Posted by: Deb Henry | 11/12/2011

The eviction of Occupy Salt Lake

Occupy Salt Lake camp at Pioneer Park is buzzing with uncertainty. We have been asked to leave both camps (Pioneer Park and Gallivan Plaza) by sunset today (5:12 pm MST) or face arrest.

The usual suspects say the campers (of which a large percentage are homeless) should go to the shelters in the community. What they seem to not understand is that the shelters are full. You also cannot get into the shelter if you do not have identification. Instead of identification, you can bring a utility bill or a credit card statement (if you’re so lucky to have had an address at one point or the luxury of a credit card). The media does not tell you that to get into these shelters, the homeless need to have their TB shots. Without healthcare, how is one supposed to keep up with luxuries like a TB shot? Homeless are also not allowed to bring anything with them into the shelter, so if they have a suitcase full of their prized possessions, they are expected to abandon it.

We have been told the camp is undermining the services available to the homeless community. They don’t seem to understand that we, as Occupy, are trying to address the fundamental issue of how one becomes homeless in the first place. We’re not looking to put a band-aid on this problem. We are not interested in continuing to clean up the mess of government corruption that continues to churn out more homeless every year while the 1% gets richer. We are addressing the problem at its root. Homelessness should not be so institutionalized that we stop asking why there are homeless in one of the richest nations in the world.

Yesterday at Occupy Salt Lake, we lost a member of our community named Mike who was homeless. No cause of death was determined and an autopsy is pending. Chief Chris Burbank of the SLC Police blamed #OccupySLC for the death using #OSLC as a scapegoat and a reason to shut down both camps. At this point, it’s obvious that Chief Burbank is taking his orders from the Mayor Ralph Becker’s office and we urge you to contact them and express your support for our right to assembly. I find it strangely convenient that days after Mayor Becker’s re-election, his tune has completely changed with regard to working with activists for the rights of the 99%. Shame on Mayor Becker.

  • “If a homeless man dies in Pioneer Park and there aren’t hippies around to blame… does SLCPD made a sound?”
    ~ Bob Aagard

This afternoon, the camp is packing up their belongings but many are unsure where they will go or if they will leave. The Unitarian Church in Ogden, Utah has let the Occupy group there stay. Since it is private land, they cannot be evicted like SLC. Chief Burbank has assured campers that space will be opened up at the full shelters and that he will facilitate space for storage for tents and gear. This temporary solution is unacceptable to the group and many have committed to peaceful non-violent acts of civil disobedience tonight to protect their right to assembly.  The reason why many resist the negotiations to come back daily yet not camp is that it is an attempt to hide the issue of homelessness. Asking us to come back everyday assumes that the population has somewhere else to go. We stand with the 99% and the homeless in Pioneer Park in addressing the fundamental flaws in our communities.

Right now, it’s snowing and my hands and toes are freezing. Activists are livid with the Mayor Becker who baited us through the election and then switched his tune. We’re not sure how tonight will play out, but we are positive that this is not the end of Occupy Salt Lake.

We have no choice but to continue. To give up is not morally permissible. This may be the way things are now, but this is not the way they are supposed to be.

Contact Mayor  Ralph Becker:

Spread the word:

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