While I agree with fellow Occupy Salt Laker Jesse Fruhwirth [“Right of Way,” Nov. 24, City Weekly] that the way city officials revoked the Pioneer Park encampment’s permit was suspect, hastily done, perhaps illegal and executed without proper regard to campers and their property, I think he exaggerates the effect it will have on the movement.
Fruhwirth claims, “The only egalitarian community I’ve ever known was destroyed.” While it may be a romantic Boy Scout notion that people sleep together in tents to best bond and establish community, Occupy still lives and is meeting regularly according to the same principles used at Pioneer Park. Fruhwirth is still an active participant in that community.
His piece glossed over the downsides of having opened up the camp to the severely addicted, the alcoholics and the non-institutionalized mentally ill, and in having “looked the other way” despite a previously agreed-upon no-drugs policy.
I chose to not camp because the park location did not make a statement against the corruption of the political process by big money in the way the Wall Street camp did in the shadows of the financial institutions that tanked the economy and then got “rewarded” for doing it with a bailout.
While I commend those who got arrested rather than watch complacently as their tents were demolished, I hope Occupy’s next move is not to attempt to return to the “drug park” or beg for a permit for another public space.
Occupy movements elsewhere are finding novel ways to directly protest the corrupt financial industry. The most effective I’ve seen is to occupy the yards of families who are under the threat of eviction despite their best efforts to renegotiate their mortgages and who may even be participating in federal programs to restructure their loans when inept and unethical bank loan departments proceed with foreclosure anyway.
Salt Lake City
Editor’s Note: Jim Catano is an occasional City Weekly contributor.