Have you heard about #Occupy Erie, Pennsylvania? Most probably haven’t, or, at least, are unaware of its 17-day history. We’ve come to know #Occupy NYC as the birth place and mothership of the #OWS Movement. We know about the criminal violence by cops against #Occupy Oakland. We know of the Constitutional victories against the bought and paid for by Wall Street governors and mayors by #Occupy Albany and #Occupy Nashville. We’ve heard about the horseshit left all over the place when cops finally arrested enough #Occupy Portland 99%ers to satisfy the mayor and then departed Jamison Park. We know of the meanness of police who demolished and trashed Occupations in Denver and Austin and bulldozed #Occupy Richmond, somehow finding law that permitted confiscation and destruction of the personal property of the arrested before trial verdict of innocence or guilt, and even of those not arrested nor charged with any wrong doing at all.
But have you heard about #Occupy Erie? If not, why should you care? They haven’t done anything to warrant national news. In fact, all the folks of #Occupy Erie have done is remain faithful to the few basic activist tenets of the #OWS Movement: secure a place to occupy (a gazebo in Erie City’s Perry Park), set up camp with the bare necessities for a 24/7 stay, make signs, march, hold General Assemblies (GA) do Facebook and Twitter and pass out pamphlets to educate their neighbors. They LiveStream when they can.
I dropped by #Occupy Erie Halloween night. No, I wasn’t there physically (don’t have that kind of travel budget), but I met the freezing folks there via LiveStream & Chat. They were all bundled under the gazebo in Perry Square, but still shivering against the freezing and biting wind coming off of Lake Erie, determined to endure the cruel weather of a fall more like winter.
#Occupy Erie started off with some in high places friendly to their mission: Mayor Joe Sinnott and special events and licensing coordinator for the city’s Department of Public Works Dave Rocco. Rocco made a point to drop by the tarped against the elements gazebo daily, at first, and often asked the occupiers if there was anything they needed. Inevitably, after the novelty began to wear off for the city officials, however, Mr. Rocco had to insist on some changes at the site. On October 24th, he insisted the hanging and tightly anchored weather-protective tarps must be removed from the gazebo in the day, but could be restored at night. An occupier predicted conceding to that demand would only spur additional demands by Rocco later. Mr. Rocco denied the likelihood of that, but warned them before he departed that they would be stopped if they persisted in sleeping in Perry Park overnight. When asked how the city would stop them, Rocco suggested they use their imagination to predict the answer.
So, on the night of October 25th, #Occupy Erie took their tarps down and substituted sleeping in the park with all night, eyes wide open, vigils. On why the tarps came down, according to The Erie Reader, Abby Counts said, “We’re trying to push the envelope without being crushed under the heel of authority.”
Sure enough, the occupiers proved better predictors of their future dealing with the city than Mr. Rocco, for, on the morning of November 1, 2011, #Occupy Erie posted on its website: “This Tuesday morning, Rocco turns off the electricity leaving many of us in the cold, and no access to the people or the online community that has supported us so well. We are cold but we will survive.”
Just to add depth to the portraits of the human beings populating #Occupy Erie that may be forming in the minds of those reading this report, here are some excerpts from #Occupy Erie’s Live Stream Chat:
4:27 PM occupyeriebt: im actually charging my laptop at home so by ga we can use livestream like we have been
4:37 PM sailorbrendan: hey guys
4:38 PM BlondieK: yeah…
4:38 PM BlondieK: our communications are getting to be one step up from 2 paper cups and a string….
4:39 PM BlondieK: wondering if they will have to turn those outlets back on for their christmas lights
4:40 PM occupyeriebt: rocco pulled the plug
5:38 PM KKid643: march to his office…better yet to his home
5:40 PM sailorbrendan: what we need is generators so we arent at the cities whim
5:45 PM sailorbrendan: a little time to get the ball rolling…. if they can get it to the court friday, they can probably have the tarps over the weekend
5:47 PM BlondieK: well hopefully they can get an injunction to include the generators, or they will go the way of NY’s generators..be told they are a fire hazard
5:48 PM KKid643: we are planning on coming up for the march on Friday…..my concern is Ralph and his oxygen….he needs power…he want’s to spend the night…
5:49 PM sailorbrendan: i hadnt thought of that… yeah
5:49 PM sailorbrendan: well, it makes the legal argument stronger
5:50 PM KKid643: well he will be there on Friday…..and we couldn’t keep him away….
6:10 PM gentlecrash: k. word is that we need a low-powered generator for tonight
6:10 PM gentlecrash: anyone have one ?
6:14 PM KKid643: hey check this out ….bike generators….clean cheap need only human volunteers… http://youtu.be/N25LbMwAc-o
6:16 PM gentlecrash: awesome
6:20 PM gentlecrash: cheapest smallest appears to be about $100
6:20 PM gentlecrash: http://deals.woot.com/deals/details/571c7d09-3f3c-406a-ac9c-28adf6f2e118/sportsman-1000w-2-stroke-portable-generator-w-brushless-motor-gen1000-at-the-h
6:33 PM mloutre: harbor freight store up in liberty plaza has cheap chinese-made generators
6:41 PM mloutre: cheapest one at harbor frieght is 129.99
6:45 PM mloutre: I had 20% off coupon there that expired yesterday :0(
7:03 PM BlondieK: I think someone asked if Ralph could come down an testify to his needing the outlets for supporting his oxgen….
7:04 PM sailorbrendan: alright… im spazzing a little and need to cool down for a bit. gonna take a few breaths, put on some tunes and do the mopping i am supposed to be doing. ill check back later
7:05 PM BellaMorte024: Yeah, go clean abit to get out your frustrations and its produtive lol
7:06 PM BlondieK: yeah, I tried cleaning to use up my energy over this situation…
7:06 PM BlondieK: I about broke the vacuum cleaner
7:08 PM BlondieK: Bella…how are spirits of the group down there???
7:08 PM BellaMorte024: Everyone is really frustrated… Spirits are low but it’s a hard time, we all made it very clear though we’re not giving up
7:09 PM BellaMorte024: We’ve come this far and we’re gonna go the distance
7:10 PM BlondieK: Good…VERY GOOD…setbacks are hard but should give us more resolve
7:10 PM BellaMorte024: Exactly :)
7:26 PM momcat53: I just wrote something on FB about getting people to commit to short “shifts” and rotate people in and out so no one is doing an unfair amount of freezing
11:02 PM diedre11: he pulled the power from the pavillion
11:02 PM diedre11: that is crazy he is setting up a dangerous environment for citizens by turning off lights that are always on
From website comments:
#6 lisa decarolis 2011-11-01 20:00
we now have a small generator thanks to cathy pedler!!
#5 Keith R Beal 2011-11-01 14:45
I say march on city hall…..Occupy there for a while……March on Rocco’s house…the mayor’s house as well….if they would have left us alone we would have left them alone…..we are patriots defenders of the constitution…..if they are not with us they must consider themselves part of the 1%
#3 lisa decarolis 2011-11-01 11:59
im on my way to pick up some battery operated lanterns for you guys!!
#2 Jared Schaaf 2011-11-01 11:58
I’m coming tonight to spend the night. We will not be forced out.
It is the hundreds of small and virtually anonymous outposts like #Occupy Erie that are most critical to achieving the goals of the #Occupy Wall Street Movement, so none must be allowed to fail. Though without the law enforcement violence committed against other, more famous occupations, what is gradually being done to these valiant 99%ers of #Occupy Erie by city authorities amounts to slapping their cold or frozen faces while smiling and disingenuously claiming to support the occupiers’ mission.
And the city may be winning, folks. There are no tents in Perry Square. Tarps that shielded these brave and determined human beings are useless when they cannot be used against the bitter cold of the winds coming off Lake Erie. These folks have mostly part-time jobs at minimum wage or are unemployed, like many millions of our fellow Americans, like many of us holding down the fort at Firedoglake. Most are poor, so without the resources to pay for most of what is needed to survive the Erie winter. They need stuff. This is what they need most: Coffee, sleeping bags, wool socks, tarps, heaters, tables, printer, milk crates, large totes to hold blankets and other goods out of rain and snow, hats, scarves, wool gloves, hand and foot warmers, snow shovels and salt, lots of water, chairs, cushions and snuggies!!
Right now, Santa Gozstola is out in the Midwest with his four-wheeled sleigh. Hopefully, he will find the time to make a detour to #Occupy Erie, Pennsylvania, and give those good little boys and girls a very special and desperately needed Merry Christmas. That is, if the city doesn’t manage to do what no city, to my knowledge, has yet succeeded in doing: ending once and for all the #Occupation Wall Street Movement in their streets and parks.
If #Occupy Erie falls, the forces against other small occupations will be encouraged and more surrenders will follow.