By Nadin Abbott
Photos by Tom Abbott
January 6, 2012 (San Diego)--100 years after a Free Speech movement was born in San Diego to protect citizens’ right to protest, the movement has come full circle…..
Few San Diegans today are aware of numerous free speech fights across America a century ago—or that “dwarfing them all was the San Diego episode,” according to the San Diego Journal of History’s fascinating account at http://www.sandiegohistory.org/journal/73winter/speech.htm. Fearing mob violence from the Industrial Workers of the World amid a growing U.S. labor movement and actions by anarchists, City leaders in 1912 outlawed public speaking in a five-square block area of then-downtown centered at Fifth and E streets. Thousands of defiant people turned out in protest of the ban and numerous arrests ensued, clogging jails and courts. Fire hoses, horsewhips and clubs were used by police; vigilantes joined police, even kidnapping a newspaper publisher as riots and deaths ensued in a conflict that lasted six months.
To this day, however, San Diego has never restored the people’s free speech rights.
Today, Occupy San Diego members came to City Hall to present a ballot proposal that would amend the encroachment code.