City hall occupation continues
Even though Occupy Nelson appeared as though it would be a one day protest in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, occupiers have continued to camp and gather on the grounds of city hall.
A handful of tents have been set up outside of city hall and signs line the fences and walkways of the grounds.
“It’s been really positive vibes as you can hear from the honks of passing cars,” said Evan Shper.
“We’ve been well received by most of the community as well. The feelings are keeping things forward and trying to maintain good relations with the city and the police.
“We have a lot of issues that are being dealt with really well right now. We hold meetings every night at 7 p.m. and we’re going to start holding jams. There are community events happening. We had flyers made.”
Shper said the Occupy Nelson group is currently following the general statement that Occupy Wall Street put out, but that the local group is working to put together a local statement.
“Some people are looking for issues that are more relevant in our lives, but for me the big picture is the most relevant in all of this,” he said. “Some of the local issues are related to Nelson’s local environmental activism group. There’s the Jumbo Wild issue.”
The group hopes addressing local issues will help them connect to the community that isn’t currently involved in the movement.
“Even if this only lasts for a month, or whatever it lasts for, the fact that positive energy is put out, and that people are learning to deal with each other without being part of a hierarchical system is a beautiful experiment that will expand,” said one of the occupiers, who goes by Chaos.
“If a million people change one person for the better then it was beautiful, and I hope we hit more than that. We’re giving our energy out to the world and that ripple effect I know is going to be a beautiful thing.”
The group is quick to dismiss accusations that the occupation has become a homeless camp.
Chaos has been camping out at city hall since Sunday.
“It isn’t a big change because I usually camp out in the woods. Mind you I don’t have my mattresses and foams that I have in the woods but other than that I’ve been camping here since Sunday and I plan on staying here as long as it’s necessary,” he said.
Chaos doesn’t consider himself homeless because he is homeless by choice and because the planet is his home.
“I hope to see more people come. I hope the negative energy won’t ride its way in here with people that want to drink, scream, and party. I want to see that maybe some people may come in here angry and doubtful and realize that it is a good idea,” he said.
Despite hopes Occupy Nelson would remain a positive, non-violent atmosphere, a 25-year-old city man was arrested Wednesday night.
Witnesses said occupiers approached the man peacefully and asked him to leave because he was drunk. He then allegedly assaulted a 27-year-old protester.
On Wednesday some of the Occupy Nelson organizers met with Mayor John Dooley to address some of their concerns.
“The meeting went really well,” said Dooley after the meeting on Wednesday. “They talked about their strategy around looking after the site, keeping it clean, how they can be fed, access to washrooms and removal of garbage.”
After reports that power had been cut off to organizers, Dooley confirmed the reports.
“We weren’t sure what the power was going to be used for. We saw a lot of different items showing up and our breaker system couldn’t handle it. There’s only one small plug there,” he said.
The main requests put forward by the Occupy Nelson group were garbage bags, removal of the garbage, power, washroom access and they asked if they could put tarps up.
The city also put forward some of their concerns.
“Our number-one request was for them to be respectful of the location and our property and the property next door,” said Dooley. “These are community assets and people want them properly looked after.”
The city also asked that if the occupiers stay until Remembrance Day that they clear the site for Novemeber 9.
“After that they can decide whether they want to return or not. The Remembrance Day ceremony is very important to the community,” said Dooley.
In the interest of grounds maintenance, the city also asked that the occupiers pick a designated area to set up their tents.
“We can’t conduct any maintenance on the grounds if there are tents and other things set up. We have a lot of work to do to prepare for the winter with our lawn maintenance, our tree pruning program and the lights that we put in trees for the winter. And we need to do maintenance of our rose gardens and so on,” said Dooley.
The occupiers are hoping that the movement continues even though they aren’t sure what the outcome will be yet.
“The end outcome no one really knows. It can mean a lot of different things for a lot of different people as far as the outcome of the movement,” said Shper. “Personally for me it’s more of an awakening and a great awakening and a show of global community because there’s never been something like this before. There’s never been a global demonstration to this scale.”