Anatomy of a protest

The organizers of Occupy San Diego are a wide collection of individuals and groups. Inspired by the movement on Wall Street they came together Tuesday, Oct. 4, to plan the “occupation” that would occur three days later.

At 6 p.m., around 160 people met at the corner of 1st and Island in downtown San Diego in the small park in front of the conversion center.

They were divided into planning committees. Each dealt with a specific topic, such as the security, food, and sanitation. Each committee met among themselves first and decided what they were going to do.

At 7 p.m., all the committees came together to share their decisions and plan their overall strategy.
“The size of this group represents a great turnout,” said Steve Fahrney, 29, who was part of the public relations and publicity committee.

The group came together in a circle so that everyone could see and hear each other. They agreed to communicate using hand gestures, such as holding up a hand to an ear if they couldn’t hear, or waving a hand in the person supported someone else’s idea.

A man in his early fifties who identified himself as Frank said he was an attorney and addressed the group. He talked about the possibility of being detained and what people could do. Everyone was interested in this topic and the discussion lasted 15 minutes.

Then it was on to the security committee, whose members had decided earlier that they would have three people who would have direct contact with the San Diego Police Department. But then someone proposed five or six people be contacts, too. Everyone agreed to the new number by waving his or her hands.

But then the committee’s leader explained why that was not a good idea and thus it went back to three.

A member of the lodging committee said the downtown youth hostels were in full support of Occupy San Diego and were offering their facilities to all the people who participated.

The member said participants could use the restrooms, showers and sinks while camping out during the occupation.

Another person said there was talk about having a food table for participants but only for a short amount of time each day.

Someone noted that Oct. 7 was also Yom Kippur and that a celebration was bringing 5,000 Jewish people to the Civic Center, where the occupation was to take place.

After some debate, the organizers decided that they would continue with the occupation as planned and try not to bother the Jewish community on their holy day. (Three days later the organizers reversed course and decided not to occupy the Civic Center on Friday night to support the Jewish community.)

Around 9 p.m., the planning meeting ended. Many said they would be back the  next two evenings to fine tune their plans for the great San Diego occupation.