Monday, October 31, 2011

Occupy Long Beach protesters have to abide by police rules, Irvine doesn’t


Palmer Luckey | Daily 49er

Occupy protestors walk through the Long Beach financial district on Oct. 7.

Occupy Long Beach protesters remain at Lincoln Park, moving each night to the adjacent sidewalk as they have done for the past several weeks, protesting the financial and government systems they believe create an inequality of wealth and opportunity.

In nearby Irvine, Occupy protesters have gained special permission from the city council to continue to camp in a large group outside of city hall.

"I don't understand a lot of what your message is," Irvine Councilman Jeffrey Lalloway said on Oct. 25 to protesters. "But, by all means, if you want to sleep on our lawn, sleep on our lawn."

In contrast, Occupy Long Beach protesters have been forced to stay on the sidewalk every night after 10 p.m. — Lincoln Park's closing time. Police have also enforced city codes that prohibit sleeping in temporary shelters, like tents and sleeping bags, on city property. The protesters have sought an exception to the rule, but have thus far been unsuccessful.

Near the start of the Occupy Long Beach protests at Lincoln Park, the city of Long Beach installed several diesel-powered floodlights to illuminate the park for safety reasons.

Protesters said the sound and smell of the lights was a psychological warfare tactic, aiming to deprive them of sleep.

"If you make it harder for someone to sleep, they are eventually easier to control, or may eventually blow up in anger, justifying a response that will attain the goal of emptying the park," Occupy supporter Ian Souter said on the group's official Facebook page.

Last week, the city replaced the diesel-powered lights with solar-powered lights that are borrowed temporarily from the Long Beach Airport.

The size of the protest group has been rapidly fading as time passes.

"Of nearly 5,000 members, we had no one show up for today's teach-in in front of Wells Fargo," organizers said on Friday. "A virtual online presence does not constitute participating in democracy."

The group of active protesters in the park has dwindled from nearly 300 at the start to less than 30 now, including several homeless people who had been sleeping in the park before the protesters moved in.

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