The Occupations Still Standing (And How Long They'll Last)
As winter sets in for real in much of the country it seems each weekend brings news of a new crackdown on a different Occupy encampment, but a few are holding fast.
As winter sets in for real in much of the country it seems each weekend brings news of a new crackdown on a different Occupy encampment, but a few are holding fast. On Monday, we read up on the weekend's arrests in Portland, Oregon, where police stopped protesters from starting a new occupation after their previous one was disbanded last month. And news came Sunday that Washington, D.C. police made their first arrests of occupiers there after they refused to move away from a wooden structure they had started to build in McPherson Square, which Park Police and Washington, D.C. Metro Police had told them was prohibited. Occupations have been routed from Atlanta, Oakland, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Diego, and of course New York, after occupations spread widely in September and October. Looks like it's time to check in with what major occupations are still standing, and see if we can glean their chances for making it through the winter.
Washington DC: Police in the nation's capital are used to protesters, and the National Park Service has been pretty lenient with those camped out in McPherson Square. All in all, this had been one of the least tense occupations nationwide since it was established shortly after Occupy Wall Street started on Sept. 17. Despite the Washington Post's warning that the tenor of the occupation's relationship with police could change following Sunday's standoff, Occupy D.C. spokesman Legba Carrefour said he hadn't noticed any change in the way cops and protesters acted towards each other on Monday. He said about 100 tents remained at McPherson Square, and occupiers had no plans to decamp or change tack. "We are going to stay the course and continue taking more actions," Carrefour said. Chance for making it through the winter: 7 in 10.
Police stood off with occupiers over a wooden structure they started to erect on Sunday (photo via AP):
But the camp remains in place in McPherson Square on Monday (photo via AP):
Boston: The city hasn't been quite as welcoming as Washington, D.C., but it also hasn't issued any orders or ultimatums for protesters to decamp. On Monday, Mayor Thomas M. Menino's office said the city wouldn't allow protesters to bring in a heavy duty tent to help withstand the New England winter. And as the encampment battles with the city in court for the right to continue its presence in Dewey Square, constitutional scholars told the Boston Globe the city had a strong chance of convincing the court of its right to clear them out. But the occupiers are working hard to make sure they have the law on their side, and while their case works its way through the court, the occupation itself is staying active. The live feed showed a general assembly in progress on Monday afternoon, and participants in the encampment's chatroom said a recent count put the number of tents at the site at 130, but that the number has fallen since then. One participant estimated it as low as 70. An outgoing message on the encampment's phone line said occupiers expected a crackdown by police as soon as Monday night. Chance for making it through the winter: 4 in 10.
Protesters put their winter tent into the back of a truck to haul it away after police prevented them from erecting it on Monday (photo via AP):
They still have a lot of regular tents and tarps, but the weather is getting cold and the city's opposition to the encampment mounts (photo via AP):
Austin: The encampment here started with a protest on Oct. 6 that attracted 1,300 people, according to the Austin American-Statesman. But its numbers have dwindled to "a few dozen" by now. Tuesday had been scheduled as the occupation's end date, but those currently camping near Austin City Hall say they have no intention of moving out. The Statesman clarifies the end-date confusion: "Cedric Bridgewater, a long-serving member of the protest, said Occupy Austin's original deadline of Tuesday to leave was set because their Facebook event needed an end date. That doesn't mean they plan to leave, he said." Police had clashed with demonstrators in late October, arresting nearly 40 of them, but at this point the city has said there are no plans to evict the occupiers. Chance for making it through the winter: 8 in 10.
It almost doesn't look worth the city's time to force these folks to leave (photo via Flickr user Mrlaugh):
Seattle: Occupiers here have been camped out on the campus of Seattle Central Community College since they were forced out of Westlake Park downtown on Oct. 29. But on Monday the Seattle Times reported the college had won a court battle giving it permission to force the 100 or so protesters out. And if Sunday's coverage in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is right, many of the protesters could decide not to fight too hard to keep their encampment as rifts grow within the movement on the ground. "Some of the 'occupiers' say there's a growing frustration at the aggressive tactics of late - tactics that hurt more than help," reported the P.I., and some of the occupiers sound downright despondent: "There's no constructive strategy for how we're going to get this country out of the mess we're in," One former occupier named Erik Huper told the paper. "Yeah, what's the point?" Some have vowed to hold their ground at the campus, but without large-scale support they'll probably succumb to a police eviction should the campus follow through on its threat. Chance they'll make it through the winter: 1 in 10.
The on-campus encampment still has a presence, but remember it rains a lot in Seattle (photo via Flickr user cactusbones):
But at least they have toilets, unlike in New York (photo via cactusbones):
New Orleans: This encampment has had some trouble, including a homeless man who died in a tent there. But the encampment hangs on, with about 50 to 60 tents still set up in Duncan Plaza, the New Orleans Times Picayune reports. Mayor Mitch Landrieu said on Friday that protesters should leave the park, but he didn't give a deadline and he didn't threaten police action. On Monday, the encampment was still there. According to the Times Picayune, protesters have contingency plans in place to keep the occupation going, including a list of several private lots they could occupy, so even if they do get evicted, it's likely they'll maintain a presence. Plus, it never gets too cold in New Orleans. Chance for making it through the winter: 7 in 10.
Looks like a pretty bucolic scene there in NOLa (photo via AP):
And the tent city is going strong (photo via AP):
We know there are plenty of other, smaller Occupy encampments hanging on throughout the country. Obviously we couldn't include all of them, but we're eager to hear what they're like. If you have photos or anecdotes from an encampment in your community, please share them in the comments.