Posted by: Deb Henry | 02/11/2012

How Occupy Came to SLC

“We’re still here.” — Occupy SLC camp at Gallivan Center on February 11, 2012.


— The wonderful Jessica Lee wrote this as part of a larger piece on Occupy. —

In September 2011, as thousands assembled on Wall Street to draw attention to the corruption of our economic system, no one anticipated that an international movement would grow out of the mere occupation of a public place.

And yet, over the past few months, thousands have gathered in hundreds of cities to create new civil spaces in which grievances can be aired, solutions found, connections forged, communities fostered and ideas, so often shackled, finally freed. These impromptu encampments have brought together strangers from all points on the political, social, economic and cultural maps. By literally removing the walls between neighbors, these communities have created a culture of open, transparent and innovative thinking.

Occupy Salt Lake City is one of these communities. What began four months ago when the first tents were pitched in Pioneer Park has now coalesced into a group seeking to find radical solutions to both local and national issues. The beauty of the Occupy movement is that it humbles and empowers participants; they are able to acquire the knowledge, tools and, most importantly, the support needed in order to take action. In a society that constantly puts its people in a state of complacency, this, more than anything else, is the power of the movement. It asks you to step up and take responsibility, make mistakes, ask questions and constantly push boundaries.

While many of the physical occupations have been disbanded, evicted and brutally pushed away, Salt Lake City still hosts a vibrant 24-hour tent assembly at Gallivan Plaza on Main Street, and holds weekly General Assemblies and Workgroup meetings to keep the dialogue moving forward. Education and direct participation are key to this dialogue.

One of the things Occupy wishes to educate our city about is the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which will be holding its 39th-annual meeting in Salt Lake City from July 25 to 28. This organization brings representatives from major corporations (such as Monsanto, Wal-Mart, PhRMA and Koch Companies) into closed-door meetings with legislatures from all over the country in order to draft “model bills” for the upcoming year—bills and legislation that benefit profits over people, and corporations over communities. Many of the anti-immigration bills being put into place, including Utah’s House Bill 487 (the federal lawsuit against which will be heard Feb. 17) were conceived and drafted by ALEC tasks forces. The ALEC Welcoming Committee is coordinating with national activist groups in order to prepare for July, and will be reaching out to the groups most strongly influenced by decisions that are not drafted by the people, but by money and lobbyists.

Direct participation comes in the form of Occupy Elections, an initiative that will place participants as delegates in both the Democratic and Republican meetings that decide who will be allowed to run for office. The goals are twofold: Occupy Elections will allow people to fully participate in their government and will also show them the broken and vulnerable nature of the electoral system.

During the next year, Occupy SLC will be working together with existing organizations such as Peaceful Uprising, the National Prison Divestment Campaign, Transition Salt Lake, One World Cafe, the Revolutionary Students Union and the other Utah Occupations (such as Provo and Park City) in order to broaden our community and create an even stronger push for reform and transformation. There is strength that comes from education and collaboration, a power which comes from pooling together the collected experiences and wisdoms of groups and individuals.

We are Occupy Salt Lake City. We are the 99 percent. We are adaptable and determined. We are prepared to question the status quo. And we invite you to join us. It is together that we shall prevail.

— The wonderful Jessica Lee wrote this as part of a larger piece on Occupy. —

Photos from the raid of *one* of SLC’s camps are here. As Jessica said, we still have our camp at Gallivan Plaza as of 2/11/2012!

Posted by: Deb Henry | 02/08/2012

Guess Who is Running for Office?

YOU, or someone you know — hopefully.

There are 150+ offices up for election in November of 2012, and the deadline to register is in March. We need more trustworthy, smart women in office. Can you suggest someone who you respect in your community that would excel in a leadership role? Over 50% of women currently in office were asked to run by someone they respected. If you give us the names, we will make sure our Utah Democrat Matriarchs help us do the rest.

When we run for office in our communities, our neighbors show up to vote. It increases Democratic voter turnout because this time, it’s personal and a few votes can make a real difference. If we can show disenfranchised citizens that a Democrat can effectively handle a local elected office, they are much more likely to consider voting for another Democrat in the future. Running for ANY office is a service to our community because of the conversations it starts and the voters it invigorates. Leadership is a privilege. There are far too many people in politics (affecting our lives daily) comfortable in their jobs because no one runs against them. You can help.

Since Fall of 2011, the 70/100 Committee has been working with 75+ powerful females in our community who share their experiences, help research the positions available, develop the trainings women want to see, and spend time designing an effective long-term strategy for getting more women elected in Utah.

We are in the process of raising funds to support this effort, including a paid staff position to answer questions from you and future candidates. (I will continue to act in this capacity until we find a good match for a director.) We will be implementing important trainings, pooling our networks of friends, and creating a powerful network of empowered women ready to take back our government.

Please, help us make sure each of these offices has a Democrat running for office. Share this invitation and submission form via your networks, Facebook, and other social media.

Submit names here (with this easy link to remember):

For more information on our efforts, and the work that has already been done, check out this FAQ:

Our deadline is mid-March, so please submit a few names today.

We need more women in office to give young girls someone normal to look up to and to encourage them to be strong, independent women. Check out the documentary Miss Representation about women in office, then commit to changing the playing field.

Posted by: Deb Henry | 02/07/2012

12 year old girl’s perspective on patriotism

Salt Lake local, Brandy Fox, shared this piece written by her daughter, Phoebe. It makes me wonder why we don’t hand off the world to the next generation NOW before the rest of us screw it up any worse…

Brandy said, “She is 12.5 [years old]. She has Autism with a genius-level IQ and Autism-related disabilities, but language & ideas happen to be where she excels. I hope she keeps writing these zingers all through school.”

This was Phoebe’s essay for the prompt, “I’m proud to be a United States citizen because…”

“I am not proud to be a United States citizen, for several reasons. America is a flawed nation with racism, racist immigration laws, homophobia, religious intolerance, and a fake democracy which is actually a republic oligarchy (in which one wealthy group of citizens holds the most power over everyone else.) I don’t believe in the idea of patriotism because it fosters xenophobia towards people of other nations. The definition of what it means to be a patriot is hazy and is often based on what different religious groups think it means to be patriotic. America is very militaristic, not a peace-loving nation. I can’t feel patriotic about a country that is always at war.

“Patriotism demands ‘group-think.’ When people are patriotic, they fall into an either/or situation – either you are a good, proud American and support the war, or you criticize it and you are not a good, proud American. It is an attitude that looks down on other nations by saying ‘my country is better than yours.’ The United States is not the best nation in the world. It is one among very many, and there are many people sharing our world.”

Wise, wise woman.

Posted by: Deb Henry | 01/30/2012

Save the Libraries!

It would be fantastic if libraries had a prominent “share” button in their online catalogs so that I could link to the library’s collection of resources. I like to make recommendations or refer to books and I would prefer to point them to a library book  instead of linking to Amazon’s store (granted, out of habit).

I would love to be able to remind people they can get books I am recommending at the library, and not just the store or from a . Libraries are so important to our communities from giving someone without a computer an opportunity to apply for a job online to being able to utilize a librarian trained in the mastery of accurate research.

This is a book that the library has, but yet I linked to Amazon (because I am a jerk). The book is about the mis-perception that America’s justice system is at all fair. Many of the systemic problems we identified and discussed at our Occupy camp in Salt Lake were a result of a broken criminal justice system and organizations like ALEC that ghostwrite much of the legislation introduced by politicians that exacerbates our prison-industrial complex. The Nation has a great series on ALEC’s permeating influence on our government.

The United States has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s incarcerated.

ALEC will be having their annual conference here in SLC in July. Feel free to join us here in SLC for the festivities! 😉

…but I digress; save the libraries and then read this book:

Posted by: Deb Henry | 01/02/2012

Happy New Year

‎”I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make new mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”

-Neil Gaiman and his take on 2012

Posted by: Deb Henry | 12/10/2011

My speech for Vice Chair

Back in June, I ran for Vice Chair of the Democratic Party here in Utah because I support a diversity of tactics working within and outside of the system. I am quite proud of this speech and wanted to share it. (If you’re not a Democrat, replace the word Democrat with American or Human and all of the sentiments still apply.)


Almost five years ago, I packed up the trunk of my rear-wheel drive sedan and moved across the country to a new place that many told me I would never be able to call home. I smiled and told them that maybe they were right, but I needed to discover that for myself. The wild west was beckoning and I could not resist the call of a fresh start even if family and familiarity would be thousands of miles away. I insisted I was looking forward to the challenge.I am not going to lie to you; my first year in Utah was a big adjustment, especially considering I had to start from scratch making friends. But the real issue with my first year here was that I let those naysayers echo in the back of my head. I was so focused on how Utah was not New Jersey…that I could not enjoy Utah for what it is.The beauty of that realization was that I then recognized my role in making Utah my home. I bought a house. I got a job that I was passionate about. I stopped talking about moving back to New Jersey and I began calling Utah home. I sought out causes in which to invest my time and effort long-term. I committed to making Utah my home. By taking ownership of my frustration, I also took ownership of my ability to explore solutions and be a part of that change.In exploring this newfangled state, I threw myself into the lion’s den and sought out a job in Governor Huntsman’s office. I was invited to and attended the wedding receptions for several of our LDS interns. I took those same interns out to the lawn for the Prop 8 demonstrations and we discussed how it was important to recognize and protect the people’s right to ask for redress of their grievances.  What I found in these experiences was more curiosity rather than condemnation.

But honestly, this election really does not really have anything to do with me. I ran for office because I wanted to offer you a choice. I wanted to remind you that you always have a choice. The reason I am running for Vice Chair of the Democratic Party is that I recognize that my voice is stronger when it is combined with your voice. We as Democrats need to empower each other to explore creative solutions in our communities. We need to encourage those who are participating with us in the fight even if we do not always agree on their approach. It is going to take those individuals who are ready to step outside their comfort zone to lead that fight — and I have a feeling many of you here today are ready to do just that.  I will not pretend that I know your communities better than you do. What I will promise you is that I am ready to listen and ready to have the difficult yet productive conversations that will help us elect Democrats in all 29 counties.

Right now, our state and our nation sit at a pivotal crossroad. Voters, especially in Utah, believe their voices do not matter. Let me assure you that the banks who pillaged your retirement accounts and the CEOs who deny personal responsibility for the Red Butte oil spills want you to believe that you do not have a choice.  They have driven a wedge between us. They tell us we have to choose Medicare or Social Security. Education or roads — but all of this is a distraction. They have us pointing the finger at each other instead of putting aside our differences and looking outward together.

I know these conversations will be difficult, but if there is one thing you can say about someone from New Jersey, it is that we are used to people not agreeing with us. Today I am here to promise you that I am not going anywhere. I will be here with you as we fight for our values.  Utah is my home.  Utah is our home.

In the months leading up to this election, many of us from different backgrounds have already come together to form committees that have explored and detailed our strategies for fundraising, communications and recruitment. I am Co-Chairing a committee specifically tasked with electing more women into office.

Our job as the people is to cultivate a common consensus that makes it impossible for our voice not to be heard. If we want clean water and clean air, If we want well-funded schools, If we want prohibitions against discrimination — we the people are responsible for making those decisions inevitable. We cannot let our participation in our government stop at the ballot box. The time has come to move beyond the tired bitterness of being Democrats in one of the reddest states in the nation. We must choose unity over divisions and send a clear message to those who are frustrated with the status quo that the Democrats are the ones with the solutions and the Democrats have the organizational skills to design solutions.

We have a responsibility and commitment to the next generation to build upon the work gifted to us by previous generations: those who decided to be teachers even though they would never be rich and those who taught through their example by putting their bodies calmly in the way of injustice through civil disobedience.

I am asking you to elect me as the next Vice Chair of the Democratic Party of Utah.  I am asking for your vote because of the respect I feel I have earned from so many of you on several issues.  I am asking for your vote because of my commitment to the Democratic Party. I am not just an activist, I am not just a woman, I am not just a union supporter. I am a Democrat that fundamentally understands that we need to all work together to elect more Democrats and that means empowering women and men of all ethnicities, youth and seniors, gays and straights, centrists and progressives.

I am asking you – all of the above – for your vote today.  Thank You.

My name is Deb Henry and I am running to be your next Vice Chair.


Occupy Salt Lake to host #OccupyThanksgiving Potluck Dinner on Thursday, November 23, 2011 at One World Cafe in conjuction with a Gratitude March to and from our current 24-hour location at West Gallivan Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. We welcome anyone in the community who would like to share a meal with the rest of the 99% to join in the festivities throughout the day. Positive attitudes, curiosity and constructive conversation are always welcome. Bring something to share with the community if you wish to do so.

One World Cafe has generously donated use of their kitchen to prepare potluck options to share dinner and sitting space with the community on Thursday afternoon. One World Cafe will be functioning as Occupy Salt Lake’s community kitchen until further notice. Anyone wishing to donate natural, organic food to the Occupy movement can bring donations to One World Cafe.  One World Everybody Eats (OWEE) is a cafe and nonprofit community kitchen based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Its motto is “a hand up, not a hand out.” The community kitchen concept is similar to that of a soup kitchen, but incorporates volunteer and common-effort aspects closer to those of a community garden. The restaurant has sliding scale pricing during normal operating hours but our dinner will be offered for FREE. Donations to #OccupySLC are always welcome or donate to One World Everybody Eats, here.

If you have ever been curious about your local Occupy Salt Lake movement, this is a wonderful open-house for you to learn more.

The schedule is as follows:

  • Wednesday, 3pm, One World Cafe (of One World Everybody Eats Foundation, a 501c3) – Food Preparation and accepting donations of food, time and solidarity.
  • Wednesday, 6pm, General Assembly at One World Cafe.
  • Thursday, 9am, Food Preparation at One World Cafe
  • Thursday, 12 noon, meet at Gallivan Plaza for music, activities and sign making.
  • Thursday, 2pm, Gratitude March to One World Cafe
  • Thursday, 2pm – 4pm, #OccupyThanksgiving Dinner at One World Cafe
  • Thursday, 4pm, Gratitude March back to Gallivan Plaza
  • Thursday, 4pm until ? – More music and activities at #occupySLC at the Gallivan Center

Love, Hope and Solidarity,

Occupy Salt Lake

On 11/12/11, our Pioneer Park location of Occupy Salt Lake was torn down by police. Since the raid, it has been confirmed by Mayor Jean Quan of Oakland that there were coordinated raids of the Occupy campsites in at least 18 cities, though SLC Mayor Becker’s Chief of Staff, Dave Everitt denies that the Mayor’s office was a part of the coordination. Everitt acknowledges that he was unaware of SLCPD Chief Burbank’s role in a national conversation, though language used in justification for the raids at the 18 camps nationwide was quite similar to the justification for raiding Pioneer Park. An investigation into the matter is pending.

Earlier this week, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s Legal Advisor resigned in support of Occupy Oakland. Eleven members of the New York City Council issued a written statement condemning the actions of Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD. One NYC Council member was arrested at OWS.

Occupy Salt Lake Workshops continue to meet. These meetings begin with announcements and break into affinity groups and working groups for specific campaigns. Meetings draw 50-75 people from the community interested in having a role in being a part of building the community we want to see. it’s a great opportunity to meet organizers in our local SLC Occupy movement.

Occupy Salt Lake will be hosting an Occupy Thanksgiving at 2pm at One World Cafe in downtown SLC. We invite everyone in SLC to join us for a potluck and to bring something to share. We will be prepping signs for a gratitude march starting at 12 noon at Gallivan and will march to One World at 2pm. Since our Occupy Salt Lake kitchen was cleared out of Pioneer Park, we ask that donations of food be brought directly to One World Cafe. (One World is a 501c3 and donations are tax deductible.) One World provides natural, organic meals based on a gift economy, allowing patrons to “pay what they can” and serving all members of the community regardless of their ability to pay. Dave, the Manager of One World has graciously offered to be OccupySLC’s host for meals and provide meetings space. Support Occupy Salt Lake by supporting One World Cafe and try to eat there or volunteer when you can. You can’t do nothing.

  • If you’re interested in donating food for our Occupy Thanksgiving Dinner, please bring donations directly to One World.

Occupy Salt Lake continues to maintain a 24-hour, permitted presence in downtown SLC at the Gallivan Plaza.

The next General Assembly is Wednesday, 11/23/11 at 6pm at ONE WORLD CAFE while we prep for Thanksgiving.

Tomorrow, Tues.11/22/11, there will be a panel on KRCL RadioActive discussing the 9 Demands of the 99% at 6pm MST. You can listen at 90.9 FM or stream online. It will be a panel discussing with Jim Judd of the AFL-CIO/ Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party of Utah, Josh Kanter of Alliance for a Better Utah and myself. If you have any comments on the 9 Demands or articles you want me to read, please feel free to leave them here in the comments.

I created a Reddit OccupySLC community to share articles, information and create discussion. We are also initiating an Occupy Book Club via this Reddit forum (for now).

  • How Reddit works: the value of articles can be voted on and discussion can take place in the comment section. Better articles show up higher in the feed. Comments are threaded and can be sorted by popular, controversial, old, new, hot. It’s a great forum and a crowd-sourced way for us to share information. You can opt-in to many different subject areas that aggregate into a main feed on your homepage.

The title of this post came from a class of high school students that I spoke to on Friday. They asked me what they could do to support the Occupy movement. “You can’t do nothing.”

If anyone has any ideas as to how to network local businesses and have them be transparent in their participation in our local economy, please let me know! We can protest all we want, but I am more interested in helping support a sustainable, resilient local economy. One way to do this would be to turn SLC into a Transition Town.

More updates soon!

“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” – Arundhati Roy

Posted by: Deb Henry | 11/13/2011

The raid on Occupy Salt Lake

Friend and fellow activist Jesse Fruhwirth shortly before his arrest last night.

Yesterday, after a long day of internal discussions and negotiations with police at #OccupySLC as to our next steps, it began to snow. Friday, Mayor Becker issued an order shutting down one of our Occupy SLC camps at sundown Saturday.

Occupiers had little time to break down their tents. Many did not have anywhere to put their belongings as many in the population are homeless and many places won’t let you bring in possessions. The hesitation to leave the park was due to the uncertainty of where to go and an optimism of continued, productive negotiations with Chief Burbank. The dumpsters full of camping gear and donated food are an important reminder of what we are fighting for.

Let us remember that Occupy SLC did not choose to be in Pioneer Park which already had a rampant homelessness problem. Police exacerbated the issue by dropping off drunks at the camp late at night. If there was any increase in crime, you can thank the tactics the city took to push us out of the park. FYI – Money was raised and there were several port-a-potties in the park. Any reports you’ve read about sanitation issues are exaggerated. The supposed fight with 30 people, was actually 5 people. I also find it insulting that 2 days after Mayor Becker’s impressive re-election, this is how he treats his community.

Yesterday’s 18 arrests came after an obnoxious show of intimidation by the police (see photo above). Roads around the park were closed, inconveniencing travelers and dozens of massive police busses were parked at the south side of the park. 50+ police cars were the next line of vehicles. While we support the individuals who make up the police force and choose to work in a profession that aims to protect our rights, we reject the institutionalized police state that has created the prison-industrial complex which (coincidentally!) helps generate more homeless.

While allowing us to to be in the park from 8am to 5pm has been discussed with the city, the reason we take exception to this “solution” is that a community isn’t built during business hours. It also assumes that the population has somewhere else to go in the evenings. We have an opportunity here in SLC to draw attention to the homelessness that exists as a symptom of the greed of the 1% in the richest country in the world. I have learned so much about my fellow occupiers by spending time in that park. Camping out is essential to understanding the magnitude of our commitment and the magnitude of the issues at hand. It also keeps SLC’s commitment to this movement visible in our community.

Don’t get me wrong, there are incredible people participating in many ways during this movement. We support a diversity of tactics — but the people who want to camp down there and dig deep into their social conditioning as to how the world treats our homeless, should have the right to do so. I pay taxes, I want to camp on the streets I pay for.

I ran into a good friend at the store today who is on the Board of Directors for the The Road Home, a phenomenal non-profit in our community that deals with the issue of homelessness. Her perspective is important to me and I hold a high amount of respect for her and the services that exist trying to address the homelessness issue. She’s supportive of the Occupy movement but wanted to talk about the services available in town. I explained that the role of Occupy is addressing the system that creates homelessness. We’re going to talk later this week more about the ties between Occupy’s message and how the homeless are affected. I am grateful that Occupy has begun discussion on many of the dysfunctions of the current system.

I want to personally thank John Netto for his generosity yesterday in helping people move some of their belongings into storage and get rides up to Occupy Ogden (where the encampment is on supportive private property and cannot be removed at the whim of the Mayor). John is a successful business person but experienced a period of time in his life where he too was homeless. John bought occupiers pizza, helped with bail and called me this morning to check in on what else he could do. Thank you John.

Shout-out to Occupy Wall Street which unanimously supported our peaceful actions last night.

Mad love to everyone arrested yesterday standing up for their community.

Thank you to everyone who shares our message responsibly with their friends.


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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