The QueQue: Bye-Bye Occupy?, Science may win in censorship standoff with TCEQ
Published: December 21, 2011
Two months of cooperation devolved with a 15-minute ultimatum Monday when a handful of arrests at HemisFair Park effectively quashed the rosy relationship that’s existed between local police and Occupy San Antonio members. By midday Monday, at least six occupiers had been arrested for disobeying police orders to leave an area in and around a small, open adobe structure near the foot of the park by the Tower of the Americas. The marked transformation of the Occupy SA encampment into a police target started last week when park police began handing out copies of the city’s ordinance related to camping in public, telling occupiers they were in violation and would face class C misdemeanor charges and hefty fines (up to $500) if they didn’t quit making HemisFair their “temporary living quarters.”
Protesters had been in wait-and-see mode, enjoying an unusually calm and friendly relationship with local police even as non-lethal projectiles and pepper spray have become synonymous with police response at other Occupy camps across the country. After the October 6 march that sparked the local movement, gentle prodding from the city convinced protesters to move from Travis Park, their initial targeted encampment, to HemisFair. Occupy protestor Meghan Owen told QueQue last week that park police had made passing threats of full-scale eviction by January 1. “They’ve told us more than once that New Year’s is our eviction date.” Though police denied any plan of a scheduled eviction, occupiers said park police by Friday were shuffling them out from near a gazebo at the entrance to HemisFair, the group’s de-facto headquarters for most of the two and a half month occupation, telling protesters they’d have to clear that area until after a Celebrate San Antonio New Year’s event. By the weekend, however, police had chained off the gazebo and building porches throughout the park with “No Trespassing” signs. Protesters briefly relocated to a spot near the park’s playground that Friday, as requested by police, before setting up shop in a small adobe building deeper inside HemisFair.
The arrests started Monday morning after Park Police told protesters they had 15 minutes to gather their belongings and clear the area. At around 8 a.m., three occupiers refused and were arrested, including Robin Canter, a medic with the group, occupiers said Monday, and police roped off a wide area of the park with yellow caution tape. Officers arrested two more occupiers later that morning for disobeying police orders — at least one was jumping back and forth inside the taped off area, taunting police, occupiers said. At around noon, officers handcuffed protester Sharon Jarvis-Young, carting her off to a squad car in tears.