Deadline imposed for 'Occupy Santa Rosa'

November 2, 2011 5:58:15 AM PDT
Occupy Santa Rosa participants face a deadline when their occupation at City Hall must end -- the protesters have been at City Hall since Oct. 15.

On Saturday, city officials gave them permission to camp overnight in violation of the city ordinance until today.

The city council this evening voted 7-0 to direct City Manager Kathy Millison and representatives of Occupy Santa Rosa to meet and try to reach an agreement when the camping must end.

The city council will vote on the terms of that camping permit next Tuesday.

Occupy Santa Rosa plans to remain at City Hall until Dec. 24.

City officials, who are considering a Nov. 7 deadline, are concerned about the lack of portable toilets at the City Hall site.

Dozens of Occupy Santa Rosa participants attended this evening's meeting to defend their rights of free speech and assembly.

Council members agreed but said the issue was the overnight camping.

"I'm not comfortable turning a blind eye to a city ordinance when it's convenient," Vice Mayor John Sawyer said.

"I'm not willing to ignore the ordinance. I wasn't elected to do it," he said.

"We need a template for getting out of this and coming out at the end together," Councilman Jake Ours said.

"This can't go on forever," Councilman Scott Bartley said regarding the occupation at City Hall.

"You'll lose your power and authority and your message. People will say 'It's just those people camping at City Hall.' As a community, we need to have a closure to this. The risk is the public grows tired of it and it loses its impact -- that would be a tragedy," Bartley said.

Allison Berk, a teen member of the council, said overnight camping might not be the best way for Occupy Santa Rosa to keep alive its message about corporate greed and the imbalance of wealth in society.

She suggested daytime rallies and marches and supporting political candidates in tune with the Occupy movements' message.

"This is nothing," one Occupy Santa Rosa supporter said of the Santa Rosa occupation. "You haven't seen the people yet. Treat them with respect."

He referred to the Occupy demonstrations nationwide as "the third revolution."

"We had an Arab Spring. I guess we're having an American Autumn," one woman said.

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