Sunday, 13 November 2011

#OccupySLC's Eviction : Taking Stock The Morning After

In my last post I detailed how the Salt Lake Police Department, in a massive display of force, swooped in on  the #OccupySLC Base Camp on the evening of 11/12/11 and demolished the entire thing, evicting all the longstanding #Occupants of the settlement.

#OccupySLC has released a statement to the media regarding last night's police action. An excerpt:

As the sun was setting on Salt Lake City last night, scores of police from several different agencies occupied 400 South and 400 West outside of Pioneer Park to shut down the camping operations for #OccupySLC. Those wishing to remain steadfast in their belief in the meaning of occupying public space were arrested. Eighteen demonstrators were handcuffed and sent off to the county jail while another demonstrator was released with a citation. All those arrested were picked up by 2:00 AM and were promptly picked up by supporters. 
There were no incidents of physical violence from those occupying or the police. Police shoved one protester to the ground, but little else outside of the exorbitant amount of vehicles and equipment was excessive... 
...While #OccupySLC does not agree with our camp being torn down and questions whether our constitutional rights to free speech have been violated, it is clear that the police's restraint from physical violence facilitated a situation where basic human decency was not attacked. This is in stark contrast to the much more violent evictions that took place last night in other cities.

(Emphasis mine)

I agree with this statement on two important counts: first, that the amount of police, vehicles, etc. was ridiculous. Second, that despite this fact, the SLPD did show restraint and there was a heartening lack of violence throughout the proceedings.

Wondering what newly reelected Mayor Ralph Becker thinks about the eviction of #OccupySLC? Wonder no more! He has released an official statement from the Mayor's Office - here's an excerpt:

Following the tragic death at the Occupy SLC encampment in Pioneer Park Thursday night, Salt Lake City will no longer be issuing overnight free-speech camping permits anywhere in the City. 
Multiple City agencies have participated in creating ordinance exceptions to allow for Occupy SLC to carry out their protest since early October by way of camping on public property. It is now clear that public health and safety are at risk, and the most appropriate course of action is to accommodate the Occupy SLC movement in ways that do not include overnight camping. Protest participants have been advised that they may not sleep overnight at either encampment after tonight [11/11/11].
Media postmortems of last night's police action are as follows: Fox 13  here  , KSL  here  , KUTV  here  with an angle about the Gallivan Plaza protesters, ABC 4  here  , and the Salt Lake Tribune  here  .

A note about those postmortems: reports of #OccupySLC's death have been greatly exaggerated.

Today at 12:00 PM MST, high noon, there is a rally at the City County building. At 4 PM MST at Pioneer Park there is a General Assembly. There are street theater events planned for Gallivan Plaza for just about every day this coming week (more details on that as they are nailed down).

The first (and hopefully not only) issue of "Notes From Occupation: An Occupy SLC Newsletter" made it off the presses just in time to be distributed prior to and during the eviction:

Good stuff. It has an excellent variety of perspectives, and includes some fascinating interviews with different participants in the movement.

Perhaps most encouragingly, there is already a meeting scheduled regarding the Free School and People's Library - which at this moment exist only in theory and memory - in a week or so.

As the pre-raid #OccupySLC press release stated eloquently (I paraphrase): you can tear down #OccupySLC's tents, but you can't extinguish their light.

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