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Occupy Santa Rosa protesters take case to City Council

  • Sean Buckley of Santa Rosa,searches for that perfect sign Tuesday evening as he pulls a shift at the Occupy Santa Rosa protest on the steps of City Hall. (KENT PORTER /The Press Democrat)

Occupy Santa Rosa protesters brought their demonstration to the City Council Tuesday, calling for the withdrawal of public funds from major financial institutions such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

They also brought a list of more mundane requests including an amendment of an ordinance that prohibits camping at City Hall and a plea for permission to install a portable toilet.

It was unclear if the council would consider at a future meeting divesting its money or changing its policy on overnight stays. Officials were not immediately available to identify the financial institutions used by the city.

But the 100 or so protesters who have been “occupying” City Hall in shifts since Saturday night likely will be getting a toilet.

“We need a port-a-potty and we've had three people offer to pay for it,” organizer Sage Keaten, 55, told the council. “We're not asking for money. We just need a place to put it.”

Mayor Ernesto Olivares directed City Manager Kathy Millison to accomodate the protesters, who have vowed to cooperate with the city in other matters such as picking up trash and refraining from smoking or drinking.

The concession came at the beginning of the fourth night of overnight demonstrations modeled on protests that began last month on Wall Street.

Organizers promised to remain until at least Christmas Eve when their New York counterparts will vote on whether to extend that occupation.

“We're still here,” said organizer Brenden Homan, 20, of Santa Rosa.

Homan said a group of more than 100 protesters will pull shifts of various lengths. He said they were “young and old, unemployed and 9-to-5ers, hippies and Libertarians.”

“We've got eveybody,” he said.

As the sun set Tuesday, temperatures dropped and a cold wind blew through downtown. A group twentysomethings huddled around containers of donated food while a half-dozen people waved signs along Santa Rosa Avenue.

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