Occupy Orange County organizer D'Marie Mullatierri said Irvine activists got a rude awakening this morning when the sprinkler system on the lawn in front of the Irvine city hall suddenly activated. This is the same lawn where the group, who is standing in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, has been staging a prolonged protest. Though an amplifier, generator and a few activists were soaked, no serious damage resulted.
Nontheless, Mullatierri suspects there might be more at play than a malfunctioning irrigation system. For seven days now, the group has gotten accustomed to the sprinklers' schedule, which until this morning has been predictable.
Every night, in accordance with a city ordinance against camping, the group moves from the park when it closes at 10 P.M. and stands on the adjacent sidewalk. Everybody returns to the lawn when it opens at 6 A.M. the following morning. Mullatierri says the sprinklers usually come on at night, when the park is closed. It was a little different today.
"People started going into their tents to sleep and the sprinklers came on at 9 o'clock," said Mullatierri. She added the water suddenly stopped and started three more times over a 45 minute period.
Mullatierri said group members notified Irvine Police of the snafu and were directed to the public works department who who is looking into what happened. Mulatierri isn't totally convinced it was an accident.
"We were here last Saturday and there were no sprinklers. They watered last night. For it to happen at 9 0'clock when everything was up, it looked suspicious."
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For now, things are back on track and the group plans to continue with an afternoon march. Mullatierri says Occupy Orange County members will attend Tuesday's city council meeting to request the city make an exception for the group to indefinetly stay camped on the lawn. After seven days in the activism business, she remains optimistic.
"We're gonna prevail. They're not going to hose us away," she said.