Sacramento’s City Council refused to grant an anti-camping ordinance exemption to Occupy Sacramento Tuesday night. The council instead made no vote on the matter and decided to merely “keep the channels of communication open” between occupiers and the city. This was certainly a blow to the occupiers, but it also puts the City Council squarely on the wrong side of the issue. As the movement grows across the nation and the world, occupiers in Cesar Chavez Park have shown no sign that they are going home anytime soon. And the police are just wasting their resources and the resources of the city by continuing to arrest occupiers night after night.
Last night, after the disappointing City Council vote, nine occupiers remained in the park and were arrested. That brings the total number of arrests to 66 people in just 13 days. And this morning occupiers are back in the park already. Protesters have pointed out how troubling it is to have to beg city officials to allow the public to stay in a public park. Public parks are by definition property of the public and thus should be open to the public at any time. The city shouldn’t have a private claim to the park, since it is the taxpayers, the residents of Sacramento that fund the park and pay for those services that maintain the park with their tax dollars.
The city mayor has agreed to meet with the occupiers in the next couple of days to hear their views and complaints. But the mayor is one of the most vocal opponents to granting a waiver to Occupy Sacramento. He claims that granting Occupy Sacramento an exemption would open the door to more violent groups to also be granted a waiver. This though is the logical fallacy of the slippery slope. There is no reason why granting a temporary exemption to one group would require the city to grant another exemption to another group. Any future group that would like to camp in the park overnight, would still have to file a formal petition with either the city manager or the city council, just as Occupy Sacramento has done. And if the city is worried about violence, part of the review of that petition would include looking into any potential violence.
To give an analogy; to say that granting an exemption to Occupy Sacramento will lead to the city having to grant exemptions to everyone including violent groups is like saying granting gay couples the ability to get married will lead to all types of sexual partnerships being recognized including bestiality. Both of these are slippery slope facilities because they ignore the fact that the state has the ability to say no at any point and thus end the cascading levels. The city at any point in the future could deny any group from getting a waiver, and one such reason for a denial could be the potential of violence. But the city officials, the mayor, and city police have already acknowledged that Occupy Sacramento is immensely peaceful and shows no signs of violence. Think about this logical fallacy when listening to the mayor or the city council as they try to rationalize their decision to ignore protesters.
You can find more information about Occupy Sacramento at their website, their facebook page, or join them at Cesar Chavez Park at 9th and J st. As always, Occupy Sacramento is accepting donations.
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