Overnight demonstrators from the Occupy Orange County movement got a rude awakening Saturday morning when powerful lawn sprinklers doused their blankets, tents, electronic equipment and other belongings for about half an hour – an unexpected start to the eighth consecutive day of protests outside the city's civic center.Why not? What gives these people the right to set up camp on public property? Weak public officials like the Irvine City Manager and nothing more. Run the sprinklers every night and you can put a stop to this nonsense. The Constitution may protect speech and assembly, but it doesn't protect tents and laptops.
About five demonstrators had just finished setting up a makeshift camp outside the Irvine Civic Center about 9 a.m. when two sprinklers in the area were suddenly switched on, said demonstrator Orange Loy, who was part of the overnight group.
The sprinklers stayed on for about 10 minutes, and then another set of sprinklers popped up, Loy said. A few minutes later, the first set of sprinklers switched back on, she said.
"One man was asleep near an electrical strip and power cable when the sprinklers went on," said Loy, a screenwriter from Los Angeles who also participated in the Occupy demonstrations in downtown L.A. "He could have been electrocuted."
A wooden podium was damaged by the water, but all of the electronic equipment appeared to still be working and no one was hurt, the protesters said.
Irvine city officials on Saturday afternoon apologized for the gaffe, saying it was an "inadvertent mistake" by city landscape contractors who had been doing routine maintenance work on the sprinkler system.
"There was nothing deliberate about it," Irvine City Manager Sean Joyce said. "We would never do anything of that nature to disrupt the folks who are out there."
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Not in the traditional sense, but at least they might smell a little better after this: