Eight Occupy Phoenix members arrested during 'sleep-in' protest

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Eight people were arrested on Friday night in Cesar Chavez Plaza while protesting an ordinance against camping in public spaces as part of the Occupy Phoenix movement. (Madeline Pado/DD)

Eight people were arrested in Cesar Chavez Plaza Friday night during the ongoing Occupy Phoenix protest while protesting the City of Phoenix ordinance against camping in public spaces.

Seven of those arrested were participating in the “sleep-in” and an eighth was arrested in the Plaza for possession of marijuana, according to Sgt. Trent Crump, spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department.

Even though protesting this ordinance does not fall directly in line with the main message of the Occupy protests – ending cooperate greed and the influence of corporations on government – protesters said it was still important to oppose this law because it is essentially making homelessness a crime.

“We are doing this to protest the law, and what (the police) do is up to them,” said 24-year-old Phoenix resident Kevin Hengehold, one of the sleeping protesters.

When approximately 50 Phoenix police officers came to arrest the sleepers, about 100 protesters were in the Plaza, much more than have been there at night over the last month.

The arrests happened quickly and without incident at the scene, with police arresting the seven sleeping protesters within 15 minutes.

It is unknown at what time the eighth individual was arrested.

Phoenix Police Department Det. Chris Wilson said the ordinance was created to help clean up Phoenix public spaces – generally parks – where homeless people would live.

Wilson said having homeless people living in parks is detrimental to neighborhoods, specifically for children who go to the parks and play.

In addition, Wilson said the ordinance does not outlaw sleeping in public. There are raised boxes around Cesar Chavez Plaza where Wilson said protesters could sleep without disobeying the law.

However, if they sleep on the ground, it becomes illegal because they are blocking a public thoroughfare.
According to chapter 23, section 30 of the Phoenix Municipal Code, “making preparations to sleep, including the laying down of bedding for the purpose of sleeping” constitutes camping.

ASU graduate Elizabeth Venable was one protester who got up before being arrested. She said the point of having people get arrested for violating the law is so the law can be effectively fought.

“You can’t challenge a law in court unless you’ve had someone charged with it,” Venable said.

Tempe resident Nick Katkevich of the Phoenix Nonviolence TruthForce said the protesters were not camping, they were peaceably assembling, in accordance with their First Amendment rights.

Katkevich was another one of the sleeping protesters.

Wilson said that while the First Amendment does guarantee citizens the right to assemble, that does not mean other laws do not come into effect as well.

“Some people are saying ‘the First Amendment trumps every law.’ The First Amendment doesn’t trump every law. Even the First Amendment needs to follow laws,” Wilson said.

Since the first night of protesting on Oct. 15 when 45 protesters were arrested, arrests have been much fewer and less frequent.

Wilson said there are usually a couple of arrests per night. People who fall asleep at the plaza are given several warnings and a citation before they are taken to jail.

The arrests since the first night also have been much tamer, with police simply tapping offenders on the shoulder and then taking them away.

Contact the reporter at connor.radnovich@asu.edu

Clarification: November 23, 2011

An earlier version of this article said eight individuals involved with the Occupy Phoenix protest were arrested for participating in a “sleep-in” at Cesar Chavez Plaza. The Phoenix Police Department gave this information to the Downtown Devil Friday, Nov. 18, but on Monday, Nov. 21, clarified that seven people were arrested as part of the “sleep-in” while the eighth person was arrested for possession of marijuana.

Comments

  1. Mike says:

    FYI, only 7 were arrested that night.

  2. Connor R. says:

    Mike,

    According to Det. Wilson, eight people were arrested at the scene. Independently, one of Wilson’s colleagues told me eight as well.

  3. Mike says:

    I have spoken to two of those arrested that night. They say there were only seven arrested during the sleep in protest.

  4. Peggy Plews says:

    They are known among occupiers as “the sleepy seven” for a reason.

  5. 2Borknot2B says:

    Since, by definition, OW represents 99% of the population, it’s impossible to precisely define what is wanted, but here are key concerns that keep poping up over and over again:

    1) We want the Glass-Steagle act re-instated. Oversite of Wall-Street.

    2) We want the Government to Stop the prolifaration of war by defunding the military industral complex.

    3) We need a fair and simpler taxation system.

    4) We want job security – by bringing the jobs back to the US.

    5) We want to restore democracy to the people, taking the $ out of politics and overturning the Supreme Court decision against Citizens United.

    6) We want to enforce truth in advertising – political ads should not be exempt.

    7) We want all lobbying efforts to be public – no more deals behind closed doors.

    8) We want to put the salary decisions into the hands of the stockholders, where it should be.

    9) We want a low–cost, non-profit, nationwide (moveable) health insurance plan that any American could participate in, if they choose, one that spends at least as much on prevention as it does healing.

    10) We want to eliminate the current cap on the earnings that can be taxed for Social Security.

    11) We want the SS trust fund totally separate from the national budget.

    12) We want Congress to replenish the money that was stolen from the trust fund.

    13) We want to see more investments in America and less money spent on wars.
    The military industral complex.

    14) We want the Laws that apply to citizens, also to appy to Congress. Congress members are olny paid while in office. Congress has the same health plan all US Citizens. No “sweetheart deals” because Congress thinks that they are somehow more “special” than “average” Citizens.

    15) We want the Criminal Justice System to be completely over-hauled. Stop the “War on Drugs” by decriminalization of drug use. This war is a complete failure and misguided.

    16) We want Corporations to Stop polluting the Earth. Stop leaking/spewing poisens, toxins, and carcinogens.

    17) We want people to produce products that are “built to last” and reduce refuse. Rethink, reduce, reuse and recycle.

    18) We want a more equitable investment in education.

  6. Jeff says:

    What about people camping out to buy a ton of crap on black friday, were they arrested? What about the overtime costs for PD stationed at stores throughout the country… are those costs deferred by the stores or paid for by our taxes? The message is that corportations are in charge.