One Year Later: Occupy Coachella Valley Plans Anniversary Event

The organizer of this "gathering for free speech" hopes you'll come out and hear about the current issues Occupy is concerned about.

It was one year ago today that the lives of nine people would be changed forever when they were arrested at a Palm Desert park and became a symbol for the Coachella Valley's local sect of a national movement.

Nine Occupy Coachella Valley protesters were taken into custody on Nov. 1, 2011 when they defied a curfew at Palm Desert’s Civic Center Park as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement. A tenth woman was arrested the following night, in protest of the arrests.

The protestors, a mix of retirees, Iraq War veterans and local college students, said in several interviews that they were speaking up against income inequality and corporate greed.

Now, one year to the day since those arrests were made, the man who has become the group's representative of sorts is planning an event to mark the occasion and bring it back to the basics.

Today's Event

Stephen Finger-- who was arrested in 2011, but had his charges thrown out in trial-- is planning what he calls a "gathering," to get people again talking about the core issues behind Occupy.  It's not something fancy he's been planning for months and months; rather, he says, he's hoping that people will come out to this last minute affair.

"On this first year ‘anniversary’ of that eviction, a SPONTANEOUS 'Gathering for Free Speech' in the very same Park, today promises to bring back NOT an occupation but, rather, the very reason why the Movement brought more than one million people out of their homes and to parks across this country:  the opportunity to raise issues that need to be addressed," Finger says.

The event will be held at the same place where the arrests took place, Civic Center Park, at 73510 Fred Waring Drive, on the northeast corner of Fred Waring and San Pablo Avenue.

It's slated to start at 3 p.m. and go until 8 p.m., according to Finger, who says that he does indeed have a permit for the gathering.

More than a dozen people will speak about a wide range of issues.  Finger says they'll speak for no longer than 15 minutes, and hopes others will join the conversation after each topic.


Finger provided Palm Desert Patch with the following preliminary schedule:

  • 3:15 p.m.: NO to GMOs! (Speaking out to stop genetically-engineered food from being put on our dinner table); Marnell Farley, retired yoga instructor and long time social advocate
  • 3:30 p.m.: Hungry for Peace; Krystle Rogers, local human, environmental, animal, and woman's rights activist, began outreach and organizing Food Not Bombs Palm Springs in February of this year.
  • 3:45 p.m.: Veterans Standing Up and Speaking Out For Peace; Tom Swann is President of the local chapter of Veterans For Peace and serves on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Community Advisory Board. The ACLU and Swann won a historic legal case for gay civil rights against the Department of the Navy in 1994.  Tom has been invited to the White House many times and received special recognition for leading the effort to dedicate America’s first and only LGBT Veteran’s Memorial.  He is also published author and has lectured at universities and the Library of Congress. He is a veteran’s chaplain.   
  • 4:30 p.m: Do You Trust Pearson to Teach Your Child?;  Gabrielle Jackson is a teacher of thirty years.  She holds a Master's Degree in Teaching Reading, is certified to teach gifted and talented children, and has taught in DSUSD since 1993. Currently she teaches 4th grade at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School in Palm Desert.
  • 5:00 p.m.: Why Your Children Can Not Attend the Community College Your Tax Dollars Paid For;  Geoff Hagopian. A Master of Arts in Mathematics and, since 1989, Professor of Mathematics at College of the Desert.  Before that, Geoff worked as a software engineer and a teacher in Los Angeles.
  • 5:30 p.m.: Is the Foreclosure Fraud Ever Going to End?; Rev. Dr. Debra Savitt
  • 6:00 p.m.: Patriarchal Dominionism: The Core of Tyranny; Carol A. Bouldin, licensed family therapist, long-time women’s rights advocate who has done research on right-wing authoritarianism, Christian orthodoxy, and attitudes towards women.
  • 6:30 p.m.: Indio: the most Discriminated city in the valley;  Carl McPeters Pastor of over twenty three years, former President Local NAACP and current President, Indio African American Ministerial Alliance.
  • 7:00 p.m.: Our Environment and health are under attack; Lorraine Salas
  • 7:30 p.m.: The Mechanics of Corruption; Lew Stuart
Geoff Hagopian November 02, 2012 at 05:14 AM
Briefly, some of the reasons students are being turned away from public higher education in CA include (1) We need to close the loopholes in Prop 13 that mean multibillion dollar international corporations almost never have their properties reassessed, even when they are sold from one party to another. (2) We need a resource extraction tax such as they have in Alaska and Texas. As it is, Chevron and so on are able to extract our natural resources untaxed. (3) We have no transaction tax on speculative put options on nanosecond trades of the stock markets. Thus Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Citigroup, etc are able to ply their proximity advantage and access to the Federal Reserve's discount window to pump and dump arbitrage to make themselves fabulously wealthy while plundering our currency. (4) We have no state owned bank to manage taxpayer money. Fixing those problems would likely mean a significant cut in working wage taxes. Let's do it.
Carol A. Bouldin November 03, 2012 at 10:06 AM
Occupy is an independent, non-partisan movement, unbeknownst to some (such as the first commenter) and therefore not beholden to any political party or public figure. Occupy has always been about speaking truth to power, raising awareness, and changing public dialogue on the important issues such as: income inequality, civil liberties, women's human rights, worker's rights, unemployment, the foreclosure crisis, the financial crisis, climate change, the environment, degradation of the food supply, poverty, homelessness, hunger, peace, LGBT rights, education, and justice. Occupy is alive and well and will continue to be the voice of the 99%.
Lew Stewart November 03, 2012 at 05:38 PM
The speakers at this event gave me hope that participatory democracy is not quite dead in the USA. Occupy and its hardworking members haven't gone away. They've gone straight to the halls of power and challenged its illegitimacy. Whether the corporate-owned media wishes to report it or not, Occupy has changed the public perception of the 1% and the coup they have been waging against the government. Movements take time to establish firm roots. The corporatist coup has taken forty years to destabilize the government. Occupy has taken only one year to slow and expose the corporatists. Look for great things in the next year. Great coverage, Patch. The 99%
JACKIE M November 04, 2012 at 03:59 AM
I could not attend the event last year or this year. I do agree with Lew Stewart and many others who have posted on this site. Thanks God we are in America and have the freedom of speech. I must say I am so against corp. greed and so many of the issues that the group talks about. Please continue the great work.
nIKIv November 05, 2012 at 05:19 PM
freedom of speech with a permit we didn't need in the first place ... ok. occupy was SUPPOSED to be about true liberties and freedoms, not just those that are permitted. i'ma jus sayin'!!! BUT ... knowing more about the issues is important, i think its a bit more efficient to do it online, but it can be a whole lot more fun to do it in person with a gathering of people !! it was a busy day to be sure -- i woulda like to have heard everyone -- i understand the fireworks started AFTER i left -- i just wanna point that out -- i was not there and didn't say a thing to start the rawk.us. u still haven't heard the whole story!!! but it was sweet and nice to c everyone who i was able to see in the short time(s) i was able to stop by!!! whoot


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