October 15th #Occupy Phoenix

Official seal of City of Phoenix

Image via Wikipedia

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

John F. Kennedy

The following is copied verbatim from webadmin of #Occupy Phoenix. For more information, contact http://media@occupyphoenix.net. Thank you.

“Members of the #OccupyPhoenix movement, joined last night at Margaret T. Hance Park in solidarity with #Occupy movements across the nation and worldwide, experienced firsthand the effects of civil servants more beholden to the interests of a wealthy minority than the populace they are sworn to represent.

The #OccupyPhoenix General Assembly came to consensus on the formation of temporary team of negotiators with the goal of coordinating with local police and city officials to ensure that the occupation would be safe, healthy, and peaceful. Former State Senate Majority Leader, civil rights activist and movement supporter Alfredo Gutierrez and District 9 Councilman Michael Nowakowski acted as liaisons between the #OccupyPhoenix movement and the City Manager’s office.

In contact with Gutierrez by phone, Mayor Phil Gordon approved the evening’s occupation, stating that police observing the protest had been instructed to exercise “extreme caution” – in practical terms, to maintain a non-aggressive stance and refrain from making arrests except in the case of violent acts on the part of the occupants.

After a meeting with Phoenix Chief of Police Joe Yahner and an assistant in the City Manager’s office, in which the negotiations team was told that Mayor Gordon’s approval had not been relayed to the Phoenix Police Department and no city officials present were empowered to approve an occupation past the park’s posted closing time, a higher-level meeting at 9 PM was proposed, and the negotiations team prepared to negotiate with the city in good faith and reassure city officials that the occupation would remain peaceful and safe, and that the occupants would self-regulate noise levels and attend to sanitation concerns. Gutierrez relayed a message from Mayor Gordon that if peaceful occupants were arrested, Gordon would arrive at the park to be arrested himself alongside the #OccupyPhoenix members assembled.

The meeting was moved to 9:45 PM and moved to the nearby Lexington Hotel. City officials present included Yahner, Nowakowski, District 8 Councilman Mike Johnson, (nameDeputy City Manager Rick Naimark, and City Manager David Cavazos, tapped for the role two years ago over more qualified candidates after aggressive lobbying from Paradise Valley developer and fundraiser Wayne Howard. Upon hearing of Mayor Gordon’s statement that he would join #OccupyPhoenix in being arrested, Cavazos and team immediately withdrew from the room to make telephone calls. When they returned, it was not to open negotiations in good faith, but to deliver an ultimatum – the park would be closed, the assembled would be told to disperse, and any remaining would risk forcible removal and arrest.

When the negotiations team returned to the park to inform the General Assembly of the City’s bad faith, H.L. Davin Wright stated, “I’ve never felt more betrayed by those who have asked for trust.” Mayor Gordon’s spin machine was already active – David Leibowitz, the freelance PR operative given a no-bid, nearly six-figure contract last year to work part time as Gordon’s personal media consultant, hustled through the park in search of writers for ASU’s Downtown Devil. He mistakenly approached a member of the #OccupyPhoenix media team, who immediately identified as such and asked for commentary. Leibowitz identified himself as the Mayor’s official spokesperson, and offered the same backpedaling talking point which entered circulation soon after Gordon’s comments about offering himself for arrest in solidarity with #OccupyPhoenix were made public. “I was not party to any conversation between the mayor and Senator Gutierrez. The Mayor’s cause is civil rights and issues like SB1070. His cause is not this protest.” Leibowitz was successful in his attempt to influence the Downtown Devil to remove their reporting of Gordon’s statement and replace it with his own spin, but not before the original statement had already made its way across multiple social media networks.

The #OccupyPhoenix movement is pleased to learn that Phoenix Mayor Mike Gordon (name correction by the author: Phil Gordon) is a champion of civil rights for the remainder of Arizonans not included in the 99% in whose support the movement assembled throughout the day and evening. The movement can offer naught but condemnation for City Manager David Cavazos, whose underhanded tactics could be generously termed a negotiation in bad faith but would be more accurately described as outright betrayal. On the bright side, last night’s events should be sufficient to overshadow the controversy surrounding both his business lobby-sponsored promotion and his 5-day suspension in 2006 for the misappropriation of taxpayer funding for first-class travel.

#OccupyPhoenix would like to express its sympathy for those of us who find themselves attacked with chemical weapons and detained tonight in the name of safety by our brothers and sisters who forget that they too are of the 99%, and regret the negative results of an attempt to negotiate in good faith with those who have shown themselves strangers to the very concept. We urge the movement to remain committed to peaceful protest despite the despicable actions of those we’ve trusted to lead us, and hope that the egregious darkness in the hearts of those who rule us will only spur the movement on and bring more to ally themselves with us publicly in the furtherance of our cause, dear to Arizonans and indeed all Americans – that we will be just in the face of injustice, that we will hold love in our hearts against those who can hold only arms, that we will neither stumble nor falter, that we will march on.”

It seems the City of Phoenix and the State of Arizona, dominated by a libertarian mind set, do not recognise the US Constitution, or perhaps, they prefer to cherry pick. Whatever happened to the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of speech? What about the concept of a right to redress the government for a citizen’s grievances? Oh, yeah! I forgot. That only applies to the federal government, not to cities. A city can do whatever it wants. Gotcha!

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About Stefan Jacke

MagicRobert presented me with a vellum document, composed in an insane script. We were in a well secured vault in the Michener Library. His face exploded into a broad smile, as he saw me recognize the words, "That government governs best which governs least." It was a copy of "On Civil Disobedience" in the author's own hand. The experience called to mind a conversation Henry David Thoreau had with Ralph Waldo Emerson, as Thoreau sat in a jail cell, incarcerated for protesting the Mexican War. Emerson asked, "David, what are you doing in there?" Thoreau responded, "The point is, Ralph, what are you doing out there?" Once, long ago, I jumped off of big red trucks, lifted weights, and cleaned toilets for a living. Then I wrestled drunks, ran around in circles, and got splattered with blood and all manner of body fluids for a living. Now I enjoy the stillness of early morning in my rocking chair on the porch, with a hot cup of coffee, trying in vain to forget the past. Thank you, Robert!
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One Response to October 15th #Occupy Phoenix

  1. Pingback: With My Own Eyes | Visiting #OccupyPhoenix | Homebrewed Theology

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