[UPDATED: Occupy Irvine to End Encampment] Occupy Santa Ana Backs off Occupation

Categories: Occupy OC
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UPDATE, DEC. 20, 5:07 P.M.:  And then there were none. A week after Occupy Santa Ana ended its formal occupation of the Civic Center, Occupy Irvine has decided to do the same. 

According to activist D'Marie Mulattieri, who was responsible for setting up the original Occupy Orange County Facebook page almost four months ago, the last day of the encampment at Alton and Harvard will be January 11. 


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Brandon Ferguson
"The city has been very generous with the allowance of us being there and not interrupting us," said Mulattieri. "However, they do have other things coming up that they need that space for. Somebody has to say, 'When is this going to end?'"

With the raid on Occupy Los Angeles November 30th, Irvine was believed to be the last formal occupation of a public space utilizing camping equipment to protest corporate greed and government corruption.

Irvine activists won permission to camp on City Hall's lawn from the council on October 25. Until then, protesters had spent weeks sleeping on the sidewalk. 

At its height, the camp boasted 30 tents (as you can see above), a large pantry, PA equipment and weekend rallies attended by as many as a thousand people

But with the end of this experiment in social action on the horizon, it's clear the movement is changing. 

However, Mulattieri is quick to add that the movement will continue, explaining the group still has the option to assemble in the park between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Plans have been announced by Irvine and Santa Ana activists that include a protest of corporate personhood January 20th in front of Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana. 

Still, Mulattieri says there are those who are sad to see the camp coming to an end: "There are a few die-ard Occupiers that want to stay in tents and there are others who want to focus on other things. We feel it's time to go onto action initiatives to create change in this country."

Asked what she feels is he legacy of the Irvine Occupation, Mulattieri points to a shift in political discourse. "We created a lot of awareness," she says. "A lot of the conversation has changed from 'What coffee are you drinking at Starbucks' to 'What's going on in America?'"


ORIGINAL POST DEC. 19, 1:24 P.M.: After a bitter two-month protest which included cold nights spent in the Santa Ana Civic Center, fruitless appearances in front of the city council and multiple arrests, Occupy Santa Ana has given up its attempts at a long-term occupation of the county seat. 

According to activist Charles Cha, police told the group last week to take down their signs, which had been set up along the sidewalk near Broadway and Civic Center Drive since October 22. That night saw four protesters arrested for violating the city's no-camping ordinance

From the start, the group's goal was to undertake a long-term occupation of Santa Ana's Walk of Honor in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street in an attempt to focus public attention on corporate greed and government corruption. 

Santa Ana activists spent the next two months attending city council meetings arguing they had a First Amendment right to occupy the public space, while holding nightly general assemblies near the A-4 Skyhawk, which serves as a monument to the Marine Corps. After hours, a few brave souls teamed up with area homeless to spend the night in the concrete jungle, sans tents and therefore exposed to the elements. 

The city council denied the group permission to camp while offering up some patronizing advice on how they might change the world. Most chuckle-inducing was Council Member Michele Martinez, who said, "This global movement isn't just about your right to assembly; it's about your duty to vote." The council eventually signed a resolution offering symbolic support of Occupy's mission.

Since the November 30th raid on Occupy Los Angeles, Irvine is now the only city with a long-term action in Southern California--it would seem the movement has entered a new phase. But Cha says the recent developments in Santa Ana aren't a signal of the movement's death throes. "We're probably more active than ever," he says. 

Cha, who is currently camping with the Irvine group, explains the demands of fighting for an occupation while planning other community actions divided focus.  

"We didn't have the tents and critical mass to hold down that spot as well as organize our actions," says Cha. "It was becoming impractical." 

Despite the dissolution of the Occupation, the  group has continued to hold protests and work with other Occupations, most notably during last week's attempt to shut down the Port of Long Beach. The group also continues to hold daily general assemblies near the Skyhawk at 7:30 p.m.

It still remains unclear what prompted Santa Ana police to shut the Occupation down; a call to department spokesman Anthony Bertagna has yet to be returned. 


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