After 2 hours of testimony, mostly pro-Occupy, the Missoula County Commissioners passed their no camping resolution. OccupyMissoula applied for a permit, and was denied. Here are the responses of a few individuals and the County:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: TODD JORDAN, CASEY LOUIS, KIM BOSTROM
note: this press release represents the views of occupy missoula participants but does not seek to speak for the entire Occupy missoula movement.
OM Right to Peaceably Assemble and Seek Redress of Grievances
January 5, 2012. On January 4th the Missoula County Commissioners held a meeting to hear public comment on a proposed resolution to require permits for camping on county property. More than thirty people, representing a broad range of the community, came to the hearing to make public comment. In over two hours of commentary, an overwhelming majority presented evidence and testimony to show the lack of any real need for this resolution, and to state that it is in opposition to both United States and Montana constitutional law. Many of those who gave testimony raised concerns that the resolution was a knee-jerk reaction in an historic political moment, enacting a law that affects the entire county while addressing none of the underlying problems. The only consideration appears to have been their desire to remove the Occupy Missoula tents from the court house lawn and possibly the prevention of their return in the spring. With no significant proof to their stated concerns of costs, health and safety, and public nuisance to support the immediate necessity for this resolution to be enacted, the county commission, without deliberation in regards to the public comment, passed the resolution.
Two important facts not taken into account by the county commissioners are: 1) that Occupy Missoula is peaceably assembled on the courthouse lawn, exercising constitutional rights, and 2) the encampment is working to save the city and county tax payers money through promoting the peace and providing human services to those in need. In addition, tax expenditures for costly public meetings likely could be avoided through local officials’ democratic participation in a General Assembly.
Many of those who spoke at the meeting described positive solutions to address the existing sanitation issues of the downtown area, as well as the issues of homelessness that exist within Missoula county. The county commissioners did appear to take interest in ideas and suggestions for solutions to the very real problem of the lack of available public bathroom facilities downtown. We hope that they will consider these suggestions, and not think that by passing this resolution the public need for accessible restrooms will go away.
On the other hand, with this arbitrary action they violated their oath of office, which requires them to improve the quality of life for those individuals in the county, by not providing basic necessities that protect those individuals. Following in the wake of the land development approval for lands north of Lolo, this is the second action in a month the county commissioners have passed in clear opposition of the public commentary that was presented to the commissioners and the media. This presents distressing evidence that the county is working autonomously from the people it represents, and the public commentary that they request is a mere formality rather than a true request for public input.
We encourage all individuals and organizations to join in solving the real problems which the average citizen is facing and demand that our government follow their constitutional requirements to all of its citizens. We are committed to reaching out to the rest of our community, expanding our movement so that the real problems of our society, including for those who are being ignored by the Missoula county commissioners in passing this resolution, are truly addressed. While not seeking to represent Occupy Missoula as a whole, the OM protesters peaceably assembled on the courthouse lawn practicing free speech and seeking redress of grievances from our larger government will disobey this unjust resolution.
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Missoula County Response: Permit Application Response