Occupy Santa Barbara demonstrators continued to speak out against corporate greed and economic inequality this past weekend in De la Guerra Plaza.
The movement — a local offshoot of the nationwide Occupy Wall Street protests — began Oct. 3 and has occurred daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Several rally members were arrested for trespassing on Oct. 4 after they refused to vacate the plaza after its 10 p.m. closure.
Santa Barbara Democratic Party issued a statement supporting protesters’ rights to assemble, and advocating for increased accountability from America’s corporations two days after the local protests began.
“Here in Santa Barbara, we support the hard work of activists who have brought this national movement to life in our own community, some of them active party members,” the statement said. “As with any diverse grassroots movement, we do not agree with every proposed solution. … However … it is clear we need a strong voice to counter the voice of pro-corporation dogma. We call upon the leaders of the City of Santa Barbara to make every effort to allow peaceful participation in the protests, without arrests.”
Robert Villegas — one of eight people arrested and booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail after refusing to vacate the plaza — said the arrests undermine the initiative’s efforts.
“I felt like [being to forced to disband] was a violation of my First Amendment rights,” Villegas said.
Villegas had handcuffed himself to a pole with an American flag, which required the Santa Barbara Fire Dept. to use the “jaws of life” to unchain him.
The rallies have spread to numerous cities around the world since the movement’s initial launch. Approximately 50 people gathered in Lompoc over the weekend at one of the city’s major intersections.
While many protesters affirm that Occupy SB encompasses a wide range of political views united under a common concern, fourth-year philosophy and anthropology major Bryn Stembridge said the activists’ tactics are ineffective.
“If you want to fight against corporate greed and profiteering in public systems, do not just hang around in public areas hoping someone notices you — that only works in Third World countries and fairy tales,” Stembridge said. “What these protesters should do is each buy one share in Bank of America and then show up to the shareholders meeting and bitch out the richest one percent there; then they collectively control a fair share of the company and really can push their views.”