Editor’s Note: This article has been updated from the original version. Occupy San Jose protestors did not relocate from City Hall to St. James Park.
The standoff between Occupy San Jose protestors and City Hall resulted in the arrest of eight people early Friday morning. In response, protestors have vowed to continue airing their grievances with the nation’s financial inequalities.
“Occupy San Jose still has a representative. We’re still out here. You can arrest us but you cannot kill the movement,” says Daniel McCormick, a San Jose State political science major and occupation member. McCormick said he learned of the arrests and brought a new tent to City Hall on Friday in an effort to keep the movement going.
“They say if we put the tent on the ground we’re camping,” McCormick says. “We say it is a symbol of free speech.”
The arrests Friday morning came after a meeting between City Manager Debra Figone and Police Chief Chris Moore. Figone expressed concerns about the health and safety issues associated with the encampment, according to the police chief.
“It got to the point where people were defecating and there’s a lot of trash and rats,” Moore says. “We gave folks a choice to leave this morning and those who did left. Those who didn’t were arrested.”
According to one occupier who declined to give his full name, 12 patrol cars and two paddy wagons arrived around 3am Friday morning. Protestors outside of City Hall were told they were on private property and couldn’t occupy the plaza with the 12 tents they had. An officer then reportedly found marijuana that belonged to one of the protestors, and occupiers were told police had probable cause to search tents.
One protestor who appeared to be intoxicated allegedly scratched a patrol car and was arrested for felony vandalism.
“My understanding is everyone pretty much was cooperative,” Moore says.
Shaian Mohammadi, an organizer of the leaderless protests, says those who received citations for trespassing have been released, but the occupier who was cited with a felony is still in jail.
Several occupation members said they would temporarily to move St. James Park, but the group chose to stay at City Hall. Police said it doesn’t matter where camp is set up if it is on city property.
“The camping ordinance still applies,” Moore says. “They could apply for a permit (at St. James) but I don’t think they would get it based on previous history.”