Last night, I pulled up to the Children’s Park in downtown San Diego just as the sun began to nestle behind the city’s high rises. A small group was gathered — the first to arrive for what would swell to more than 100 who constituted Occupy San Diego’s “General Assembly.”

The group is a sort of makeshift congress that’s planning and making decisions about a protest scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 7 at San Diego’s Civic Center.

While their specific goals are still unclear, the group speaks broadly about trying to achieve social and economic justice, and stand in solidarity with similar movements around the country, including Occupy Wall Street.

The evening started with an orientation, where new participants were briefed on how the General Assembly works.

From there, people broke out into their areas of expertise: Legal, food supplies, entertainment.

Tuesday night, I observed the legal team as they broached an important question: exactly how much interaction should they have with the San Diego Police Department.

Former City Attorney Mike Aguirre was at the meeting to offer his assistance by creating a police liaison — someone who could have a direct line of communication with SDPD leadership. He said that when he organized protests as student body president at University of California, Berkeley, a liaison was crucial to making sure protests went smoothly.

He hoped to make the liaison Chris Morris, who worked as the head of Aguirre’s criminal division. Morris said that as someone who knows police leadership, he could provide a direct line of communication into the department.

Photo by Sam Hodgson
Former City Attorney Mike Aguirre (center) tries to convince the legal committee of the Occupy San Diego group to appoint a liaison with the police department.

But Morris’ experience working with SDPD left some members skeptical and by the end of the meeting, the group was still undecided on whether to work with the department.

Once the committees were done discussing their individual tasks, the whole group convened as the General Assembly, where they make broader decisions about the future of their movement and hear updates from committees.

There’s a lot of planning to do — they need to coordinate food and shelter, organize a message and decide on the best way to communicate it.

I’ll be on hand to document the group’s protest at the Civic Center on Friday, to see just how well this late-night planning pays off.

Photo by Sam Hodgson
A stack of fliers advertising Occupy San Diego’s protest at the Civic Center.
Photo by Sam Hodgson
New recruits take part in an orientation to Occupy San Diego’s General Assembly.

Photo by Sam Hodgson
The participants break into groups where they plan the logistics of their protest.
Photo by Sam Hodgson
Brian Ogden, 35, holds his 5-month-old Athena during a meeting of the legal team.
Photo by Sam Hodgson
Kaya de Barbaro is a member of the food team and is helping plan logistics of feeding the protesters.
Photo by Sam Hodgson
Eric Bidwell, a former candidate for San Diego mayor, participated.
Photo by Sam Hodgson
Legal team members Hasmik Geghamyan and Adriane Bracciale talk about how to best protect the protesters taking part in Occupy San Diego.
Photo by Sam Hodgson
The General Assembly convenes shortly after 7 p.m.
Photo by Sam Hodgson
A young man holds a flier while taking part in the group’s discussion about the protest.
Photo by Sam Hodgson
The group makes decisions by consensus, using various hand signals to show whether they agree or disagree with an idea.
Photo by Sam Hodgson
A young man dons a Guy Fawkes mask while the group plans their protest.


I’m a photojournalist at You can contact me directly at or 619.550.5664.

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Sam Hodgson

Sam Hodgson is a freelance photojournalist and contributor to Voice of San Diego. You can contact him at

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