Occupy Humboldt Matures, Projects Protest To Community – October 11, 2011
Kevin L. Hoover
ARCATA – The Occupy Wall Street protest that ignited sympathetic demonstrations across the nation last week found enthusiastic participation in Arcata, where subverting the dominant paradigm is a near-daily topic of conversation.
Protesters making camp in Humboldt State University’s Quad evolved and extended their protest to include the streets of Arcata and beyond. Friday afternoon, a banner-waving group marched to the Plaza and then past various downtown banks demanding an end to the cozy relationship between Wall Street and government.
Sunday, some of the Occupy Humboldt protesters traveled to Eureka to participate in an Occupy Eureka protest outside the County Courthouse.
The Occupy Humboldt camp on the HSU Quad includes several tents, each with a purpose – a library, info center, first aid station and sleeping quarters. Signs posted about caution against drug and alcohol use and list nonviolence and mutual respect as essential.
Participant Carolynn Williams said the group had established both good internal communications and relations with the campus community.
Students have been interacting with the protesters, and the group held a skills sharing workshop and even a running group. She said community members had been generous with support, particularly food donations.
Co-organizer Travis Turner said the group could use a better webcam, and it is now streaming live at livestream.com/occupyhumboldt. He said the hot meals are appreciated. The group also hopes to raise funds to dispatch local emissaries to the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York that started it all.
The Quad camp’s sustainability is a big question, as the university doesn’t allow sleeping on campus. But sleeping, Turner said, was a key symbolic element of the protest, harkening back to Depression-era tent cities.
“We’re going to try to stay here until it’s time to go home,” Turner said. When that would be, he wasn’t sure. “It’s a slow process,” he said. “We’re reclaiming the system.”
HSU Police Chief Lynne Soderberg said UPD has been in communication with the protesters to try to work out conflicts. “We have a good dialogue with them,” she said.
“They have a right to their free speech and assembly, but not to do what someone else can’t do,” Soderberg said. “We need to be able to enforce it equally.”
Sanitation, she said, has not been an issue as the Quad area is surrounded by nearby restrooms.
Soderberg said the group had agreed to dismantle their camp Sunday night, but that was not to be. Sunday night, the group’s General Assembly voted to remain in place on the campus for the time being.
An Occupy Arcata group has been slower to organize, but its Facebook page indicates an interest in setting up a protest camp on the Plaza sometime soon.