Reposted from FireDogLake with additional information and photos.
Occupy Erie had Official visitors again yesterday morning, for at least the seventh time since the middle of October. Each time they come, more gear is taken, more stringent rules announced. Canopies, tarps, sleeping bags, cardboard, and a child's tent, all thrown into the back of a City truck each time. We are told we can get our stuff back, but it will only be returned to the proper owner. And we have yet to be told when and where to go to get it. Maybe this spring or summer. There has only been one arrest to date.
Today, a lawyer is expected to come to our GA. I am not sure who it is, or what they know, or where they are from. But it will be a visit welcomed by all. While none have suffered at the hands of police, all have felt the arrival of General Winter, Joseph Stalin's savior during World War II. And General Winter knows the Erie battlefield well. We hope the lawyer can help figure a way for us to be able to survive the repeated barrages of sub zero cold, snow, ice and gale force winds that are the artillery of General Winter. So far, our only help here has come from FireDogLake's Occupy Supply.
And what a great amount of help it has been. While the supplies sent have been greatly welcomed, the knowledge that this front in the Occupy Movement is not forgotten is a gift that warms us like the summer sun. Each time the City strips us of our weather protection, they harden our resolve to stay. Yet the less we have to defeat those attacks by General Winter, the more likely we are to suffer attrition.
I now have the duty of Occupy Supply Liaison. It is my job to show you what we have battled so far, and what we need to succeed in defeating General Winter. The best way to see the devolution of conditions is with pictures. The evolving spirit can be heard in the Erie City Council meeting we attended this week. I handed my camcorder off to a fellow Occupier to record the meeting. I have yet to edit it for length and relevance, and when I do I will post it here. But a quote to City Council from one of the Occupiers demonstrates the fortitude we have:
"You think by taking our stuff and not giving it back will force us to leave when the weather really gets bad. But it won't, we will still be here in the spring"
Occupy Erie, eye pokes and eye candy:
A rainy night at the Gazebo in Perry's Square early in the occupation.
A view of the interior. Not much gear yet.
A sunny day in late October at the Gazebo. The stone in the foreground is the Workers' Memorial.
More gear, a little colder.
I said, "Too bad you don't have any space blankets." A very cold person said "Oh shit," then opened a box of supplies with the forgotten space blankets.
A shelter, from the outside.
And the inside.
We had to take down the shelter.
And then we had to remove some of the clear plastic.
We had to move out of the Gazebo for a scheduled event. We set this up.
Then raid the encampment, take away the canopy, tarps, blankets, and god only knows what else. But it is still "Thumbs Up" for this Occupier.
After another raid, our camp.
Oh no! A tent is going up.
This is a big middle finger surrogate.
With no gear for rain or snow protection, we moved back to the Gazebo.
But we aren't freeloaders.
My first Occupy Supply delivery as a Liaison.
The genuine article.
This blanket will be put to good use. It came with several pairs of gloves.
We attempt to sway City Council to allow us to exist without harassment.
Some of Occupy Erie listen to the proceedings.
After I spoke, I gave the City Council a number of photos I have taken of Occupy Erie. They are passing them around in this picture. I mentioned that:
1) I have been to Occupy DC (3x), Occupy Pittsburgh (6x), and Ifni only knows how many times at the Erie encampment;
2) I am a member of the United Electrical Workers Union Local 506 Legislative Action Committee (UE506LAC) and we support the Occupy Movement wholeheartedly;
3) I write articles for the Daily Kos and FireDogLake;
4) I am the FDL Occupy Supply Liaison for Occupy Erie;
5) It would be a shame to be seen in National News as oppressors of the Occupy Movement, which has support greater than City Council can imagine.
A number of people spoke to Council about Occupy Erie. Several were not part of our Occupation, but citizens that support us and our goals, which are also their goals. Several were leaders in the minority community, that have been fighting this battle much longer than we have. We thanked them profusely for their support, and the two groups are to talk and work together for all our betterment.
If our meeting with the lawyer is not fruitful in getting our gear back and having the City to allow us to set up at least tarps, then I would ask Occupy Supply to try to supply us with insulated coveralls or snowmobile suits. We have sleepers rotating through the week, and could share the coveralls so that whom ever is sleeping that night is wearing them, protected from General Winter.
There are two ways you can help us. The first is through contributions. Please send something to the Occupy Supply group helping us out with winter weather gear. There is no bank account for Occupy Erie yet, the kitty has never been over $100 that I know of. Money for supplies like propane and services web hosting have been tight. And we are at the mercy of the City for our internet connection for our Livestream. Livestream is our guardian. Those interested in donating directly to Occupy Erie should email me at mentatmark at gmail dot com. I will be mentioning this at the GA this evening.
The second is to let the Officials of Erie hear from you. (hint: Erie is big on tourism and the money that brings) Here are some contacts:
Mayor Joseph E. Sinnott, (814) 870-1200 and webpage
Dave Rocco, Coordinator of Special Events, and the head of the department that issues lisenses for Side Walk Vendors and the man that keeps taking our stuff, 814-870-1253.
Mark Aleksandrowicz, City Councilman in charge of Code Enforcement and Special Events, 814-833-3861 and email email@example.com
The rest of the City Council members and contact info is here.
Here is an interesting thought at a possible way to legitimize ourselves in the eyes of the City and a picture again showing our members in action having unofficially adopted Perry's Square:
City of Erie’s Adopt-A-Park Program
Mark Haller, aka Mentatmark
For those wanting more Occupy Eye Candy, check out my Flickr Pro account here for Occupy specific photos, here for Occupy Erie only photos, and here for all the photos of activism I have taken recently, broken down by day and event.