By Nadin Abbott
February 13, 2012 (San Diego)--Several Occupy groups came together to protest outside the San Diego Convention Center at the California Democratic Convention on Saturday.
Around 100 people, including 40 local protesters and 60 from other areas including Los Angeles and Riverside, sought to draw attention of Democratic leaders and delegates. Issues included corporate power, civil liberties, homelessness and foreclosures.
Inside the convention, some speakers echoed themes raised in the Occupy protest outside. Senator Diane Feinstein announced at a luncheon that she has introduced legislation to repeal a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act that civil libertarians fear could allow indefinite detention of citizens. Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi referenced the “99 percent” and called for a constitutional amendment to eliminate corporate personhood. Caifornia Attorney General Kamala Harris announced a landmark settlement with big banks aimed at bringing relief to some facing foreclosure.
Many legislative leaders voiced frustration over Republicans blocking key reforms that they contend are aimed at helping middle class Americans. Others were silent on Occupy issues.
Women Occupy San Diego, a group of women wearing sashes inspired by the Free Speech Movement that began in San Diego in 1912, sang modified lyrics to popular songs outside the Convention Center. Some of the lyrics modified were to "row, row your boat," as well "This Land is your Land." They were joined by the crowd in chants of "Tell me what democracy looks like, this is what democracy looks like," as well as "We are the 99 percent.”
Roy Flores, an engineer and San Diego resident, said that the Occupy protesters "are drawing attention to the situation across the country." Flores, who was born in Mexico, believes the U.S. is heading in the same direction with "a wide disparity between rich and poor” and that for middle class people “our standard of living is going down and down." He sees the problem as the crisis of our modern times and praised the Occupy movement. "They are calling attention to it and hopefully more and more people will know what is going on."
Later Occupy San Diego, with members from other regions including Occupy Los Angeles and Occupy Riverside, marched on the center to protest the National Defense Authorization Act signing, which they see as a threat to our freedoms.
Some Occupiers engaged attendees on the value of elections as well as how special interests have bought the system to a crisis of democracy with Citizens United, a Supreme Court decision which gave rights of people to corporate interests, allowing unlimited campaign contributions by corporations.
A lively discussion between also involved subjects ranging from the death penalty, which the Occupiers and the majority of attendees agreed should be banned. Discussion participants also agreed that corporations are not people, and that FDR's Second Bill of Rights was a good idea.
As the Occupiers left for Balboa Park for a picnic, one conference attendee wished them luck and urged demonstrators to "stay strong."