Occupy Irvine to Talk at the City Council today





Occupy banner

Not everyone can stay overnight, but many people can come to a meeting.

Occupy Irvine sent out this message this morning (edited slightly for time references):

Please attend the Irvine City Council meeting TODAY (Tuesday, Oct. 25) in support of the Occupy Irvine/OC movement!

For the past 10 days, the Occupiers on the corner of Alton and Harvard have had to remove their entire encampment EVERY NIGHT at 10pm in accordance with city ordinances! This means dismantling the pop-ups and all tents, packing all donated food, water and supplies and storing everything in a U-Haul off-site, and then walking or sitting on the sidewalks all night long (no sleeping is permitted) until they are able to set up their Village once again at 6am.

At the meeting, we will ask the City Council to immediately pass an emergency ordinance to allow those representing Occupy Orange County to camp overnight in front of City Hall for 30 days, in order to fully exercise their freedom of speech.

Individuals can speak to the Council for three minutes during the Public Comment period, which should take place at around 6:30. In order to be recognized, each person wishing to speak should fill out a Request to Speak Form and return it to the City Clerk (exact instructions below). Please use this opportunity to let the City Council know what the Occupy Irvine/OC Village means to you and why it should be allowed to remain at the corner of Alton and Harvard.

Even if you don’t wish to speak, your presence is still requested to show support for the Occupiers and their/our movement. Let’s fill the council chamber!

Thanks, and see you at City Hall (corner of Alton and Harvard in Irvine)

The instructions for “PUBLIC COMMENT” are as follows:

Any member of the public may address the City Council on items within the City Council’s subject matter jurisdiction but which are not listed on this agenda during Public Comment; however, no action may be taken on matters that are not part of the posted agenda. If you would like to address the City Council during the Public Comment portion of the Agenda, please complete the Request to Speak Form. The card is at the table at the entrance to the City Council Chamber. Please complete the card with your name and return to the City Clerk. The Request to Speak Form assists the Mayor in ensuring that all persons wishing to address the City Council are recognized. Your name will be called at the time Public Comment is taken by the City Council. City policy is to limit public testimony to three minutes per speaker (unless extended by the Mayor) which includes the presentation of electronic or audio visual information.

I’d modify a few things about the above statement.

First, if a lot of people are present, the Mayor can reduce public comments to 2 minutes apiece (or conceivably less.)

Second, while people may “ask the City Council to immediately pass an emergency ordinance to allow those representing Occupy Orange County to camp overnight in front of City Hall for 30 days,” I don’t think that there is any expectation that it will happen tonight.  It’s not on the agenda and would require a 2/3 vote to be included, which means 4 votes out of 5.  That’s unlikely.  This does get the demand onto the table, however.

Third, what protesters do want to do is to look the City Council square in the eyes and tell them what this protest is about.  Protesters want to see how the City Council reacts.  Is there hope for future cooperation?  Or is the choice protesters have simply one between suffering, quitting, or beginning civil disobedience — and inviting the sort of expensive overreaction that we saw in Santa Ana last weekend and in Oakland last night?

I’ll have a post (most likely in the early afternoon) about the state of play.  Here’s a preview: if it looks like we have reached an equilibrium where protesters comply with all city ordinances and the city treats the protest like a curiosity and waits for it to burn itself out, that appearance is deceiving.

People in Irvine are tired of being denied the ability to do what Occupy groups have done across the nation — stay on public land overnight to dramatize the loss of houses to foreclosure, the unaffordability of rent, and the general evisceration of the middle class, especially since the economy blew up in 2007-2008.

The notion that each protester arrested in Santa Ana this weekend has spent more time in prison than everyone from Wall Street involved in many of the largest financial scandals combined is mind-boggling.  People passed off CDOs (collateralized debt obligations) as AAA+ rated security instruments, secure in the knowledge that if the house of cards fell, they’d be bailed out by both normal (insured accounts) and extraordinary (bailouts) measures.  No one was arrested.  No one was arrested. Arrests are for the “little people.”

Irvine can enforce its ordinances — the ones that apply, at any rate.  (More on that later.)  But the irony that this is illegal and punished and that — pillaging of the economy, destroying countless lives of people who played by the rules, making assuring executive bonuses a priority over all others — is not punished regardless of its legality is unbearable for many.  If and when people commit the crimes of violating park closing hours or sleeping on the sidewalk, it will be to invite people to compare these crimes to those of pillaging the economy and walking away scot-free, bonuses in hands.

The people of Irvine most affected by these events are probably no longer around.  They lost their houses.  They lost their jobs.  They had to go live somewhere less expensive, less prestigious, less insulated from the bitterness of the world.  Or, perhaps, they’re about to have to leave.

This sort of protest is not supposed to happen in Irvine; Irvine is supposed to watch this sort of thing happen in Santa Ana or Los Angeles and sadly shake its head.  Why are protesters in Irvine?  Because protesters are never in Irvine.  Because Newport Beach and Costa Mesa and Mission Viejo are now looking at Irvine and saying “whew, glad this isn’t happening here!”

But it will happen in those parts of the coastal county too — Irvine just happens to be first.  As more and more people get screwed to the wall by an uncaring wealthy class, more of them will fight back even by means as passive and plaintive as simply sleeping where they are not supposed to sleep.

More and more people are losing their livelihoods — after which they have little left to lose.  They and those who sympathize with them are coming to Irvine today to look at the members of its admirable City Council in the eye and let them know that things have changed, that there is no more business as usual, that Orange County is not isolated from the problems of the world.

The Council probably won’t speak in response to public comments; that’s why the headline says “talk at” rather than “talk to.”  But every facial expression, every gesture, every fidget, every indication of sympathy or contempt, of solidarity or condescension, will be watched closely.

People want to figure out what they should do at the corner of Harvard and Alton.  By tonight, they should know.




About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)