Occupy Movement News Round-Up 12/5

ALBANY:  Mayor Jerry Jennings has decided the Occupy Albany encampment near the state Capitol must leave on the first day of winter.  Corporation Counsel John Reilly says in a letter to protesters that officials will permit the encampment until Dec. 22, while setting conditions effective Tuesday for staying in the meantime.  Permit conditions include limits of 30 tents, two heaters, one generator, three portable restrooms and no cooking or open flames, no food vending and no semi-permanent structures or signs. City officials have let the demonstrators camp in Academy Park since Oct. 21, while Gov. Andrew Cuomo has insisted state police enforce an 11 p.m. curfew in adjacent state-owned Lafayette Park. Jennings spokesman Robert Van Ambergh says the permit terms and winter departure deadline are based on health and safety concerns.

AUGUSTA:  Demonstrators from several religious denominations marched in support of Occupy Augusta activists Sunday, the day before a federal judge was to hear Occupy’s request to remain in a park near the Maine State House without a permit.  Occupy Augusta wants U.S. District Judge Nancy Torresen to issue a court order that would bar the Capitol Police from requiring a permit for the activists’ “tent city” in Capitol Park.  Last week, activists and police agreed to a standstill on the continued occupation until the judge issued a ruling. Protesters agreed to not add to their encampment and police agreed to take no action to evict them.

BANGOR:  Members of Occupy Bangor are abiding by a request to stop camping on the public library’s property. The library’s board of directors voted to ask the group to remove tents and other property by 8 o’clock Monday morning. Library director, Barbara McDade, says the encampment is not covered by the library’s liability insurance. Occupiers are now off the library’s property and have moved their things to Peirce Park. Some people have set up tents. Peirce Park is only open until 10 p.m. City officials have previously told Occupy Bangor members that they cannot stay at the park after it closes. No word yet on if police will take any action on those who stay. There is a meeting planned for Tuesday night at Bangor City Hall, to revisit the city’s current ordinances. 

BOSTON:  The push to erect a winterized tent at Occupy Boston was thwarted today by police and city inspectors who said no new structures will be allowed. Police formed a line keeping the tent from being brought into the tent city on Dewey Square. City officials said they are abiding by the court rule that no new structures are allowed. “We wanted to make the camp safer,” said Occupy member J. Eric Martin. “They’ve stopped us from bringing in a safer tent.” Dot Joyce, a spokeswoman for Mayor Thomas M. Menino, said police will confiscate the tent. The tent is now sitting on the sidewalk near South Station waiting for a truck to take it back. Recentally, officers also seized a sink occupiers attempted to bring into the camp. 

BOWLING GREEN, OH:  Three people were arrested and charged with obstructing official business early Monday after Bowling Green police evicted those camping out with the Occupy Bowling Green movement.  Authorities said police went to the Bowling Green Community Commons off of East Wooster Street about 5 a.m. to remove an unauthorized camp, which was set up by the movement participants about six weeks ago. Authorities say the group impeded small businesses in the area and that police were called to the camp on “several occasions” for disrupting and trespassing complaints.  Police say the occupiers were in violation of the city ordinance, which states that sidewalks and other public-access areas should be kept clear. Monday morning, a police supervisor read an order from the mayor instructing people to take their property and leave the common area. Those who did not were arrested. They are being held in the Wood County jail and are scheduled to appear for video arraignment in Bowling Green Municipal Court Monday.

BUFFALO:  Protestors who are part of Occupy Buffalo say they have no plans of breaking down their camp in Niagara Square, even as we get closer to the official start of winter. And now a dome is taking shape to help them keep warm.  This new shelter, called a “geodesic dome,” sits directly across the street from City Hall. What it does is traps the heat in, in such a way that you can warm it to a reasonable temperature using just body heat without any outside source of warmth.  So far they haven’t had to deal with any harsh weather, and say when the snow starts falling, or is piled up at the Square like in years past, they may use it to build igloos.

DENTON, TX: An Occupy Denton camp at the University of North Texas has been dismantled after a protester died over the weekend, an organizer said Sunday. Darwin Cox, 23, of Denton was found dead in a tent Saturday afternoon. Organizers said they do not think he was the victim of foul play. A ruling on his death is pending, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner’s website. The group said in a statement Sunday: “Occupy Denton mourns the loss of a fellow occupier, a kind and idealistic young man and a friend. Occupy Denton will dearly miss him, and forever appreciate the fortune of having shared a space and time with our friend. We give our deepest condolences to his family.” Even though the camp was dismantled, Graham said, Occupy Denton will continue to organize events and attend City Council meetings. Organizers say they are searching for another location for their camp.

DENVER:  A federal judge this morning heard arguments that Denver police have unconstitutionally restricted the free speech of Occupy Denver supporters. The protest supporters say tickets issued to people who honk horns in solidarity with Occupy Denver or who stop their cars briefly in front of the movement’s sidewalk encampment to provide supplies violate the protesters’ First Amendment rights.  This morning’s debate, before U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn, came in the hearing on a request for a restraining order against Denver while lawyers for protesters pursue a federal lawsuit seeking to bar the city from using the contested ordinances against Occupy Denver. The hearing will continue this afternoon, and it is unclear whether Blackburn will issue a ruling today.

LONDON (LSX), UK: London Metropolitan Police has categorized Occupy London Stock Exchange protestors as a domestic terror group alongside those that are termed foreign terror threats including al-Qaeda.  In a document dubbed “Terrorism/Extremism update for the City of London Business Community” and handed out to Occupy LSX ‘Bank of Ideas’ building by a local businessman, the police acknowledge that the protestors are on a “peaceful” campaign yet accuse demonstrators of “suspected hostile reconnaissance” activity in London. Occupy London said the police used the same campaign of “fear and intimidation” during the November 30 strike march in London. In a press release on their website, Occupy London responded: “Activism is not a crime and the desire to participate in democratic decision-making should not be a cause for concern for the police in any free society.  An institution that confuses active citizens with criminals and equates Al Qaeda with efforts to re-imagine the city is an institution in grave danger of losing its way”.

LOS ANGELES:  Occupy Los Angeles protesters returned to the streets Saturday.  At least one person, Anthony Lascano, was arrested during Saturday’s heavily policed march in downtown L.A., apparently for failing to follow police orders to stay on the sidewalk. Lascano was one of nearly 300 demonstrators who were arrested in early Wednesday’s eviction, an elaborate police action that involved some 1,400 officers. To protest Lascano’s second arrest, which demonstrators said was unnecessary, the crowd marched past the headquarters of the Los Angeles Police Department and to the Twin Towers Correctional Facility, where many Occupy arrestees had been detained. A line of police officers in riot gear blocked the doors. Demonstrators complained that Lascano was “tackled” by police. About 100 Los Angeles police officers and private security guards trailed the protesters as they marched Saturday, according to news reports. Police have maintained a large presence at Occupy protests downtown in the days since the eviction, especially during demonstrators’ nightly general assembly meetings on the west steps of City Hall. [SOURCE]

Video testimony from an Occupy LA general assembly details how one popular Occupy livestreamer, known as Cross Bones, was allegedly threatened with arrest by an LAPD officer for recording an LAPD traffic stop. It seems that the LAPD officer did not appreciate Cross Bones streaming the routine vehicle stop and search, but he did not know the actually legal cause a possible arrest would have. According to the videographer’s story, the cop told him he’d have to look up the statute once he was arrested since the cop didn’t know it offhand. [SOURCE]

NASHVILLE:  Police have arrested four more Occupy Nashville protesters and briefly detained a journalist who was trying to cover their activities. The protesters were cited for disorderly conduct because police say they refused to leave the middle of the road and protest on the sidewalk. [SOURCE]

The Tennessee Highway Patrol made arrests Sunday morning after 14 protesters forced their way into an abandoned Motor Vehicle Management building on Charlotte Pike. Occupy members were lending their support to an independent group who is transforming the building into a homeless resource station. The protesters were cited with trespassing. Since one of them was a juvenile, officers took him to a detention facility for violating curfew. [SOURCE]

NEW ORLEANS: Authorities in New Orleans have told the Occupy NOLA encampment that Duncan Plaza will be closed nightly from 10:30 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.  Protesters say, “so what?” Word around the Occupy NOLA camp site is that New Orleans police will clear them out later today. “We heard that they’re going to do that, but we did not hear a specific time,” said Occupy member Mark Palmisano.  ”There’s no timetable so we’ll have to wait and see.” Palmisano said when police show up, he’ll just go back to his house, but he’s worried about some of the people at Duncan Plaza who have nowhere else to go.  Occupy NOLA organizers plan an afternoon news conference to talk about the pending eviction, and how they say the city needs to do more to help the homeless.

NEW YORK CITY: A handful of Occupy Wall Street protesters have been holding a hunger strike since Saturday in the hopes of getting Trinity Wall Street, an Episcopal parish downtown that has provided various services to occupiers for some time, to let them occupy a vacant lot that Trinity owns at Canal Street and Sixth Avenue. Trinity is also one of the largest landholders in Manhattan. They’re not into the protesters’ idea, and the three hunger strikers were arrested at noon yesterday at the lot, detained for five hours, and charged with trespassing. They were replaced by three other stand-ins and returned to the space after their release — only to be re-arrested around 11 p.m. We’re thinking that being arrested twice within 12 hours could be a new record for OWS arrests. [SOURCE]

Parents in East Harlem called an emergency meeting with NYPD officials Thursday after a series of daytime shootings in the neighborhood. And when parents asked why there wasn’t a better police presence to keep their kids safe, Deputy Inspector William Pla said, according to The New York Post, that more cops weren’t possible “due to a lack of manpower because of police being diverted downtown to Occupy Wall Street.” It’s a curious response considering Occupy Wall Street was evicted almost three weeks ago, on November 15th. A parent at the meeting told The Post, “I was really annoyed that police would tell me that they are busy patrolling a peaceful protest instead of a gunshot-ridden area. That to me is shocking.” [SOURCE]

PHILADELPHIA: A group of homeless people who have been camped under an overpass for a week and were under notice of eviction as of 11am Monday, are looking for somewhere to go. Paul Klemmer, a homeless carpenter, has written about the plight of a group of around 20 fellow homeless who left Occupy Philly at Dilworth Plaza after the eviction to seek safe accomodation. They have been camped below an I-95 overpass but have been told by Pennyslyvania’s Department of Transportation they have to leave. Klemmer has detailed the dilemma for the homeless who have joined the Occupy movement. He writes: “We’ve come a long way in a short time and formed the core of such a community of shared involvement and responsibility. We’ve been conditioned by being forced to exist alone, to grab all we can before someone else does, this alientation suiting the purposes of the status quo which would keep us invisible and blame us for our own misfortunes.”

PORTLAND, OR:   Occupy Portland protesters huddled for warmth on a sub-freezing Monday morning after a weekend of face-offs with Portland police resulted in over a dozen arrests. Riot police moved in on and scuffled with protesters Saturday evening after demonstrators tried to set up a new campsite in Portland’s South Park Blocks, arresting 19 people. Officers made the arrests after protesters tried to set up tents and awnings, actions that police and the Mayor’s office said ahead of time would not be tolerated. Monday morning, a smaller group of protesters remained in Shemanski Park in southwest Portland after they were allowed to remain in the park overnight after taking down several structures in an apparent compromise. But Monday morning, park rangers and police issued warnings and citations to some of the protesters who had brought in sleeping bags and other items. Two people were arrested. Other protesters simply stood on park ground in the cold as temperatures hovered in the upper 20s. A small group of police stood in the park while some protesters packed up belongings to leave.

SAN FRANCISCO:  The city laid out its “generous offer” to relocate the camp from Justin Herman Plaza near the Financial District to a more “appropriate setting” along Mission and 16th streets — on the grounds of a former high school. The city even offered to pay rent on the property, which belongs to the San Francisco Unified School District (we are certain SFUSD is eager to accept the much-needed cash). It’s a hard deal to turn down, considering the site comes with running water and working toilets. Yet many Occupy protesters believe they should be near the very banks they are protesting. Moving to the Mission would put the camp out of site, out of mind [precisely what the city wants]. Mission District residents are against the relocation, saying they are worried about dumping more violence and filth in a neighborhood that’s already challenged by violence and filth.  The city gave the camp a noon deadline last Wednesday to make a decision on the relocation, but that day came and went and protesters remained camped out on the plaza. At one point, police barricaded the camp, leading protesters to believe a raid was imminent. But when it became clear that caging in protesters would only stoke chaos, police removed the metal fencing and retreated. 

SANTA CRUZ, CA:  Early Sunday, deputies removed the group’s “Occudome” tent and other belongings, but issued no citations. Sunday evening, deputies warned the group about possible trespassing citations, said Steve Pleich, an Occupy Santa Cruz member. Pleich said the move surprised him as deputies have allowed them to be gather there, but could not camp, erect structures or block walkways or doors. Two Occupy Santa Cruz protesters chained themselves to the courthouse steps on Water Street late Sunday after being warned by sheriff’s deputies that they could not be on the courthouse property between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. The police ignored the chaining late Sunday night, but upon returning at 7 a.m. to find them still locked, deputies summoned firefighters to cut the locks. Both men were arrested for suspicion of trespassing. Deputies are concerned about safety, security and sanitation issues, she said. They installed temporary fencing around the courthouse lawn early Sunday to prevent further lodging.

SEATTLE:  About 100 campers have been living in tents at the Capitol Hill campus since Oct. 29, after they were forced out of Westlake Park in downtown Seattle where they clashed with police over camping. Seattle Central Community College won a court ruling last week and said it would post a rule banning camping early this week. College trustees say the campers have created security and sanitation problems. Spokeswoman Patricia Paquette said campers would be given a 72-hour notice before eviction enforcement. On Saturday police arrested 16 Occupy Seattle demonstrators who broke into a Capitol Hill building and refused to leave. 

SYDNEY, AU: People have gathered outside a Sydney court in support of 14 Occupy Sydney protesters who are facing charges. Protesters dressed up in tents and carrying sleeping bags and banners stood outside Downing Centre Local Court to protest against the arrests made during a dawn raid in October. Fourteen people are facing court today charged with offences including assaulting and hindering police and resisting arrest.  Most of the charges were laid after police swooped on about 100 protesters in Martin Place on October 23. Occupy Sydney spokesman Josh Lees says the rally outside court is to defend the right to protest. “I was there sleeping on the morning of October 23 when the police came in at 5am and attacked us and arrested people and punched people,” he said. “We’re here to defend (those facing charges) but also to make the broader point that people should have the right to protest.” The protesters plan to launch a High Court challenge to the October 23 raid and up to 30 people continue to occupy Martin Place every night, Mr Lees said.

WASHINGTON, DC: Thirty-one people were arrested at the Occupy site in Washington, DC during a nine-hour standoff over the weekend, after protesters refused to dismantle a wooden structure they had erected.  The standoff at Occupy DC happened on Sunday after protesters were told they did not have a permit for the wooden structure they had built the night before and were given an hour to take it down.A few scuffles broke out after officers moved in while protesters remained sitting on top of the structure, built as a place they could hold general assembly and keep warm for the winter, and refused to move. Fifteen of the 31 people detained by police were arrested for crossing the police line, according to CNN. The other 15 were charged with disobeying a lawful order after police ordered them to vacate the structure. The last protester removed from the building was charged with resisting arrest, indecent exposure and urinating in public. The standoff ended after two of the protesters jumped from the structure into inflatables provided by police, while those remaining were picked off by officers in a cherrypicker.

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