Activists gather to ‘occupy’ downtown San Diego
By KEN FIELDS and JAMES R. RIFFEL
City News Service
A loosely structured protest movement that formed in New York City three weeks ago to decry the perceived sins of banks, corporations, political elites and other power brokers materialized in the opposite corner of the nation today as hundreds of chanting demonstrators took to the streets of San Diego.
Supporters of the social network-driven campaign — which began last month as a rally dubbed “Occupy Wall Street” before spreading across the country — began gathering at Children’s Park in the Marina district in the late afternoon before marching north to Civic Center Plaza at City Hall for a demonstration and “sit-in.”
There were no immediate reports of any unruly behavior or illegal activity among participants.
The event was staged in protest of the global financial corruption currently invading politics, media and corporations, exemplified by the recent financial-industry meltdown and subsequent recession,” according to the group’s website.
The participants would “peacefully occupy” the public courtyard indefinitely, or until they got desired action from “all levels of government, including the city and county of San Diego, the state of California, the federal government and … private and public banks and corporations,’’ the announcement stated.
The group did, however, agree to yield the plaza this evening to make way for an observation of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur that previously had been scheduled for this evening and Saturday morning.
Organizers of the protest rally did not immediately detail their self-described “list of demands.”
The ongoing demonstration will include marches, sit-ins, educational programs, “practice of the democratic process” and “general assembly meetings wherein solutions to overlapping issues are identified,” the group’s online message asserted.
Ray Lutz, a spokesman for the local offshoot of the movement, encouraged San Diegans to take part.
“The Occupy Wall Street movement is sweeping across the country,” he said. “People from all walks of life, political persuasions and occupations are joining together to demand that our economic system become more just. Join our movement. With you, we can bring about change.”
The “occupiers,” many of them young adults, have gathered in recent weeks in dozens of cities, including Los Angeles. The rallies have been largely peaceful, though in New York some protesters have gotten into scuffles with police, and hundreds there have been arrested.
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