This morning, as Occupy Ventura participants were gearing up for another day of protest and the possibility of camping overnight despite their permit expiring at dusk, an impromptu visit from City Manager Rick Cole put the brakes on their plans.
According to the group’s media contact Phillip Wikel, Cole told the group that a police officer had died Saturday night, of an apparent suicide. (An investigation into the cause of death is underway.) The tragedy, Cole told the group, necessitated a reorganization of resources which would make it challenging to assure the safety of protesters camping overnight. He asked if they would wait one week before attempting to occupy a public space.
Jay Leiderman, a Ventura attorney who is part of the Occupy Ventura legal committee, said that following Cole’s request, the group "reached consensus that civil disobedience would no longer be an option tonight." "It’s not in the 99 percent’s best interest to engage in civil disobedience tonight," he continued. Protesters will regroup at 6 p.m. to decide how they will proceed, he said. In the meantime, there will be marches at 5:30 p.m. every night originating from Mission Park with general assemblies for democratic decision making to follow at 6 p.m. daily. "We will try to gain momentum toward a sustainable long term occupation," said Leiderman.