Jason F. Livecchi
Campers have been seen singing, sleeping or talking with fellow supporters while occupying downtown.
As the tent city of Occupy San Diego reached nearly 100 units, the city's fire marshal said no more.
The fire marshal visited the site following the death of a man who fell from a nearby parking structure. He told organizers that further tent assembly was prohibited for safety reasons.
Event organizers said initially they were worried the group might be evicted since the group’s number has increased during its five days of encampment. But so far, police are allowing the protesters to stay.
“We’ve had a number of people coming in … now they’re sleeping on the ground,” said event organizer Jordan Hammond.
Hammond said the group is not looking to disturb the peace as they continue protesting.
Even though Occupy SD has not obtained a permit the group is permitted to stay in the area, according to San Diego Assistant Police Chief Boyd Long.
“The permits themselves end up restricting free speech,” said Hammond. “We have maintained solidarity with the other Occupy groups in that we have not gotten permits.”
Long said between six and eight officers have been there 24 hours a day since the rally on Oct. 7. Eight officers were paid overtime Friday night because of the protest size, but since then all officers at the site have been on regular duty.
Long said SDPD will deploy additional officers should the size of protesters increase substantially.
“We consider it a First Amendment right for them to lawfully and peacefully protest,” he said.
No arrests have been made for any people directly associated with Occupy SD, according to Long.
“I have nothing but positive things to say about the group itself,” he said. “They have been very compliant.”
Recently, other cities such as Boston and Washington D.C. have had enforcement issues between officials and Occupy protesters. Long said he is keeping an eye on what’s happening in other cities to ensure no riots ensue.
Occupy SD organizers have threatened to stay indefinitely until their demands are met. Long said he hopes that is not the case.
Thanks to the use of a mediator between protesters and police no major altercations have occurred, according Long. He said police will not tolerate any violence, vandalism or illegal activity and will immediately take action should the protesters get rowdy.