Police, protesters clash over ‘Occupy San Diego’ tent city

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Scuffles broke out Friday among police and protesters
taking part in the week-old “Occupy San Diego” protest at Civic Center Plaza,
with officers arresting one young man and pepper-spraying about a half-dozen
other people who tried to keep a tent from being forcibly removed from the
downtown courtyard.

The disturbances at the previously peaceful rally against perceived
societal, government and corporate misdeeds erupted in the late morning as
authorities tried to get the crowd of several hundred demonstrators to fully
comply with an order to clear all camping equipment, tables, signs and other
paraphernalia from the C Street concourse.

City officials issued the directive late Thursday afternoon, saying it
was necessary to allow for previously planned events at the public space in
front of Golden Hall. Many of the civic dissenters complied over the next 15
hours or so, but some defiantly remained.

About 7 this morning, officers forcibly removed a man who sat with about
100 other protesters on the ground in front of several tents and other
trappings, refusing to move.

The man, whose name was not immediately available, was arrested on
suspicion of resisting, delaying or obstructing a peace officer, Assistant
Police Chief Boyd Long told reporters.

The next clash took place shortly before noon, as police moved in to
remove one of two remaining tents. A group of demonstrators reacted by
surrounded it and linking their arms together, and during an ensuing struggle
at least one officer doused some of the resisters with chemical irritant.

One of the protesters involved in the fracas, 23-year-old Alfonso
Padilla of San Diego, said a woman who was hit in the face by the caustic
liquid still couldn't see a half-hour later.

“They sprayed her directly in the face for about 10 seconds,” Padilla
said.

Jessica Karle, a 22-year-old New York native, also described being
roughed up during the confrontation, saying officers shoved her, grabbed her by
the neck and kicked her feet out from under her.

Still, Karle was resolute about continuing to take part in Occupy San
Diego.

“I will be here until they carry me out,” she said. “We're going to
stay positive. We're going to attend to people with medical care and provide
food for whoever needs it.”

The assistant police chief said the pepper-spraying episode occurred
when demonstrators began pushing officers. Long stressed that the protesters
were welcome to remain at the civic plaza but were prohibited by municipal code
from setting up camp there.

A dance group has a permitted event planned for this weekend in the
concourse, and city officials expect a crowd of at least 2,000 people to
attend.

Categories: KUSI