Students and Protesters occupy San Diego

by Kevin Smead

Protesters in San Diego came dressed in a vast array of attire and costumes. | antonio zaragoza, photo editor
Protesters in San Diego came dressed in a vast array of attire and costumes. | Antonio Zaragoza, Photo Editor

The Occupy Everywhere movement came to San Diego this weekend in the form of Occupy San Diego.

Around 1,400 participants showed up for Friday’s events that were centered on various topics such as jobs and income inequality in America.

The day’s proceedings began at Children’s Park on First Avenue and Island Street near the convention center. Protesters began to gather in the early afternoon to make signs and organize the security team, consisting of volunteers distinguishable by their yellow armbands. The main event of the day was a march from the park to the Civic Center Plaza downtown several blocks away. At around 4 p.m., the march began.

Winding their way through downtown, Protesters marched and chanted slogans such as “Wall Street is our street” and “We are the 99 percent.” The route was designed to pass by the local buildings of Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and the California Bank and Trust. Many looked on from sidewalks and residential windows, taking video clips and pictures with cameras or cell phones. The majority of Protesters also carried signs with different slogans aimed at Wall Street, the government and politicians.

Once the group reached Civic Center at around 5:30 p.m., several short speeches were given. Following that, the group made its way back to Children’s Park out of respect for the Yom Kippur service taking place at the Civic Center that evening, despite the center being the occupation destination. Back at the park, Protesters mingled and later that evening a sort of open forum was held, giving anyone who wanted to speak a chance. The Protesters spent the night in the park with the intent of marching back to Civic Center on Saturday to begin the occupation. Those occupying stayed in tents and sleeping bags, and mostly relied on donations of food and water from other Protesters as well as outside parties.

Though the police were in attendance, they were clear in their intent to support the Protesters, not hinder them. In a statement Friday, Assistant San Diego Police Chief Boyd Long issued a statement saying the department is there to help the Protesters get their message across. Officers were also there to help guide the protest, following on motorcycles and bicycles.

A number of organizations were represented, including San Diego State. Several students carried a banner with the name of the university spray painted in black and red across it. Other students in attendance most cited the protest’s great importance to students both current and alumni as their reason for attending.

“With so much of the budget issues, and our classes are getting larger, our faculty not having enough money to pay for what they need, most people graduating don’t have jobs,” Kenzie Mcdonald, a senior graduating this semester, said. “If we’re not getting jobs, then why are we going to college? We need to change our system by being here and telling them this is not OK.”

“The laying off of teachers, increasing class sizes and a difficulty in graduating in four years are becoming the new normal for students,” a graduate student at SDSU, Ricardo Ruiz, said. “I think we’re starting to link it up with the greed on Wall Street and the wars abroad. We’re taking our own particular grief and connecting it with broader developments, and seeing that what affects students is affecting everyone else.”

Occupy San Diego is part of the greater Occupy Everywhere movement that is occurring across the country. Beginning with Occupy Wall Street in New York City, the movement has spread to many states. The movement has no defined leader and is focused around the issue of income and economic inequality. This is based on the idea that 1 percent of Americans hold the majority of the country’s wealth, making the general populous the other 99 percent.

While the greater movement as well as the one currently taking place in San Diego has no set agenda, the Protesters are currently occupying the Civic Center indefinitely.