Occupy Orange County Morale Still High and Gaining Supporters

Brandon Ferguson
This morning marked Occupy Orange County's first big event since Tuesday when the Irvine city council unanimously granted the group permission to camp 24/7 on the civic center lawn.

The atmosphere was jubilant as nearly 100 activists, hoisting signs decrying corporate injustice, gathered in front of city hall with Councilman Larry Agran, a 1992 presidential candidate for the Democratic Party nomination, as media photographers snapped away. 

Brandon Ferguson
Irvine City Councilmember Larry Agran (center, gray sports coat) shows Occupy support
Protesters loudly thanked the council for their support before starting the procession, which snaked from the intersection of Harvard Avenue and Alton Parkway, several blocks to the intersection of Jamboree and Barranca.

Along the way, marchers shouted thanks to police officers as they zipped by on motorcycles or sat parked in cruisers along the route. 

After 45 minutes, the group returned to what the protesters are calling People's Village -- now abloom day and night with 30 tents.

One activist, who gave his name as Jai, made the trip from the Occupy Long Beach location where camping isn't allowed. As he surveyed the rows of tents with approval, he commended Irvine on it's success in garnering council support. 

"I'm proud of what you guys have done here," he said.

Though morale was high, the group's future at the civic center is far from assured. Aside from seeing a smaller turnout than previous marches, the recent meeting with city officials only secured a temporary, two week permit to camp.

A big question remains: Will Irvine officials renew the permit?

Regardless of the uncertainty, everybody who was asked today said they'll continue with weekly marches and nightly general assembly meetings. 

"My dream is to continue to occupy as long as we're allowed to," said 55-year-old Garden Grove resident Donna Haney. "I'm not a lawbreaker. I may not always be polite or easily silenced, but my vision is to Occupy Irvine as the symbolic financial district of Orange County." 

While it remains to be seen if the honeymoon will continue, up to this point, Irvine police have been exceedingly respectful of protesters, even when asking them to keep moving on the sidewalk in the wee hours of the night so as to avoid violating the city's no camping law. Several speakers stood before the council on Tuesday and expressed thanks for the department's handling of the group's occupation. 

Meanwhile in Santa Ana, a smaller group--say, 20 people--continues to protest around the clock near Orange County's Board of Supervisor's building. Cops there have threatened those who attempt to camp using tents with arrest.

They made good on this position last Saturday with four arrests following an inaugural march.

On Nov. 7, Occupy Santa Ana protesters plan to ask the city council for permission to begin camping.

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