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Occupy Sebastopol protesters apply for camping permit

By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Occupy Sebastopol demonstrators made a last-minute application Tuesday night for a special events permit that would allow them to continue camping at the town plaza.

City Manager Jack Griffin said the permit would be evaluated and a decision handed down by the end of the day Wednesday.

It kept alive, however, an issue of illegal camping that the City Council had hoped to resolve Tuesday night.

“There has been a de facto permit with no enforcement,” said Mayor Guy Wilson. “It is better served if we have this (decided) sooner than later.”

Depending if the city staff denies the application or applies conditions that are challenged, it may also mean another special council meeting later this week, Griffin said.

Occupy Sebastopol protesters have been at the town plaza since Nov. 5 and erected a small community, with six sleeping tents, a first-aid tent, a supply tent and a communications tent.

The number of participants during the day may be about 15 and as many as eight have slept overnight, but there have only been two people staying overnight the past few nights.

The city has not enforced its ordinance banning camping, but the City Council last Wednesday ordered the group to apply for a special events permit.

Petaluma attorney David Bush, who said he was retained by Occupy Sebastopol on Monday, filed the permit application at the council meeting. He asked the city to waive the fee, which could be $350 to $600, and the need for insurance.

At the same time, Bush argued that the camping should be considered free speech, despite the contrary ruling on Tuesday by a Supreme Court judge in the Occupy Wall Street case.

“The municipal permit doesn’t speak to what is happening at the park and across the country,” Bush said. “What is happening is free speech and peaceful assembly.”

More than a dozen people spoke in support of the protest.

“All of us are committed to seeing the movement in Sebastopol become a model for across the country,” said Lance Lancaster of Sebastopol, a Healdsburg High School teacher.

Sebastopol Police Chief Jeff Weaver said officers visit the camp nightly to talk to the inhabitants, make sure they have the police department’s direct phone number and to assess their well-being.

The protest has been peaceful, but police have made three arrests of people with outstanding warrants.

The latest was Tuesday morning, when Daniel J. Flynn, 21, of Long Beach, was arrested on an outstanding $2,000 warrant for alcohol-related offenses.

Police on Sunday arrested two men, identified as transients, at the camp on outstanding warrants on drug and theft charges.





2 Responses to “Occupy Sebastopol protesters apply for camping permit”

  1. Western Cluebird says:

    David Bush, attorney for downtown Sebastopol encampment could not finish his presentation in the three minutes allowed and told the Council that their time limit was unreasonable. The group seems to have no awareness of protocol in Council meetings.
    The next speaker, Chris tried to give his time to the attorney, without success, but Mr. Bush whispered into the ear of several speakers so they would know what to say.
    “Oh, yeah, we have decided to leave the town square in time for the tree lighting ceremony”. Of course the offer is probably only good if the city agrees to let them camp somewhere else nearby. It was even suggested they camp on the lawn of the police department! That’s one step closer to the high school and the skate park, but at least it would be under the watchful eyes of our law enforcement officers.

    No one in the group had submitted the special use permit before the close of business Tuesday as the council had requested.
    The attorney asked for a waiver for the fees and liability. Isn’t that what they are protesting- select groups getting bailouts or special favors from government?

    Linus Lancaster, a teacher from Healdsburg High said he brings a pledge of support (for the campers) from the Healdsburg Teachers association as well as endorsement from the California Teachers Association. “Our militancy is coupled with non-violence, and the police are us” he said.

    Thomas Morabito said “we are a new nine day old government and we want you (council) to just have patience with us.
    I must have missed the election that put these people in office. Maybe they don’t feel they need to be duly elected, they just appoint themselves. Come on down to the third tent from the left to meet your new Mayor.

    Jim Stoops claims that true patriots are occupying the moral high ground in the face of what he considers an often violent justice system, and it makes him angry that sometimes people in blue uniforms don’t have much regard for others.

    It sounds like this group is setting the stage to cry foul when police officers are forced to evict them.Their attorney is probably retained in order to file harassment charges against Sebastopol Police as soon as he gets the chance.

    Two people spoke in opposition to the encampment in the town square.
    The first one was ridiculed by the campers for wanting to drink coffee in the town square as she used to, without seeing tents and camp supplies everywhere, and the second was interrupted by them as she tried to speak, and hounded as she tried to leave.
    Apparently respect for free speech only applies to their side of the argument.

    The Council is concerned about less revenue coming into the city, and is planning a letter writing campaign to get people to shop locally.
    News flash- having transients and anarchists living in the town square will depress business more than any slogan or campaign can correct.

    Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  2. Enough Is Enough says:

    Sebastopol has turned into the road show for the big New York show. It’s a try out for the budding street theater troup in Santa Rosa and Oakland.

    When will the working citizens get fed up with this nonsense and demand and an end to this waste of police overtime and watching city councils twist in the wind?

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

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