When #OccupySLC initially negotiated with the SLC Police Department and Mayor’s Office, we were told we could only have one permit. They said we could stay on the property at Pioneer Park “for now” but then changed their minds to only allowing the occupation to continue in Pioneer Park with no alternatives.
The occupation of the lot in front of the Fed is a response to our city’s lack of respect for our request to peaceably assemble. When we were told we could not stay in our satellite camp in front of the Federal Reserve building, the city offered to let us rent a parking spot for $25 each night. Instead of accepting, Thursday night, protesters chose to occupy a nearby lot abandoned by a massive trust company based in Georgia. The site was improved, weeds cleared, debris collected and plans for a free school and community garden were discussed.
Today around 3pm, the #OSLC camp at the Federal Reserve was told that there had been a complaint and the occupiers needed to leave the lot. Because the owner of the land was so hard to track down due to hiding behind land trusts, occupiers were given until morning to move.
Things you should know:
- By occupying the land, the camp was drawing attention to the fact that the city did not give them an alternative site.
- By occupying the land, the site is in much better condition than it was before the occupation took place.
- The camp is willing to move if an issue is offered for a comparable site nearby.
UPDATE – 11/8/11, 7 am – Some more information about the property owner thanks to a blog by the esteemed Jesse Fruhwirth.
UPDATE – 11/8/11, 4:30 pm – A rundown of today’s events by Charles Bernard.
UPDATE: 11/10/11, 6 am – After peaceful and amicable negotiations with our respectful Chief of Police Chris Burbank, the camp has moved to Gallivan Plaza near Wells Fargo bank, across the street from the Trax line. Come visit! First tent went up today.
Salt Lake City, UT, November 8, 2011: Occupy SLC is reaching out to the public for support to defend our demonstrators at Occupy the Fed. After meeting with Police Chief Burbank last night, occupiers at the lot across from the Federal Reserve building were told that they would need to leave the premises or face arrests in the morning. The occupiers responded stating that they would move peacefully if the police, the city and parks departments worked to provide a permit for a new space to occupy. If a new location is not provided, occupiers have vowed to remain on the lot and face possible arrest. No response or offers have been provided yet, and so Occupy SLC is asking for supporters and news crews to arrive at the lot on State Street at 6:45 AM to document and witness the interaction between police and demonstrators in the morning.
STATEMENT FROM OCCUPY THE FED OF OCCUPY SLC
Occupying wasteland is not the same as occupying a private space like someone’s lawn. If someone uses their yard and you set up a camp in it, then you are in their way. This is not the same situation for the area that has been occupied across from the Federal Reserve building.
This lot was originally home to a bar that was bought up and torn down for questionable reasons. The land has been unattended since this move was taken by its most recent owners in November of 2009 and has been left to degrade, leaving a mark of ruin upon Salt Lake City. Occupiers have picked up trash and collected weeds, mobilizing to beautify the space and make plans that would improve the area and benefit the community. A community stage would be built for lectures, entertainment and teach-ins. Art installations and a community garden would be created in the spring. The zone would be alcohol, drug and crime free for those choosing to occupy.
The move to the lot was taken when conditions became harsher with last weekend’s snowstorm. The city’s initial ruling for the occupation at the fed asked that no structures or sleeping bags were present, a condition that would inevitably push occupiers out. When negotiators readdressed this concern, the best the city had to offer was a single parking space for $25 a day, an absurd location and criteria for feasibly sheltering and protecting demonstrators. Occupiers realized they had to look for a new spot on their own, and that is when they found the lot that was being neglected which they decided to occupy last Thursday night.
Occupy the Fed doesn’t wish to enter into any sort of confrontation, but realistic provisions need to be negotiated if the police and the city truly wish to engage diplomatically with its people. If these standards seem unreasonable, we will respond the way we have from the beginning—peacefully, but in the way that we decide.
If a new location is not allowed by the local government, we will still continue to occupy. If the police make arrests for this, it will not end the occupation. It will only make the people more firm in their resolve, and the occupation will continue until people are allowed to have their voices heard in the manner they are free to choose.