IRVINE, CA — In what was a rare converging of Republicans and Democrats on the Irvine City Council, in a 5-0 vote yesterday, the Council decided to allow the Occupy protesters to camp overnight on the lawn in front of City Hall.
After holding a march and rally a couple weekends ago that drew close to 1,000 participants, the protesters wanted to Occupy Irvine in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street protests. However, since the park is closed nightly from 10 pm to 6 am the Irvine Police Department had denied requests to camp overnight. Councilman Jeff Lalloway told the protesters; “I don’t see how sleeping on our lawn really helps, but … if you want to sleep on our lawn, sleep on our lawn.” Councilman Stephen Choi noted; “You are getting special, exceptional treatment. This is maybe a small accomplishment you should be proud of.”
In a story posted on OC Weekly’s Navel Gazing blog Brandon Ferguson reported:
Referencing the police’s approach to protesters, which has witnessed officers corralling people to the sidewalks every night after 10 p.m. and asking them to keep moving until 6a.m., Councilman Larry Argran, explained, “They don’t always get it 100 percent right. And we don’t always get it 100 percent right. This is a new kind of demonstration.” Agran, who is also a lawyer, then read a series of passages from the city code that he said will allow a prolonged assembly with city approval. He added the council had ample room legally to facilitate protesters wishes.
This decision is in distinct contrast to the response from elected officials in other cities in Orange County (Santa Ana) and California (Oakland), who have arrested protesters camping overnight. Only in Irvine could Right and Left come together and agree to let people exercise their 1st Amendment rights of free speech and assembly.