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Long Beach Occupy protesters urge council to let them camp

November 15, 2011 | 11:13 pm

In a Tuesday night meeting, supporters and members of the Long Beach Occupy movement urged the City Council to approve a 24-hour free speech zone that would allow them to pitch tents at a park adjacent to Long Beach City Hall. 

They also submitted a petition for the request, which was signed by 540 people.

The Long Beach protests began in mid-October, but members of the movement have been unable to camp out at Lincoln Park; city ordinances forbid overnight camping in public parks.

PHOTOS: Occupy protests around the nation

"A tent is a symbol of the occupy movement," Long Beach resident Tammara Phillips told council members during the meeting, which lasted nearly three hours. "For some of us, a tent is all we have." 

"Please, this occupation is about hope," said David Sandoval, a business owner and supporter. "We're fighting to change the world." 

Tuesday's discussion followed a more contentious meeting of the council last week at which the activists brought the session to a halt chanting "We are the 99%."

By the end of Tuesday's meeting, the council directed City Manager Patrick West to meet with police and other city staff, as well as some protesters, and report back with options.

Several members of the group said they were disappointed with the decision and others were angry, saying they  had asked the council to allow them to camp at the park until the report was ready.

"Tonight was a slap on the face," said Jonathan Allen. "It's a delay tactic."

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-- Ruben Vives in Long Beach

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