Release: OccupyMissoula Response to Missoula County Board of Commissioner’s Proposed Resolution

Dear Missoula County Board of Commissioners:

We write this letter to address the implications of Resolution No. 2012-__ “Prohibiting Camping and Structures on County Property Without a Permit,” proposed by the Missoula County Board of Commissioners (the said Resolution may be read in full at www.OccupyMissoula.com).

We understand the ramifications of this resolution to reach far beyond the current political moment of Occupy Missoula’s encampment on the courthouse lawn. While serving as a public sounding board for citizen dissatisfaction with our current political/economic conundrum, Occupy Missoula’s presence on the Courthouse lawn has also illuminated the symptoms of a society that does not take care of its most vulnerable: its veterans, its elderly, its mentally ill, its substance-addicted, and its houseless. While we recognize and value Missoula’s efforts to address this situation (as detailed in a letter from the County Commissioners on Dec. 16th), the resources of these largely non-profit efforts are already strained.

With home foreclosures still on the rise, Missoula’s increasing houseless population will find themselves at the sharp end of this resolution by virtue of their circumstance, which in effect would be criminalized. Sleeping, not just camping, in said areas becomes cause for a citation, thereby compounding a situation which is already intolerable. “Camping,” as broadly defined by this proposed ordinance, would incriminate not only those without houses, but many working poor, who often sleep in their vehicles in pursuit of temporary employment, as well as other populations, such as travelers passing through who could be cited with criminal trespass for pulling an RV off the road in Missoula county.

In fact, many public spaces that Missoulians take for granted would fall under it’s broad definitions, as county properties include: Missoula County Fairgrounds, portions of Fort Missoula, and the Commons of the County Courthouse Lawn.

Whereas hypothetical expenditures of public funds to mitigate the health hazards of camping on said properties are cited, very real and actual expenditures of public funds will be required to administer and enforce the proposed resolution.

Occupy Missoula’s encampment on the Courthouse lawn has, for nearly 3 months, vigilantly asserted a citizen’s right to peaceably assemble and our freedom of speech by demonstrating and promoting the peace and well-being of all who gather there. The proposed resolution is one more swipe in eroding public access to the commons. The common basis of freedom of speech and right to assembly, universal across the political spectrum, would be further truncated by this resolution.

OM strongly encourages the Commissioners and the general public as a whole to carefully consider the far-reaching consequences of the county’s proposed ordinance. It is vital that the public attend the upcoming public hearing on this matter, Wednesday, January 4th at 1:30PM in Room 201 of the Courthouse Annex.

Respectfully,

Occupy Missoula

Missoula County Commissioner’s Statement on OccupyMissoula 12.22.2011

The County Commissioners will be reading the statement below at their 1:30 meeting today in Room 201 of the Missoula County Courthouse Annex.

Please feel free to contact the Commissioners’ Office with questions.

Commissioners’ Statement Regarding Occupy Missoula
12/21/11

We have directed County staff to communicate with Occupy Missoula about their encampment since its inception in October. We have increased the frequency of our correspondence with them in the last two weeks in an effort to encourage them to remove their tents from the Courthouse lawn. Despite attempts from both our staff and many of the Occupiers to engage in constructive communication, the tents remain, as do the problems the tents present. As a result of Occupy Missoula’s unwillingness to help Missoula County solve the problems their camp presents, we are developing a policy that will prohibit camping on County property. The City of Missoula’s No Camping Ordinance does not apply to the Courthouse lawn. The County policy and the resulting ordinance are still being developed, but would require any group using the Courthouse lawn to secure a special use permit. Please do not mistake this policy as a means to limit free speech. Protests and demonstrations are still welcome on the Courthouse lawn, but sponsors of demonstrations that encourage prolonged use of the public space – a space we are charged with managing – must offer assurances that activities on County property will not jeopardize the health, welfare, and safety of the general public, or restrict the public’s rightful use of a public space.

We have removed the port-a-potty we have been providing from the Courthouse lawn in an effort to encourage the removal of their tents. We cannot continue to subsidize the Occupy camp with tax payer dollars. The port-a-potty was provided as a means to reduce instances of unsanitary conduct and protect the public and our staff from pathogens. We will continue to protect the public and our staff, but can no longer provide a facility to the camp that is funded with tax payer money.

As an interim measure, before the County ordinance is passed, we have directed County staff to identify unoccupied tents on the lawn as abandoned property and remove them.

We have received numerous calls and emails from constituents complaining about the camp for months. We have made every effort to acknowledge the concerns of those constituents while protecting Occupy Missoula’s right to free speech. We ask that Occupy Missoula acknowledge that they have a responsibility to conduct their protest in a way that is accountable to the Missoula community.

The unprovoked pepper-spray attack on peaceful protester at UC Davis

Scoville ratings: 500,000 – 2,000,000 – Most Law enforcement grade pepper spray
More About Pepper Spray.

The unprovoked pepper-spray attack on peaceful protester at UC Davis by Lt. Pike has now gone viral, being picked up even by the major news outlets that have so far offered cavalier and tepid coverage to the Occupy movement. Accordingly, the official police “spin” of the unprovoked pepper-spraying has begun. Charles J. Kelly, a former Baltimore Police Department lieutenant who wrote the department’s use of force guidelines, said pepper spray is a “compliance tool” that can be used on subjects who do not resist, and is preferable to simply lifting protesters. “When you start picking up human bodies, you risk hurting them,” Kelly said. “Bodies don’t have handles on them.” (How considerate of him to prefer chemical warfare as against traditional police work.) After reviewing the video, Kelly said he observed at least two cases of “active resistance” from protesters. In one instance, a woman pulls her arm back from an officer. In the second instance, a protester curls into a ball.

Each of those actions could have warranted more force, including baton strikes and pressure-point techniques. “What I’m looking at is fairly standard police procedure,” Kelly said. UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza said the decision to use pepper spray was made at the scene. “The students had encircled the officers,” she said Saturday. “They needed to exit. They were looking to leave but were unable to get out.” A similar statement suggested that the Officers were “cut off” from their “support.” The above statements are the Lies of a Gestapo Police State attempting to cover its collective ass.
Continue reading

Occupation Workgroup Meeting 11am Sat, Courthouse Lawn & BIG TENT Raising!

Howdy fellow Occupiers. The Occupation Workgroup has called for a meeting on the Courthouse lawn at 11am, Saturday. This meeting will discuss the ongoing efforts to winterize our Occupation and provide a way for those who haven’t been onsite in a while to plug back into the onsite encampment.

We are engaging in a concerted 3 week effort to dig in and plan for the winter. We need all of OccupyMissoula to commit to helping the Occupation succeed, and to do so we are asking for you to not just retreat into your winter comfy zone, if you have one, but to commit to spending time at the Occupation on a regular basis, and to help focus OM on our encampment and what it brings to our movement.

As a result of fundraising efforts earlier this week to winterize the Occupation, we have purchased a 16×32′ military grade tent! We will put it up tomorrow, so any help is greatly appreciated! Many thanks to Taryn for spearheading this effort, and everybody else who donated and helped out. We also have a porta potty onsite, thanks to Missoula County. How exactly that came about, I’m not exactly sure, but it is welcome. Continue reading

OccupyButte gets County Commissioners to Pass Social Program Resolution

From OccupyButte: On a 7 to 4 vote the Resolution created by Occupy Butte was passed by the County Council of Commissioners last night.

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Butte-Silver Bow County Council of Commissioners Resolution in Support of Social Programs of Economic Importance to its Citizens (Proposal of Occupy Butte to Judiciary Committee November 9, 2011)

A RESOLUTION URGING THE U.S. CONGRESSMEN REPRESENTING MONTANA VOTE TO DEFEAT ANY REDUCTION OF SOCIAL SECURITY INCOMES AND MEDICARE AND MEDICAID BENEFITS OF CITIZENS OF BUTTE-SILVER BOW COUNTY, AND PROVIDING SUPPORT OF THE EFFORTS OF CITIZEN ADVOCACY FOR REJECTION OF SUCH CUTS. Continue reading

Occupy Missoula Camp Peacefully Leaves, Missoulian article

http://missoulian.com/news/local/occupy-missoula-peacefully-breaks-camp-after-monthlong-protest/article_9d8d7d82-0f29-11e1-8295-001cc4c03286.html

Most of the Occupy Missoula campers struck their tents Monday morning after more than a month on the Missoula County Courthouse lawn.

“The word came down last night,” camper Kathlene Kelly said as she helped pile gear in the morning snowfall. “We broke down the tents for Veterans Day in honor of what they’re doing here. A great many of our members are veterans.

“Then last night, a representative from the county came to the encampment and told folks if we were still here by morning, we could expect a visit from the sheriff.”

The campers said they negotiated a brief extension until Monday morning so they could pack up their gear in daylight. They also believed they got permission to keep an information post in the courthouse gazebo. Continue reading