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.
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