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TONIGHT: Local LGBT groups to participate in Occupy San Diego

SAN DIEGO -- With the Occupy Wall Street movement taking place in New York City in its third week, many similar campaigns are popping up in cities across the nation, including tonight in San Diego.

While those involved seem to have a number of "demands" they wish to have met, the movement centers around the notion that one percent of the United States population controls most of the country's wealth.

According to Occupy Wall Street's official website, "We are the 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%."

The site says that Occupy Wall Street is a "leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants."

In San Diego, a group calling itself Occupy San Diego has sprung up and begun organizing a similar action in San Diego, starting today.

For several nights, a General Assembly has met at Children's Park in Downtown to plan the occupation, which is scheduled to begin today.

While the group doesn't necessarily expect local actions to be as big those taking place in New York City, those who have come together to serve as leads seem to have worked round the clock to plan for a group of hundreds -- and possibly thousands -- who will camp out at the San Diego Civic Center Plaza for an indefinite amount of time.

Thursday night's General Assembly meeting was attended by nearly 100 people, with about 25 more people separated into smaller committee meetings across the park. Most of the discussion was centered around logistics of today's march and occupation, with participants using agreed upon hand signals to express agreement and disagreement.

Representatives from a number of committees that have formed, including Arts & Entertainment, Food, Sanitation, Security and Education reported out on their progress over the last 24 hours.

Some committees reported on making more progress than others, such as Arts & Entertainment, which has booked a number of entertainers to perform for participants and the creation of a giant Monopoly game board to pass the time.

A representative from the Legal Committee reported on a meeting with the San Diego Police Department (SDPD).

Occupy San Diego representatives got the impression from the meeting that "the PD plans to accommodate us and not try to make arrests -- with safety being the veto of that." Group members seemed happy with this and applauded.

Some groups affiliated with the LGBT community have pledged to support and participate in Occupy San Diego, including Canvass For A Cause (CFAC) and the San Diego Alliance for Marriage Equality (SAME).

During the report of the Education Committee, Holly Hellerstedt of CFAC reported that a group of people are working on a "Statement of Inclusivity" to be used throughout the occupation.

The proposed statement pledges to work on dismantling oppression in the movement and wishes to create a community free of a discrimination and phobias of marginalized groups and opinions.

Because of time constraints the General Assembly was not able to review the statement last night, so it has not yet been fully adopted. Hellerstedt hopes that the statement will be adopted at today's General Assembly and San Diego Gay & Lesbian News will publish the statement once it is released.

Jose Medina of SAME says that many members of his group will be participating in the occupation so the organization is planning a "Teach-In" at the occupation site on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at 6:30 pm.

Topics will include "Civil Disobedience and Defending the Equality 9;" "LGBT Struggle for Jobs, Fair Housings, and Equal Rights;" and close with announcements from participants.

Tres Watson, executive director of CFAC, said that his group is proud to announce its endorsement of Occupy San Diego and has fought "corporate interests" before.

“Canvass for a Cause is no stranger to fighting corporate interests to preserve our rights as citizens to engage the public in important human rights issues,” Watson said. “Despite Target Corporation’s attempt to demolish our right to exercise free speech when they sued us last March, we continued to canvass in front of Target stores and won the initial proceeding in our case."

"Target sued Canvass for a Cause early last year reportedly because we talk about "queer issues" in front of their corporation."

CFAC's field director Michelle Deutsch agreed with Watson saying that the fight against Target was a learning experience the group.

“What we learned from this fight and what we are working to accomplish by endorsing Occupy San Diego is that we, the 99%, must reclaim our country and put ourselves on the line for social justice,” Deutsch said.

CFAC plans to create a LGBT/Queer safe space during the occupation, while offering LGBT and civil rights education.

Organizer Toby Benjamin posted the final details for today's kick-off on the Occupy San Diego site:

October 7th, 2 pm: Meet at Children’s Park, Front Street and Island Avenue
October 7th, 4 pm: March to San Diego Civic Center to gain support and pick up occupiers from the originally planned location; march returns to Children’s Park
October 8th, 4 pm: March to relocate to San Diego Civic Center to continue occupation

Benjamin noted that "In respect of the events taking place for the Jewish High Holy Day Yom Kippur, we will not be occupying the San Diego Civic Center on the first night of our occupation, but we will still be occupying our fine city."

For more information, click HERE or follow @OccupySD on Twitter.