Friday Dec 9th: I was anxious to deliver the first batch of cold-weather supplies from Occupy Supply to Occupy SLC. The box of hats, face masks and scarves had arrived at my house on Wednesday afternoon, having been shipped the previous Friday, Dec 2nd. Having been out of town on Wednesday and Thursday, I had told my contact at Occupy SLC, we’ll call him Sam, that I would probably be calling him on Friday to arrange the delivery.
I met Sam at just after 4pm at the Gallivan Center (their present camp location) and we went into their media tent. There were 3 other guys and a young woman inside, and they were pleasantly surprised when Sam told them about the supplies. The box was opened immediately, and their eyes got wide as they peered inside and took it all in.
I was explaining what was in it, but I think they were only hearing every other word, if that. Then the questions came – where did this come from, who made it, and especially “Was it made just for us?” when they spied the words ‘Occupy Supply’ on the hats and scarves. I guess maybe they were just expecting stuff from a used clothing store or something, because they got all excited when they realized that it was nice, new stuff. I explained that it came from Firedoglake, it was new and union-made in the USA, and that FDL was doing this very same thing in over 60 cities all across the country.
They quickly donned the hats, saying how cool the whole Occupy Supply logo was. Jason picked up a red scarf, held it up for a moment to admire it, and quickly wrapped it around his neck. The whole time they were all saying thank you over and over, and what really nice stuff it was. Sam repeated several times how much it was appreciated, and he said that the face masks will come in really handy, especially in the mornings.
Salt Lake has been having clear, cold nights with temps in the mid-teens for over a week, and frost covers everything in the morning. Sam said he would distribute the rest of the hats and scarves etc to the other campers, who number anywhere from 15 to 20 people at any one time. The number of tents in the encampment has grown to about 14 tents from 6 or 7 initially, much fewer than they had at Pioneer Park (60 or 70 there) before the eviction, but Gallivan Center has a much smaller space for tents, with no place to expand, so they’ve about reached the limitations of that space.
On Saturday morning at 10am I went back to see how the gear was working out. There were only 3 people in the media tent, all wearing Occupy Supply hats; most of the other campers were still in their tents.
Outside I met a fellow named John who had been standing around since I arrived. Turns out he was waiting for his son, one of the occupiers camping out, to wake up and get dressed. He explained that he was there so his son could help him move an aunt out of the home she was leasing; she had to move because the owner whom she was leasing from had been foreclosed on, and she hadn’t been informed until the last minute. John was very proud of his son for being there and said that it was just this kind of thing, foreclosures and the corporate mindset that has led to it, that makes it all the more important for the Occupy Movement to succeed.
So, I am happy to report that Occupy Salt Lake City is alive and well, even though it is smaller than before. Since there have been no regular General Assemblies after the occupation was evicted from Pioneer Park, I’ve been attending some of their ‘town hall’ meetings on Monday nights.
The downtown library has generously offered an indoor meeting room in which to carry out the meetings, which consist of a group of about 50 people for an hour or so of general discussion, updates and suggestions, followed by an hour or more of individual committee break-out discussions. It was at one of these that I introduced myself and FDL’s Occupy Supply program to the group and was able to meet Sam and exchange contact information.
I plan to keep going to the town hall meetings and getting to know more of the people involved.