The Occupy Santa Barbara movement, centered in De La Guerra Plaza, continues to sustain its efforts after more than 50 days since its first demonstration.
Occupy SB plans to hold additional marches and rallies in the coming months while similar movements throughout the country remain actively protesting corporate corruption and the country’s growing socioeconomic disparity. Occupy SB’s general assembly, which meets daily in the plaza at 6 p.m., began convening on Oct. 3 and has since organized into several committees including communications, finance, media and legal branches.
According to Occupy SB citizen organizer Marshall Getto, the local demonstration is continuing to broaden in both scope and strength.
“What’s been nice is not just seeing new people get involved but that people seem to really get the idea that it’s a long-term commitment,” Getto said. “It’s not just one march. Maybe what some of the inspiration is what is seen in the media across country and wanting to be a part in a small, local way.”
In addition to general meetings each night, occupy organizers are creating new methods to engage the community, Getto said.
“We’ve been doing more creative things — this past Saturday, the Fun(k) Committee created ‘occu-pirates’ and set up a counter-protest of corporate pirates to chase us down the street, yelling things like ‘get a job,’” Getto said. “It’s fun because it’s humorous and kind of intriguing; it’s going to be a long time dealing with some heavy issues so it’s important to be creative.”
The local rally resulted in the arrest of 11 individuals and over 70 citations, according to Getto.
Santa Barbara Police Lieutenant Paul McCaffrey said authorities are respecting the public’s right to free speech within the boundaries of the law.
“We definitely have dialogue and have a positive relationship … we’re respecting their right to assemble and they’re respecting our need to enforce the law,” McCaffrey said. “There’s mutual respect on both sides. It is a diverse group of people so I’m not sure every last one of them would say that, but the organizers have been able to work with us and are pleased with how SB police are handling it.”
According to McCaffrey, the group’s weekly marches down State Street require additional city resources to manage the crowds.
“We try to minimize disruption; they block traffic and do other things that are temporary concerns,” McCaffrey said. “People might get frustrated … we’re managing that and trying to keep the disruption at a manageable level.”
Officers’ interactions with protestors have become increasingly amicable as the movement has progressed, Getto said.
“SBPD has been awesome to work with because they’re following their guidelines,” Getto said. “They know some of us on first-name bases … we’ve humanized each other to each other. That makes it much more difficult to be angry, rude or obnoxious to each other.”
Getto said the local movement will extend into regional rallies, encompassing smaller demonstrations from Thousand Oaks to San Francisco.
“We’ve definitely seen evolutions happen at all different occupations,” Getto said. “You can see how it helps spread from online activism, especially when the media, for the first month — especially mainstream media — would not even report on it at all. It was made known with alternative media sources and straight-up citizen media. That proliferation of information is the number one way national movement has started.”
Visit occupysb.org to learn more about the movement.