99%-ers Occupy Phoenix Streets

Jeff Moses

Occupy Phoenix that formed in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City began its occupation of Downtown Phoenix on Oct. 15 with a disorganized rally at Cesar Chavez Plaza located at 201 W. Washington street.

Participants carried signs that displayed such quotes as “when the poor have nothing else they will eat the rich” and “End the Fed” along with various other slogans and pictures denouncing their enemy the 1 percent.

People were able to step up on the stairs of the Phoenix court house and let loose on a microphone all their opinions and frustrations about the economy, the government and just about anything else they wanted.

“By the end of the day Saturday into the night the smell was intense” said Parker D Haeg a photographer about the cleanliness of the nearly 3,000 protesters that showed up.

The 99 percent were eventually led out of Cesar Chavez Plaza to Margret T Hance Park where they intended to set up camp and begin their Occupation.

The scene at the park began with what the occupiers known as the 99 percent call a General Assembly, a leaderless meeting of all the occupiers to come to consensus on the issues facing the occupation.

The consensus based meetings are a purely democratic way of resolving the groups issues, hand signals are used to avoid loud objections or agreement.

The 99 percent used what is called the “peoples mic (microphone)” to ensure that everyone can hear the speakers. The peoples mic is simply everyone in the group repeating what is being said by the speaker.

When a speaker is agreed with the crowd puts their fingers in the air and wiggle them which is called spirit fingers, If moderately agreed with hands flat out spirit fingers, if only somewhat agreed with spirit fingers but facing down.

If a hand is raised in the shape of a “C” that means the person has a clarifying question to ask of the presenter, pointing ones index finger upward indicates a point of information usually to answer a clarifying question.

A peace sign or rolling ones arms means the speaker is running long, and putting thumbs and forefingers together to form a diamond means point of process, usually for people speaking out of turn or using time meant for specific talking points wrong.

Lastly is the strongest of all the hand signals crossing ones arms in the shape of an “x” is called a block, a block means if the proposal being voted on were to pass the person blocking would have no choice but to leave the movement entirely.

The first G.A. of occupy phoenix degenerated into a seven hour long open forum on people voicing their ideas and opinions on what the Phoenix Police Department may or may not do.

Eventually the 99 percent chose a negotiation committee to communicate with the police, good news from that committee was few and far between but at one point two member announced to the crowd that Mayor of Phoenix Phil Gordon said if the 99 percent were arrested in Hance Park he would come down and be arrested with them.

The Mayors statement was untrue at 11:55 p.m. the police in full riot gear including gas masks stretched the width of the park marched in, after a thorough sweep of the premises converged on the occupiers.

Jason Odhner one of the members of the negotiation committee said “there were no negotiations, they (city officials) came in bad faith. He continued on “they came in, first the assistant city manager, and he said on camera he promises no one is going to make a move until after the negotiations are over and so then we stayed there waiting a long time for the vice mayor and the police, so then when finally the vice mayor and the chief of police and the deputy chief of police and councilman Johnson came in together they said the law is the law and we are worried about safety … so then they said we are happy to keep talking to you but the chief of police has to go start making arrests … so at that point we decided there is nothing to talk about and we (the negotiation committee) all walked out, they never had good intentions they never intended to negotiate.”

40 were arrested in peaceful protest cheering we love you at the police as they were dragged away one by one.

The crowd had been thinning out all day starting with the march; a few hundred seemed to have never made it from Chavez square.

But by the time the Phoenix Police stormed the park it seemed all but the 40 holding their ground a small contingent of on lookers and a few members of the media had dispersed from the park.

Following the arrests a small group of occupiers retook the park, and spent the night to ensure the occupation remained.

Since the events of the first night of the occupation Occupy Phoenix has had its share of bumps along the way.

Getting people to come out has been an issue for the occupation since the boom they saw on day one, dropping to a low of 11 in the early morning hours of Oct. 23.

Another problem the Occupiers faced and have now seemingly over come was the actions of an occupier who in the eyes of many media outlets had become a leader in the Occupation.

Occupy Phoenix don’t get agree on some issues which is why they haven’t been able to put a uniform statement out to the press, but one thing they do all agree on is Occupy Phoenix has no leader.

But in a bazaar move for a member of this movement, which is totally selfless and all decisions are made with the approval of the General assembly, Apollo Poet a member of the Occupy Phoenix Media Team defied those rules and started his own occupy phoenix website

The group was shaken and a new lead developer was chosen for the official occupy phoenix sight but movement survived.

The occupiers as of publication are still occupying Cesar Chavez Square in down town Phoenix.


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These are archived stories from Mesa Legend editions before Fall 2018. See article for corresponding author.

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