Interview transcript from O30 OSD

author: 
anonymous

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Interview with Amir at Occupy San Diego
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Angie: I am here at Occupy San Diego, at 3rd and B Street where the Civic Center is. It is October 30th, 2011, and I’m here with Amir who is part of the organization of protesters-
Amir: Part of the Occupation.
Angie: Part of the Occupation, they have a “Teach-In” here which is educating people on the history of civil unrest-
Amir: It’s titled “Economic Aristocracy” Early American Revolutionary Period and Affective Popular Action on the Constitution. It’s a long title.
Angie: So what are the reasons that these people at Occupy San Diego are protesting for?
Amir: In one answer, Equality. More specifically economic equality, there is too much disparity in wealth. There is too much power kept away from the people who pay for the power structure. And that is morally abhorrent and that is why I am down here.
Angie: How has the city allowed an area to congregate in protest?
Amir: Actually the city has done everything to hamper our assembly. They brought up a whole bunch of codes, and instead of educating us or working with us, which we were willing to do, they tried at every turn to just move us out of here. They brought up complaints about fire violation codes, health, unruliness, obstruction of pedestrian pathways, and unlawful assembly.
Angie: What goals do you wish to be met through the Occupation Movement?
Amir: The goals that I have is demilitarizing this zone, and allowing the assembly to go on, so that more people will be able to join Occupy. Another goal is to have an alternative contact to the city of San Diego instead of a police contact. And the goals of alternative ways of social organization and distribution of wealth.
Angie: What has the San Diego Police Department presence been like?
Amir: They’ve been for the last 24 hours, just harassing us. They have been trying to divide us. They talk to some people with the ‘good cop, bad cop’ tactic. They make veiled threats like, ”You better get down from the fountain or you may break your leg.” They were pushing people all over the place.
Angie: What kind of people are here joining the protest?
Amir: All kinds of people are here, Libertarians, Tea Party, Socialist, Communist, Anarchist, we have Green people- Ecologists, and people who are disillusioned with their party. I haven’t seen anybody who has identified their self as a Republican, but I’ve seen former Democrats. All kinds of people, it was really cool discussions going on, very friendly. In terms of occupations, we have students, we have professors, nurses, workers, union organizers, we have homeless people who are actually very helpful to the movement- keeping it sanitary, and they are very interested in the educating we have going on here. They know that this area is a safe place for them because the police cannot harass them. This has been a real life experience in learning what the homeless are capable of if given an opportunity.
Angie: There are many cities the world over demonstrating Occupy protests. Do you believe the entire world can have a revolution?
Amir: Yes, I do believe the entire world can have a revolution. It has happened in the past, and there were social movements with a message that spanned continents. Anti-colonial movements that throughout time reached from the Americas to Asia and Africa, and later on Eastern Europe. Yes I do believe that capitalism was a historical revolution itself.
Angie: Slavery, women’s rights..
Amir: Green movement, (environmentalism.)
Angie: Are you educating people on their rights, the laws, and how to protest correctly?
Amir: I think we are doing that. In terms of laws, I do not advise because I am not a lawyer. I would not want to give incorrect advice because I could be wrong and then that would jeopardize somebody's freedom. But in terms of protesting appropriately, I would say my perspective on that..like how to protest and what is more effective. Also internally people show up with signs to capture attention which have outrageous language sometimes, which is outrageous to some other people and me, but I cannot tell them to take their sign down. We have people who walk over here, not for the movement. They’re not part of the movement, they don’t engage, they just, uh like we have a guy who just basically has a sign that says, “Israel did 9/11.”
Angie: He wants to get on T.V.?
Amir: He wants to get on T.V., and he gets on T.V., you know. Apparently, that’s his passion. I’ve seen him around San Diego in other protests, too. He just walks up, walks around and whenever there’s a T.V. camera he goes to it. But there’s that, and then there are people who are part of the occupation and they have been brutalized by cops, and basically they say, “Fuck the cops.” And I think they have every right to. At this moment, with whatever happened in the last 48 hours, I don’t view San Diego Police Department very highly either and they’re harassing us so right now if I see that sign I will actually enjoy it. But again there are people who say, “Okay that’s not getting our message across.” and I agree but at the same time I am not gonna say that the person should not have it. Because this question of our relations with the cops is really important, we should address it.
Angie: I don’t think San Diego is a big protest town like say, Portland is and so, they’re not used to protests. They don’t have the tactics, or maybe they’re not as educated in the actual practice. You know, they might be book-read on it, but they don’t know what it’s like to deal with it.
Amir: The police or the protesters?
Angie: The police.
Amir: I think it’s true. But honestly, the chief of police was part of the force in Oakland in ’66. So he was the guy who went after civil rights activists back then. So I think he..
Angie: Landsdowne?
Amir: Landsdowne. I looked up his bio it is unbelievable. And he actually was caught in a video saying that, “If this was the ’60’s we would bash their head in.”
Angie: Didn’t they have the Rampart Scandal or was that L.A.? That was L.A.
Amir: No, over here the scandal they have is basically there’s two things, the rape charges involving 16 cops, and the other cop who was, in order to waive DUI’s, he was basically asking women to have sex with him. And SDPD, they don’t talk about it to the media in San Diego. But it should be a questioned institution.
Angie: How are you prepared for safely protesting and not getting arrested? -I wrote that thinking that people were bringing their vinegar for the tear gas or something.
Amir: Well, they haven’t used tear gas on us, yet. But honestly I come here with books. We had a library here, so I was more concerned with that. I was not really prepared for this heavy handedness. Which maybe would be kindof naive, but I was not really thinking about it I was thinking, “Okay we’re gonna have police.” But I didn’t really think that they’d do it like this. They had, on Friday morning, they had two cops for every protester that was down here. They had the sheriff’s department down here!
Angie: That’s nothing. In Portland they come out in full riot gear and they mace babies. It sends a message that ‘you can’t bring your family, you can’t bring your children, you can’t bring your grandma. This is only for a certain age group of people who have nothing to lose.’ That’s what the cops want you to think, they want the news media to show that it’s not safe so that there’s less people showing up. And that is their tactic, but it’s not okay. It needs to be safe for everyone to come here.
Amir: It needs to be safe. And we hope that these guys will be less interested in getting us out of here, and at least provide a little bit of room. But no way. Jerry Sanders is the mayor here and he is a former Police chief himself, so he has the mentality and training anyways. So, the politicians are trained in military techniques, the police is military, and your dealing with..both sides of the coin have swords on their face.
Angie: It’s a military base town, it’s San Diego military base.
Amir: It is a military base town.
Angie: What do you think the tipping point will be, either Occupy disperses, or Occupy wins?
Amir: If they disperse us, we’re gonna come back and occupy. These three weeks, even though I think these three weeks have been an amazing experience for me, I don’t think it’s just about the experiences it’s about the actual change. To point is to change the world we live in. And if Occupy wins, I see that down the line eventually. And right now I’m trying to tell everybody that we have to create this environment that people can come and discuss this, because that process is the process that will really lead to the future, the process of consensus. Not just “majority wins, and let’s get the majority blocks.” It’s a process that would try to include as many people as possible, not just create blocks of winners and losers.
Someone walking by: “Hey we’re the people for the presentation..”
Amir: Solidarity Network?
“Yeah, do we have to sign in or anything?”
Amir: No, there’s no sign in. We try not to keep a list anymore, they took everything.
Angie: Polls on the Occupy Facebook page suggest that three times as many people support the movement but are not going to the protests. Are you trying to motivate the 99% to show solidarity and make their presence?
Amir: Yes, yes. We are trying to do that. It would be much easier to do if we weren't dealing with a security situation. But at the same time, in San Diego Occupation, we have 5,000 local supporters even though the best numbers in overnight stay was 300. There is different reasons that people cannot show up, people are coming in at different times. So, on the weekends they don’t come in, they come on the weekdays, some of the weekdays. There are people who have a job or two jobs, and they are still coming out over here, and staying the night on the concrete, and then going to their job right from here. So, this damn image they made out of us as this “absolutely homeless” is wrong. So it’s crazy, we have a variety of people.
Angie: And, what can I say your title is, are you a student, or.
Amir: I am a student getting my Master’s in Political Science. I’m with the Education Committee, I’m one of 30 people in that Committee. They have a website at occupySD.org and there you will find education and a calendar. You can contact me at global.letters@gmail.com.
Angie: I really appreciate you taking this time!
Amir: No problem, good luck!
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If you think you want to join Occupy, be smart! Research peaceful protesting tactics first.
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interviewoccupysd.pdf || Interview at Occupy San Diego