Over 30 sheriff deputies in riot gear arrested 13 Occupy Fresno
protesters Sunday at 3 a.m. at the Courthouse Park in downtown
Fresno. Protesters were arrested for operating without a permit.
Sergio Robles / The Collegian
About 13 Occupy Fresno protestors were arrested Sunday morning at 3 a.m. and were later released at 1 p.m. by Fresno Sheriff’s deputies, according to Occupy Fresno’s official Twitter.
Since Tuesday, Nov. 1, the Occupy Fresno movement has been operating without a facility use permit.
The group received a final notice, or a “move immediately” notice, one of the protestors Steven Avila said. The eviction notice warned the group if they continued to protest in Courthouse Park downtown, they could be fined or possibly imprisoned.
Sunday morning around 3 a.m., sheriff’s finally decided to take action, according to the group’s Twitter page. Over 30 sheriff’s deputies in riot gear invaded the camp, and after a few hours more than a dozen Occupy Fresno protestors were arrested.
Avila, who is also a senior at Fresno State, explained that the group reached a general consensus to not reapply for a facility use permit, after their permit expired.
“We originally applied for the permit not expecting to get it,” Avila said. “We feel that showed an attempt to at least comply with the local or county laws.”
Avila explained that after the group received their permit, the county office began tacking on multiple clauses and addendums.
“They were basically telling us we have no say, and that they can put whatever they want on this permit,” Avila said. “Not anywhere does it say that we need a permit in order to protest.
“We’ve been peaceful and haven’t started any fights,” Avila continued. “We’ve just been expressing our message with banners and that’s a right guaranteed by the first amendment.”
Before Sunday morning, no one had been forcibly removed from Courthouse Park, another protestor Luis Sanchez said.
“As of right now, everyone is on standby, waiting for the police to show up and remove them,” Sanchez said on Thursday, Nov. 3.
The group has been working just near a month now. Sunday marked the group’s 28th camp out day, Avila said.
Avila explained that the group has been working on two levels; to help support the national movement, as well as to accomplish smaller local goals, and to gain local awareness of the movement.
Avila explained that members of the Occupy Fresno movement worked together to close their Bank of America accounts and to transfer their money to smaller, local credit unions. The group even protested outside of one Bank of America until the branch closed its doors and locked up.
On Saturday, the group also did the same for Chase Banks. The “Move Your Money” day urged members to close their accounts with the large bank chains and was a part of the larger national movement.
Sanchez explained that the group also worked on a smaller local scale by attending school board meetings and asking questions of the board members.
“I think it’s great that people are getting politically active and politically aware,” Sanchez said.
Avila said that the sheriff’s Department had actually remained relatively quiet when dealing with the Occupy protestors.
“They have been supportive for whatever reason,” Avila said. “Maybe it’s because they realize that they are a part of the 99 percent as well, and that we are fighting to protect their rights and pensions. The most opposition we are getting is from the county itself.”
So far the Occupy movement has gained momentum on a worldwide scale. The groups, tired of pay cuts, foreclosures and bank bailouts, have spawned off of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
So far, whether by coincidence or persistence, the group has got the Bank of America to rescind a proposal that would charge members for using their debit cards.
Sanchez thinks that even if the protestors are removed, the movement in Fresno will continue on.
“I expect this to go on, probably about another month,” Sanchez said. “I don’t believe these movements ever die. They just take on new forms of life in different ways.”
Avila said that if the group is removed, they will move, and continue their protest elsewhere.
“The movement is indefinite until we are satisfied,” Avila said. “We plan on being a presence in Fresno. If we are moved, we will redeploy to another spot.”