City Serves Notice On Occupy Arcata – November 16, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Note: This letter was delivered to Occupy Arcata this afternoon, Nov. 16, 2011. – Ed. 

November 16, 2011

Members of Occupy Arcata:

As a follow up from my visit yesterday with some members of Occupy Arcata who were present, I am drafting this letter to ensure all members have the same information.

On October 28, Occupy Arcata moved its protest from the Plaza to the front lawn of City Hall. As you have seen firsthand the protest has attracted a divergent group. As we saw with the protest on the Plaza, some people have taken advantage of Occupy Arcata to engage in illicit activity. This conduct has continued at City Hall despite the close proximity to the police department, regular police walkthroughs, and assurances from Occupy Arcata members of tighter control over unruly behavior.

Specific acts include the open use of drugs, the sales of drugs, consumption of alcohol, public intoxication, loose dogs, assault and battery, the illegal discharge of a BB gun, the shooting of a citizen with a BB gun, urination and defecation on public property, repeated smoking within 20 feet of the building, loud profane language in the presence of children visiting the recreation department, blocking disability access to City Hall, theft of property, and a disruption of City services.

Within five feet of the entrance to the recreation department the cement is saturated with urine. It has attracted flies and the stench is horrid. This entrance is used by many community members with their children to sign up for recreational programs the City sponsors. The encampment at City Hall has become a public health hazard.

I have been very clear with Occupy Arcata that the City of Arcata and our community support your constitutional rights and the rights of all people to peacefully and legally assemble. Most importantly no one individual’s rights are more important than another’s.

Lodging on public property without a permit or permission and the placement of tarps, tents, and other structures interferes with other people’s right to freely use public space. Furthermore, this prolonged type of use has created public health concerns.

Currently, you are unable to properly dispose of wastewater and solid waste. Insufficient food handling safety and sanitation creates an environment ripe for an enteric disease outbreak. While I believe the members of Occupy Arcata assume some risk to enteric disease, I cannot allow the general public to assume risk nor can I allow City employees to assume risk.

The activities cited above are injurious to public health and safety and also are violations of the California Penal Code and Arcata Municipal Code which are in place to protect the health, welfare and safety of the community.

Part of the mission statement for the Arcata Police Department reads, “We are committed to protecting the constitutional rights of all.” It is my belief [that] the protection of our civil liberties is the responsibility of all citizens.

To that end, I am respectfully asking you to end the encampment portion of your protest. I strongly encourage you to continue to assemble at City Hall but without the use of tents, tarps, structures, and food preparation and storage; thereby creating a safe environment for all people to exercise their civil liberties.

I believe you can engage in your first amendment rights of assembly and freedom of speech without endangering public health and welfare, adversely impacting community members doing business at City Hall, or endangering the health and welfare of City employees.

Please take notice that should the public health and safety issues continue we will have to expend limited public resources to ensure the greater community health and welfare is protected.


Tom Chapman

Chief of Police

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