After a weekend of demonstrations and camping out, Occupy SLC is making a lot of headway as they settle into week two of their occupation of Pioneer Park. With an established base camp, daily demonstrations and many other events in the works, it appears that these rabble-rousers aren’t going anywhere soon.
The weekend was full of activities, with more daily actions and more planned for this week.
The entire camp was up at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday to clear out for the Farmers Market, as planned. “Saturday mornings are about the farmers and we thought it was important for us to not have a presence there,” said spokesperson and outreach coach William Rutledge. “We didn’t want to disrupt business because we represent them, too.” They did maintain their food, medical and outreach tents, however. Although the Occupy SLC folks did not try to push their cause on anyone who wasn’t interested, about 100 people from the Market stopped by and spoke with representatives and picked up fliers.
There were marches on both Saturday and Sunday, with about 150 people in the largest march, and 75 in the smallest. There were several “Free School” classes, including an urban-camping class on Friday, talks entitled “Take Power from the Banks” and “Capitalism: What is it?” on Saturday, and a workshop on nonviolent direct action on Sunday. A magician performed on Saturday night, which was a treat for the many children camping out. Sunday was busy for everyone, with a lot of organizational meetings as the movement slowly became more structured. “We’ve gained a lot of organization, but haven’t lost our spirit, our drive or our mission,” said Rutledge.
Strolling around base camp, I could see that things did look considerably more organized. The 90-or-so tents were now set up in neat aisles. On the outskirts of base camp, there were several circles of tents that were like the suburbs of the tent city. Occupiers were busy with various chores, preparing food, cleaning the restrooms and emptying trash cans.
A couple of volunteers sat stationed in front of the first-aid tent in case they were needed. I asked them if they had any medical experience. One of them said she has taken a 16-hour first-aid course and claims that other volunteers who are on call were even more experienced, some having received E.M.T. and army medic training. Though they haven’t yet dealt with any serious injuries, just some cuts and scrapes and a sprained ankle, the first-aid volunteers are prepared to deal with other common injuries that don’t require emergency treatment. The tent is fully stocked with gauze, bandages, hand warmers, space blankets and other necessities, most of which were donated by occupiers and supporters.
Now that they’ve established a safe and organized camp, the next step for the SLC Occupiers is to get the word out to the people who can help them meet their goals. They are holding a press conference Friday at 3 p.m., with Jimmy Kosmas—Occupy SLC organizer and the owner of Greenhouse Effect Coffee and Crepes—hosting the event. City council members, small business owners and other influential members of the community have been invited. The goal of the press conference is to clear things up for those who see the movement as incoherent.
There will be two speakers, Karen Christensen and Skylar Clark, who have both been instrumental in Occupy SLC. They will speak about the Occupy movement as a whole, as well as Salt Lake City’s role. “They are going to present what we’ve done so far, what our goals are, what we are currently working on and, ultimately, what we hope to accomplish,” says Kosmas. The Tony Wonder and Jordan Little Blues Revival Band will perform after the press conference.
In addition to the daily general demonstrations, a series of demonstrations focused on individual establishments will begin on Friday, as well. The occupiers plan to spend a week prior to each focus demonstration gathering as much information as they can on the targeted establishment so they can educate themselves and the public about why they believe these institutions have led to the degradation of society. The information will be organized into a pamphlet about each establishment. Eventually, the packets will be compiled into one big booklet that they say will encompass the whole movement.
Occupy SLC continues to hold general assemblies nightly at 7:30 p.m. To receive text notifications about marches and other Occupy events, text OccupySLC2011 to 41411.