Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Compassion & Principles

I watched the City Council meeting on tv last night about the Occupy Sacramento folks who want permission to camp out 24/7 at Cesar Chavez Park.

This is an important issue for the Parkway because if that permission was given it would also have to be granted to the homeless folks who want the same permission to camp 24/7, which would result in even more camping in the Parkway than is now happening.

Mayor Johnson chaired the meeting and he exhibited one of the best examples of compassion while sticking to principle that I have seen from a politician.

This article from the Sacramento Bee reports on the meeting.

An excerpt.

“Two weeks have passed since Occupy Sacramento protesters first took hold of downtown's Cesar Chavez Plaza. They have set up small shelters and a first-aid station, created a bank of laptop computers linked to the Internet and conducted several rallies.

“What they still don't have is a common call for grand social change.

“As the Occupy Wall Street movement persists around the nation and spreads to other countries, demonstrations have morphed into a canvas of disparate protests with distinctly local flavors. In Phoenix, the issue is immigration; in Atlanta, small business.

“And in Boston, a hub of higher learning, it's the lack of jobs for college graduates.

“There is no single global or economic cause unifying the Sacramento movement. However, by demanding to remain in the park at all hours, protesters have waded into a local political issue that predates their demonstration by years: the fight by homeless activists against the city's anti-camping ordinances.

"Our issue? We want to be able to stay here overnight," said Sean Thompson, 27, who recently dropped out of Sacramento City College to help coordinate Occupy Sacramento's presence in the park. "After that's resolved, then we'll start to talk."

“That demand appears unlikely to be granted anytime soon. Despite the calls of protesters who waved signs inside City Hall and set up vigil outside the building, the Sacramento City Council decided Tuesday night to continue enforcing the city's anti-camping rules and to not grant a permit allowing protesters to remain in a city park past closure hours.

“City police will keep clearing out the park across the street from City Hall at 11 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on the weekends.

“Councilman Steve Cohn had proposed to allow the protesters to keep their gear in the park overnight, but that plan was not moved forward by the council.

“Mayor Kevin Johnson said he would meet with protest organizers over the next few days and listen to their "thoughts and concerns."

"No one here disagrees with your right to protest and have your voices heard in a real way," the mayor said.

“City officials worry that if they allow the Occupy Sacramento people to camp at the park, they would have to make a similar exception for Safe Ground Sacramento, the group of homeless people and their advocates that has been pushing for a sanctioned spot where the homeless can camp at night.”