Occupy Christmas

International Day of Action – December 25

Occupy Louisville – January 2 Eviction

Posted by troublemaker on December 25, 2011

You don’t hear much about Occupy Louisville because from the beginning Occupy Louisville has played by the rules. Not only did they maintain a relationship with Chief of Police White, they secured necessary permits for their encampment, have worked to keep the site clean and safe, and have been respectful of city officials while attending the Louisville Metro Council meetings.

“It has acquired permits for the encampment, and has been open to meetings with metro works, built a relationship with former LMPD Chief White and even followed the rules when visiting Louisville Metro Council.” – Pam Jean of Louisville.com (1)

Permits in hand, Occupy Louisville has accomplished much more with their encampment than you’ve probably heard. With a full functioning kitchen, staffed first aid center, security tent, and media resource tent; Occupy Louisville has not only become its own community, it has become a valuable resource for the larger community. The Coalition for the Homeless has recently commented Occupy Louisville for providing for the area homeless (2). Seven Counties Services, which is in part funded by the Common Wealth, has visited the encampment and added to the praise provided by the Coalition for the Homeless.

Despite Occupy Louisville’s repeatedly demonstrated willingness to play by the rules, change has come to Louisville, KY and it seems the encampment might not be part of that city’s future. The rules and those who enforce them have changed. Chief White, who nurtured a relationship with Occupy Louisville, has left the Louisville Police Department (see Occupy Denver – We like snacks). Shortly thereafter, the city of Louisville informed protesters that although their permit will be renewed that permit will not allow tents, camping, or any of the other features of an encampment. When the permit allowing the encampment expires on January 1, 2012 Occupy Louisville may well be evicted.

“After meeting with city officials this past Friday, protesters were politely informed that their permit for Founders Square is getting renewed for 2012, but without any sort of structure to keep them warm at night. No reason was given for the city’s sudden change of heart”. – Pam Jean of Louisville.com (3)

Considering the language of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, we should be offended that any municipality would require a permit to peacefully assemble on public property. After all, the First Amendment makes it perfectly clear that such is the right of the people. If a person has a right to do something, permission is not needed. Camping might be another story and that is where the idea of permission (a permit) comes in.  Occupy Louisville recognized that, worked within the rules, and continues to try to work within those rules.

You see things like permits exist to request the right to do something above and beyond what is already guaranteed.  They exist to allow an activity which is not ordinarily allowed.  So when the city of Louisville says it will renew the permit for Occupy Louisville to continue the protest only without tents, what they are really saying is they will not be renewing their permit.

Previously, Occupy Louisville was allowed to set up tents in the city park.  That permit expires on January 1, 2012.  While the city claims it will renew the permit, it plans to specifically forbid tents and camping.  Protesters will be allowed to stay in the park 24 hours a day / 7 days a week but not allowed to take shelter from the cold, curl up in a sleeping bag, or take other steps to make a 24 hour protest possible.

“…protesters will be allowed to stay in the park 24 hours a day, seven days a week as long as no overnight camping takes place.” – Courier Journal (4)

Some Occupy encampments have gone the route of ignoring the permit process, ignoring the rules, and taking over areas for their encampments. Others have gone the route of playing by the rules and working with municipal governments. Evictions of encampments who did not obtain permits have shown us that many municipalities will not tolerate groups who do not secure proper permits.

The message being sent by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer seems to be that encampments willing to work with municipalities will no longer be tolerated either.

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  1. Louisville.com – Occupy Louisville facing potential eviction.  
  2. Louisville Homeless
  3. Louisville.com – Occupy Louisville prepares for eviction.
  4. Courier Journal on permit change.

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