But Occupiers are there – or, if not physically in the tents at Farmington and Broad, they’re participating in the movement for economic justice. That’s Ron Paul liberatarians, Obama Democrats, Reagan Republicans, anarchists, socialists, marxists – “dysfunctional as any other community,” said one self-described Obama Democrat.
Early Tuesday morning, police — some in riot gear — cleared out Zuccotti Park, which since mid-September has been the site of Occupy Wall Street. About 70 people were arrested. Later in the day, a judge said the sweep was legal, and that the city can ban protesters from bringing camping equipment to the park. An appeal is expected.
“Right now, as along as we continue to communicate, I don’t foresee a problem,” said the chief. “We want to respect their First Amendment rights, but we can’t let them violate health codes in the process. We cannot allow them to oppose the law in order to get a point made.”
City inspectors are a nearly daily presence at the Hartford site, said Jay Kamins, a web designer who lives in Andover. (You can see his work at occupyhartfordct.com.) Ironically, keeping the site going has been a discussion from the moment the tents were pitched in early October, organizers say. Said one, who asked that her name not be used, “For Hartford – unlike Wall Street – the site itself is a subject of internal disagreement.” Organizers will discuss whether to continue the camp along with other issues at a meeting on Saturday, she said.
“We’re starting to see a time when transition is upon us,” said Kamins. “I think certainly the weather is making it clear that we have to prepare for a long stay, or are we ready to leave the camp behind. Have we established enough contacts?”
To strengthen those contacts, OH is hosting a community meeting with representatives from neighborhood and non-profit organizations, as well as grassroots activists at 7 p.m. Thursday at West Indian Social Club in Hartford.
Johnny E. Williams, associate professor of sociology at Trinity College, said New York’s moving the occupiers was a mistake.
“We don’t want to be put out of that park, ” said Williams, whose academic interests include social movements like Occupy. “But the movement is not about the space any more.” He said he thought New York police and city administrators made “a tremendous mistake. The movement is in people’s minds. Zuccotti Park was a symbolic location, but they’ve made the movement bigger than it is.”
“I’d like to thank Mayor Bloomberg for kicking off a new round of recruiting to Occupy Wall Street,” said Kamins.
Regardless, onsite Occupiers continue to observe Hartford’s rules such as no open flames. “We’re abiding by what they were concerned about,” said Williams. “They come back and check, and that’s fine as long as they don’t violate our First Amendment rights.”
Meanwhile, Hartford’s Occupiers have participated in several protests, including one against Bank of America earlier this month. They’re planning another protest against CL&P at 2 p.m. Nov. 19 at 56 Prospect Street in Hartford, for that company’s slow recovery after a freak October storm turned out the lights for most of the state.
“We’re learning as we go how to do this thing,” said Kamins. Meanwhile, General Assemblies – or organizational meetings — are held every three days rather than twice a day.
“We’re looking for other worthy causes to attach ourselves to,” said Kamins. “I think the criteria is always going to be will it affect Hartford and Connecticut and will it be an appropriate action consistent with how we account our internal values and objectives in dealing with corporate greed and mismanagement.
Wes Strong, who has been involved from the beginning, said the natural progression of the movement might be to focus on foreclosures. From RealtyTrac, the most recent figures say Connecticut had one foreclosure filing for every 1,127 households. Issues like that override the importance of a grouping of tents on public property, Strong said.