but all this particular group is doing is making the plaza look like shit and forcing families like myself who pay taxes to maintain the plaza to feel unsafe there. not to mention the small/local businesses they are negatively affecting. they are doing the opposite of what they are preaching. not to mention that besides a handful of statistics this woman trish seems to have very little factual information about government/polotics/big business etc. she is just an idiot with a lot of cardboard a few sharpies some rice pudding and way too much time on her hands. she could plant a garden and stop using disposable coffee cups (which she is seen holding in nearly every photo) and evoke more change than she is on the plaza.

  13. annoyed resident

    forgive the typos.. i know there are a few but dont feel compelled to fix them.

  14. worker bee

    I work on the Plaza and agree %100 with the Occupy Wall Street cause. The Occupy Arcata protest has been co-opted by our transients and homeless. I did recognize around a small handful of locals, but nearly 85% appear to be young transients. Arcatans are known to be liberal and very tolerant, however the OA tactics are trying even the most liberal of us. There appears to be no involvement of working class people, students or families. The OA protesters are hurting any cause they profess. Maybe community members like John Shelter or Dave Meserve can get this under control. The locals are getting restless.

  15. Rob

    >>> Arcatans are known to be liberal and very tolerant, however the OA tactics are trying even the most liberal of us.

    no, it isnt, I can name any # of communities that are painted as ‘;conservative’, where you can smoke a cigarette, or play with your dog on the town square, or strum a guitar, with the case open for tips without police citations.-denton, tx, and hays, ks spring to mind as examples.itss the uber liberal towns such as arcata, boulder, etc, that have a reputation for fascism, to be honest.

  16. Rob

    (the towns I mentioned also dont restrixct people from using the damn bathroom in the local transit centers)

  17. Rob

    I dont smoke, but i find the idea of a town telling people they cant smoke OUTSIDE laughable.

  18. Ah, fascism makes an appearance. Hitler/Nazis/the SS won’t be far behind. 3… 2… 1…

  19. Rob

    kevin, im being facetious to some degree, but for a better comparison:

    boulder, co,(uber liberal-even the sheriffs a democrat) swings the hammer mightily on cigs on the downtown pedestrian mall.

    by comparison, vail, co-which named the town skating rink after a repepublican president, has NO problem with the occassional intinerant vendor/musician/dog owner/ cigarette smoker.

  20. Rob

    *note, in CO, the sheriff is a county official, not city, and thus has very limited citing authority within the city limits, but you get the idea.

  21. Rob

    & frankly, its particularl;y egregious that the arcata city bus station, which was built at TAXPAYER expense, only allows GREYHOUND passengers, and NOT citibus/hta or amtrak thruways passengers access to the restrooms there.-only liberal towns play this game in my experience-go to the paso robles (as conservative as it gets) citibus station, and encounter no such restrictions.(even tho, its also a ghound stop)

  22. Rob

    want to smoke a cig on the downtown park in paso?

    play with your dog?

    leave your guitar case out for tips?

    display your art for sale?

    no problem, if on public prpoerty.

  23. Rob, that’s because feral fuckwits destroy the bathrooms. Greyhound passengers don’t. Get it?

  24. Rob

    except: the only people awaiting greyhound in arcata are the feral fuckwits that have just been cut loose from pelican bay (which has a contract with del norte to transport them one county away, give them a ‘gate check’ for $200, and a greyhoudn ticket to their home county upon parole.-anyone with any comon sense just catches the hta to eureak and connects with the garberville commuter bus(under $6,) or hitchikes south from there.(not to mention many places on 101 refuse to accept greyhounmd passengers due to their ferality-garberville, and leggett, for example, both let agreements with greyhound expire in the interest of local merchants not being shoplifted from as much by pelican bay releasees)

  25. Rob

    that whole $200+ a hound ticket, thing, by the way, no doubt is a huge contributing factor to the dbaggery around the transit center on the 1st, 15th of every month and shorty before christmas.it definitely influences other border towns near san qeuentin , such as rohnmert park in those time frames

  26. Rob

    the issue, however, is, if ive just paid to ride the HTA (which aint cheap, btw), and been on it, for over an hour, and my detination is near one of the 3 or 4 limited stops, I should be allowed to pass water.

  27. Rob

    ps, kevin, I apologise, my tyoing is not exacly journalistic quality

  28. S’okay, neither is mine.

  29. RangerX

    Rob, to begin with, the merchants had nothing to do with less Greyhound stops, that was a cost-cutting decision a few years back from Greyhound. Note that they don’t stop in Fortuna anymore either, not exactly the most hippy-friendly place around here. 2nd, there is no such contract between Del Norte and Pelican Bay – upon release a parolee must report to their county of residence with all due haste. Next, the “liberal” cities attract the travellers precisely because they are “liberal”, and generally speaking allow people to live in peace whatever their status may be. A significant portion of those travellers then are disrespectful of the community that they are visiting, the citizens of that community get sick of it, and enact laws to prevent their town from being something that they don’t want it to be. Would you prefer your kid to play in a park with dog shit, smoke, loose dogs, etc.? The “conservative” downs don’t need to enact such laws because they aren’t visited in great numbers by people who are so disrespectful. Finally, every single time a public bathroom is left un-monitored for any amount of time in Arcata some A-hole trashes it (again, disrespect) – unless you have the time to serve as an unpaid bathroom monitor (at which point someone will bitch about “big brother” watching you pee), it just ain’t gonna happen until people stop behaving so rudely.

  30. Rob

    uh, del norte drops em off @ arcata.w 200 bux & a GREYHOUND TICKET.(specifically cus crescent city.del norte wont have em hanging around)

    * the then owner of the peg house, and numerous merchants in garberville some while back, all asked greyhound to no longer stop there, specifically because of shoplifting issues, notably by pelican bay parolees.(amtraks thruway service, which attracts a higher class of clientele still serves both communities, and more importantly, the pelican bay louts arent on it, and yes pb does have a contract with del norte to ensure that parolees are at least one county away.san quentin has a similar contract with marin.the releasees arent allowed to disembark until sonoma.(tho san quentin generally uses golden gate transit)-the first disembarkation point north of marin tends to be the rohnert park safeway.and since its near a motel 6, which takes cash csutomers, goofiness ensues in that area on the 1st 15ht & around christmas.

  31. Rob

    almost a good argument, except: all the conservative towns I mentioned (paso robles, denton, tx, vail, co, have NO PROBLEM with any of the aforementioned social activities that make a vibrant town square/pedestrian mall)such as palying with your dog, selling your art,/guitar for tips, smoking cigs, and yes, being allowed to pass water upon disembarking the local citibus at the CITY BUS STATION.

  32. Rob

    circa 2002 I rode a bicycle up the coast, and the then owner of the peg house was particularly vigilant upon the greyhiunds arrival.the amtrak bus, not so much.you do the math

  33. Rob

    see, its even more annoying, since greyhounds have onbaord latrines, and hta./citibus (who the city bus station was built FOR) dont.–seriously,how exactly did greyhound(a PRIVATE CO) become the keeper of the key to said PUBLIC facility?

  34. The Greyhound riders are members of the public, and are unlikely to do to the bathrooms what the locals did.

  35. worker bee

    Rob, There’s plenty of people smoking cigs and ganja everyday on the plaza. I also see many dogs on the plaza as well. The ordinances were created to keep the cig buts and dog shit at a minimum. If your idea of freedom is to dogs run around and chain smoke on the plaza, then maybe you should try a new town, like Fortuna or Ferndale.

    There was another arrest today after some dude torn down the organizers tent/canopy after she asked him not to place a tent up. The Plaza was better today, but one of the “protesters” mentioned that they were going to move to city hall. The whole thing is really a joke.


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.