Occupy Baltimore has received an ironically named “permission document” from the city. It seeks to end our occupy presence by essentially prohibiting tents and overnight camping, and by squeezing all our functions into a little seen corner of the park.
To show our true numbers, Occupy Baltimore urgently calls on all of our supporters to join us on Wednesday, October 26, 2011 in McKeldin Square at Pratt and Light Streets! Wednesday is the deadline the city gives us for complying with requirements that would essentially end our movement! Join us to send a message that clearing McKeldin will not make us go away!
Rather than recognizing that the protesters of Occupy Baltimore are “we, the people,” and joining us in support of our action to create a Baltimore where all voices are heard, the city has opted to remove us from view.
To quote the city’s document, “No overnight tents and no overnight camping will be allowed except for one tent with up to two individuals…who may remain overnight to watch over the site and any property…All others must leave McKeldin square area by midnight, the time that the area is closed to visitors”
In reference to a reduced area, it states, “Occupy Baltimore has been given a map detailing the footprint perimeter of their occupied area, the area where any tents or signs or any set ups may be placed.”
Reporting back from a small discussion group at Tuesday night’s General Assembly, Occupy member Michael Hanes quipped, “We consensed that they have given us a map…”
The city’s document offers Occupy Baltimore ” 10 (ten) pop-up tent shelter facilities (at no cost)” presumably to replace the very colorful array of tents that are now visible from downtown streets. I heard one small group discussion member retort, “I’m all for the city giving us stuff for free, but I’m not for taking down tents!”
My partner, Food Not Bombs co-founder and consensus trainer C.T. Butler did a call and response with the Monday night General Assembly, “Do we have a permit to be here?” (“No.”) “Are we here?” (“Yes!”) “Do we need a permit to be here?” (“No!”)
So Join us all day Wednesday, October 26, 2011 in McKeldin Square. Stay as long as you can; We have food! BRING MORE TO SHARE! Stay overnight if you can. But JOIN US JOIN US JOIN US!
Baltimore does not have to push back against Occupy. In Albany, New York, city and state police defied their mayor and governor and refused to arrest 700 Occupy protesters.
In my hometown, Louisville, Kentucky, the city has given that Occupy encampment a permit through the end of the year.
JOIN US IN SHOWING THAT OCCUPY IS GROWING. JOIN US TO SAY WE WON’T GO AWAY!
Why does Wednesday matter? Last night after the General Assembly, a woman came through the square with her family—children, and grandchildren in strollers. She was not obstructed in her ability to move through the space in any way. “I love you all!!!” she shouted. She immediately got love back and an invitation to join us. She turned to me and said, “I can’t. I work three jobs. I just got turned down for disability again. I’m hanging in but I just can’t get down here!”
I was reminded then that these early stages of Occupy are about the people with privilege who can come down, representing and making the safe space for all.
C.T. and I have been managing to attend about every other day. We don’t stay overnight, but we plug in and we represent.
Who can you represent on Wednesday?
Below is, I believe, Occupy Baltimore’s official press release that went out this morning:
For Immediate Release
CITY SETS DEADLINE FOR OCCUPY BALTIMORE DISPERSAL
Occupy Baltimore has been peacefully gathering in McKeldin Square on
the corner of Pratt & Light Streets since October 4th, 2011.
The City of Baltimore Parks & Recreation Dept has refused their
request for a permit to legally occupy this space, and has responded
to their permit request with a set of unreasonable demands – including
a limit of 2 people overnight, and limiting the group to a small area
in the corner of the park. Furthermore, they have given the group an
eviction deadline of Wednesday Oct 26th to be in compliance with these
demands, which would essentially end their movement.
In the past three weeks, Occupy Baltimore has begun a directly
democratic dialogue, and considering their peaceful and respectful
assembly, the group requests that the city allow them to maintain this
peaceful democratic space, as city government counterparts in
Philadelphia and Washington DC have.
The city suggests that the demonstrators agree in good faith to
maintain only one overnight tent with just two people. Occupy
Baltimore counters that anyone who wants to stay in their space is
allowed a safe place to stay, out of the elements and with enough food
to eat. Furthermore, Occupy Baltimore has a complex infrastructure
already, with media, food, direct action, outreach, security, and
other working groups, which couldn’t possibly be contained within two
The city also suggests that the demonstrators agree in good faith to
limit their presence to within a small amount of space within McKeldin
Square, reducing the demonstration to a fraction of its original size,
and placing it in an obscure corner of the park. Demonstrators counter
that they would like to create a vibrant safe space that takes up as
much of the square as possible so that they can continue to grow an
organic infrastructure of democratic representation, arts, culture,
and safe space while still allowing passerby to pass through McKeldin
Occupy Baltimore recognizes that their requests are out of the box for
the city’s existing permit system, but encourages the city to work
alongside peaceful and respectful demonstrators to create a legal
space where citizens’ voices can be heard. Organizers add that
accepting the city’s demands would essentially end their occupation
The city has given demonstrators an ultimatum to accede to their
request by Wednesday the 26th.