Setting up a potential showdown between a small group of protesters and city officials, Mayor Kevin Johnson said today the city should continue to uphold its anti-camping ordinance and clear the Occupy Sacramento group from downtown's Cesar Chavez Park at night.
The mayor said the protesters can stay in the park from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. - and that gives them "ample time" to voice their issues. "I don't think it's in our best interest to remove the (anti-camping) ordinance," the mayor said, adding he "wholeheartedly respects what (the protesters are) trying to do."
As the protest reaches its 13th day, the City Council is scheduled to debate tonight whether to let the demonstrators stay in the park overnight. And if no resolution is found, this is a conflict that could continue to simmer.
While much has been said about the lack of focus of the national Occupy movement, protesters told me today that the only goal of the Sacramento fight is to remain in the park all night. Once - or if - that request is granted, organizers said they would begin to discuss more global issues.
Sean Thompson, 27, who dropped out of Sacramento City College to help coordinate Occupy Sacramento, said protesters don't want to camp or sleep in the park - they just want to maintain a presence there 24 hours a day.
"Many of us have homes to go home to," he said.
And as for the mayor's stance?
"He needs to come down here and see for himself what we're doing," Thompson said. "Otherwise, him speaking on it is ignorant."