Campers leaving Occupy Santa Rosa site at City Hall

November 29, 2011 1:00:05 PM PST
Campers at the 'Occupy Santa Rosa' site at City Hall are taking down their tents today because their camping permits expire on Wednesday.

There were still 17 tents on the west lawn at City Hall late this morning, down from about two-dozen last week. Assistant City Manager Jennifer Phillips said campers have until Thursday to leave.

Two Santa Rosa police officers on bicycles were reminding the remaining campers that they had to be off the property by 12:01 a.m. Thursday.

Thirty-seven people had received 15-day permits to camp at 29 campsites, Phillips said this morning.

Most of those who got the permits are homeless because nearly all of the 'Occupy Santa Rosa' members boycotted the permit process.

The protesters objected to posting the permits, which included their names, addresses and photos, on their tents. They also balked when the city said it would issue 51 permits rather than the 100 the protesters had expected. At one point there were about 100 tents at City Hall.

City Manager Kathy Millison then stopped issuing the permits, citing ongoing sanitary and health problems and the boycott.

Protesters held a large rally at the site outside City Hall on Oct. 15, and began camping there on Oct. 29.

Jennifer McDonough, who moved to California from Maine and stayed with a friend in Petaluma before camping at City Hall, said someone stole her camping permit. She said she is now homeless.

"I'm scared. I don't know what to do. I have nowhere to go. The (homeless) shelters are not that bad, but they're not for me," she said.

Phillips said Catholic Charities and Sonoma County mental health professionals will be at the campsite today and Wednesday to inform the displaced campers of services available to them.

Johnny King, one of a handful of remaining 'Occupy Santa Rosa' members still camping at City Hall, said he might camp on a friend's property in Santa Rosa.

"It's not my desire to fight with the cops. The police have been exemplary. The police and the City Council are not the enemy," King said.

"The creation of major corporations is akin to the creation of nations. We are in a huge worldwide financial crisis," King said.

He said the 'Occupy Santa Rosa' boycott of the permit process "is like getting in a fight with a cab driver on the way to your wedding and missing your wedding and going to jail instead."


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