[UDATED: Irvine Police Squelch Attempts at Occupation] Corporate Abuses Prompt Large Irvine Rally

UPDATE OCT. 17, 4:45 p.m.: Despite the fact that Irvine Police have told Occupy Orange County protesters they cannot camp in the city, the group seems determined to stay put. Several tents have been set up on the lawn located at the intersection of Alton Parkway and Harvard Avenue where the group has been protesting for the past three days.

Irvine PD.jpg
Brandon Ferguson
Occupy Orange County sent out a press release this afternoon stating that the city has promised to allow protesters to camp on the lawns overnight if their ranks grow to the hundreds. Up until now, Irvine Police have told those who spend the night to remain on the sidewalks and keep moving. The group maintains the city's municipal code allows people to sleep on the sidewalks in sleeping bags as long as they don't hinder the movement of passing persons. An attempt to reach department spokesperson Lt. Julia Engen was not met with an immediate response.

UPDATE, OCTOBER 16, 5:05 P.M.: Last night Irvine police told Occupy protesters they couldn't camp in front of city hall, where the group is currently rallying against corporate and banking industry greed. 

Just before 10 p.m., an officer approached 28-year-old Jenny Bernal who was set up in a tent on the sidewalk in front of the civic center and notified her there was no camping allowed in the city of Irvine. 

After packing up their camping gear, a group of about 22 protesters continued to gather on the sidewalk in front of the civic center under the watchful eye of three Irvine officers posted nearby. In a scene out of the Oliver Stone film Midnight Express, the group was told they weren't allowed to stand still on the sidewalk and would have to continually keep moving.

 D'Marie Mullatierri, one of the event's organizers said a legal representative contacted the watch commander to attempt to reach an agreement. Though she couldn't say if it had any effect, she added that late last night, drained from exhaustion, she refused to keep moving. "I sat on the sidewalk and said 'if they want to take me, they can take me because I can't keep moving.'" Mullatierri said even after people stopped moving, no arrests were made. The group continued with marches today and will hold a general assembly on the lawn at 7:30 p.m. 

John Gilhooley/OC Weekly
Protesters wanted to know why Wall Street crooks escape prosecution. Click here to see more images from the protest.
ORIGINAL POST October 15, 8 p.m.: Click here to see a slideshow of protesters.

Irvine may be sovereign territory of obscenely wealthy right-wing ideologues, but today the quiet of its streets was shattered by loud voices from a diverse crowd of fed up citizens.

As many as 1,000 activists outraged by corporate greed, rallied under the banner of Occupy Orange County and took to the streets of the city where Taco Bell, Broadcom and Bax Global are headquartered.

They hoisted signs decrying the abuses of corporations while angrily shouting, "This is what democracy looks like."

The event began at 10 a.m. with people gathering across the sprawling green lawn in front of city hall. An hour later, a small band of aging rockers armed with a saxophonist played the lulling strains of Pink Floyd's "Us and Them," as a long line of people snaked for several blocks to the intersection of Barranca and Jamboree.

Marchers were bolstered by constant honking from passing cars and trucks.

Since plans for the protest were first announced through social media more than a week ago, the stated goal was for participants to stand in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, which is currently camped in Manhattan's Zucotti Park. Similar events have sprung up in Los Angeles, San Diego, Boston and Florida with many in the media criticizing the movement's lack of a clear goal. 

John Gilhooley/OC Weekly
The X Factor in Irvine. Click here to see more photos from the protest.
In a commentary written by syndicated columnist Mark Steyn, which ran in last Sunday's Orange County Register, the right-winger belittled the movement and accused patchouli- wearing members of having an "industrial strength lack of self awareness." 

Today's event, which saw little old ladies standing shoulder to shoulder with teenagers and middle class parents, belied Steyn's assumptions. Though, in his defense, there was a smattering of shirtless granola munchers present. 

When asked what brought her to the event, Elaine Threadgill of Dana Point said, "The injustices of the banking industry. The social system has gone to pot."

Irvine resident Leti Stiles, 53, was motivated by what she sees as a lack of opportunities for her son, a business major saddled with student loans. "Kids have become slaves," she said. "The banking system has enslaved them with debt and no hope."

John Gilhooley/OC Weekly
V for Vendetta. Click here to see more photos from the protest.
Earlier this week, event organizer D'Marie Mulatierri told the Weekly that activists were planning on occupying the grounds of the civic center indefinitely. At today's rally she said the plan was still in effect. But when asked if she would be among them, she smiled coyly and said, "no comment." 

By early afternoon two tents had been set up on the civic center lawn. One man who didn't give his name said he intended on camping out and was prepared to be arrested if police enforce a 10 p.m. curfew.


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