Local News

Occupy focuses on Saturday ‘tent-ins’

By From page A1 | February 22, 2012

By definition, a movement is something that moves or changes. Things that stay the same are usually inert or dead.

The Occupy Davis movement is alive and well after a few changes.

Occupiers maintained an original 24/7 presence in Central Park from mid-October until the first week in December when they pulled up their tents and moved out.

“We became exhausted, cold … some people got sick. It became tough,” said Davis resident and occupier Josh Jones. “We needed to recharge, rethink what we wanted to do.”

Although there weren’t any tents in Central Park, participants were still getting together, planning what the next phase would look like. And Davis residents and out-of-town visitors got a first-hand look at the next phase on Saturday in Central Park.

Instead of a permanent encampment, Occupy Davis will have a “tent-in” on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Central Park. This coincides with the Farmers Market but the “free-speech” zone is set up outside of the market area and does not need a permit.

“We stopped (in December) for practical reasons, but the motivation is still there,” said Skyler Blakeslee, a Davis resident and occupier. “Practically, it’s more feasible to come out once a week to Central Park. It makes more of an impact.”

Davis resident and fellow occupier Phillip Fujiyoshi added: “This past Saturday was really positive. People were driving by and honking, saying ‘Welcome back.’ ”

In addition to re-establishing a presence, the move is also a sign of solidarity with the Occupy Chicago movement that is currently under fire with the upcoming G8 convention in May. Chicago, which already was set apart for not having a permanent occupation due to unique tent regulations, is now in the spotlight because of extra fines and permits proposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

According to reports, fines for resisting arrest used to range from $25 to $500 but are now $200 to $1,000. Additionally, Emanuel want demonstrations to have a parade marshal for every 100 participants.

“We’ve seen what’s been happening in Chicago,” Blakeslee said. “It serves as more inspiration to be more active. They’ve basically banned protesting at the G8, threatened to send people to jail — those things should inspire people to protest.

“We’d like to be clear that we’re standing up for the freedom of assembly,” he added. “And regardless of the political grievances, we occupy because we have an inalienable right to assemble. It’s being eroded. … Our government has stopped respecting people’s right to protest.

“A permit to protest is not a protest. People will continue to occupy because the government has got to respect the freedom to assemble and freedom of speech.”

Each time occupiers meet in Central Park, they hold a general assembly to discuss the current state of the movement and some prospective changes.

A previous assembly resulted in the occupiers asking the Davis City Council to support Assembly Joint Resolution 22, which opposes the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on corporate money in political campaigns.

The council agreed on a 5-0 vote Tuesday to support the resolution, joining Santa Cruz and Berkeley, among other cities.

Additional proposals and events can be found online at OccupyDavis.org.

— Reach Kim Orendor at [email protected]

Kim Orendor

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