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

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.


Occupy Missoula

Missoula County Commissioners to Hold Public Meeting Regarding Proposed Resolution Related to County Property

December 29, 2011
CONTACT: Dale Bickell
Chief Administrative Officer, Missoula County
Phone: 258-4229,


Missoula County Commissioners will hold a public meeting on
Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 in room 201 of the Missoula County
Courthouse Annex at 1:30 p.m. The meeting will provide the public an
opportunity to comment on a proposed resolution that would prohibit
camping and structures on County property. The proposed resolution is
available on the County’s website.

Interested members of the public are encouraged to attend. Citizens can
also submit comments on the proposed resolution by calling or emailing
the Commissioners’ Office – 258-4877 or

Text of Resolution after the jump. Continue reading

Press Release from the Occupy Missoula Encampment Working Group

Happy holidays to everyone from the Occupy Missoula Encampment Working Group!
We’re pleased to stand in solidarity with Missoula Cultural Council in regards to the up- coming First Night Event. We look forward to an evening of holiday cheer, outreach and education for our fellow citizens about local and national issues. We also encourage all artists and like-minded citizens to join us by contributing art to this First Night Event. We’re also planning a public discussion concerning the Missoula County Commission- ers’ rejection of multiple invitations to join us in our meetings with the Missoula Cultural Council Wednesday the 21st.

The Occupy Missoula Encampment retains a positive outlook despite the removal by county workers of a disabled homeless veteran’s tent at 5:30am on the 21st, under the pretext that it was “abandoned property,” as well as the calculated removal of the porta- potty the same afternoon, in order to create a public health issue. The Commissioners also saw fit to request that porta-potty providers not “get involved,” and our attempts to secure another porta-potty have been unsuccessful for that reason.

We continue to remain hopeful, despite today’s actions by the Sherrif, once again at- tempting to confiscate a disabled veteran’s tent under the premise of its being aban- doned. We would like to remind the Commissioners that the tents are a form of Political Protest, protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United Staes of America.

In the holiday spirit of goodwill and peace, we are asking the County Comminssioners to let us enjoy Christmas without engaging the police, without threats of arrest before we have a public forum next week.

press release_OME

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

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.

Occupied Media: Interviews With Boots Riley & Alexa D. O’Brien

From OccupiedMedia and OccupyMissoula’s Taryn Hart:

In what is our highest-profile interview to date, I’m thrilled to present Occupied Media’s interview with Occupy Oakland’s Boots Riley. Of all of the interviews I’ve done, this was the first one where I was nervous (maybe also my very first interview Jeff Madrick). As you’ll see in the interview, Boots is charismatic, endlessly interesting and the camera absolutely loves him. More importantly, his vision for social change and for the Occupy movement is both clear and compelling.

Boots is probably best known as a talented musician and lyricist. He is the front man of Oakland’s The Coup and, more recently, he has collaborated with guitarist and activist Tom Morello to form The Street Sweeper Social Club.

Among other matters, Boots and I discuss his history as an organizer (which extends to his youth), how he got “sucked in” (his words) to Occupy Oakland, his vision for social change and the Occupy Movement and his message to progressives and/or radicals critical of Occupy. I have no doubt everyone will find Boots Riley as compelling and thought provoking as we do.

Our next Occupied Media interview is with citizen activist Alexa D. O’Brien. Alexa foundedUS Day of Rage, which was directly involved with organizing and promoting the occupation of Wall Street on September 17, 2011. Alexa continues to be involved with Occupy Wall Street and with US Day of Rage’s call for an Article V Constitutional Convention. I’ve now interviewed several high-profile economists and journalist, but I really love the interviews with fellow occupiers. So, I hope everyone enjoys the interview as much as I did and please check out the very important work going on at US Day of Rage.

Occupied Media: Interviews With Jared Bernstein & William K. Black

From OccupiedMedia and OccupyMissoula’s Taryn Hart:

I’m thrilled to present Occupied Media’s interview with economist Jared Bernstein. Dr. Bernstein has fought the good fight for his entire career. For many years he worked with EPI’s Larry Mishel on State of Working America, which documented the rise in inequality and decimation of the American middle class. He then joined the Obama Administration as Vice President Biden’s Chief Economist. He is now with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and he maintains a blog, On the Economy, which I love both because he presents economic issues in such understandable terms and because you get a glimpse into his personality (tune in for his music selections on Friday, for example).

Dr. Bernstein is incredibly busy – he made time for this interview at 10:00 PM after a 12-hour plus day. He not only took time to meet with us, he also connected us with Larry Mishel of EPI, who has been an amazing resource and advocate. Our deepest thanks for Dr. Bernstein for this interview, for his assistance and, most importantly, for a career dedicated to scholarship and advocacy on behalf of the 99%.

He was remarkably forthcoming and, unlike many economists, was willing to talk outside of the box. His bottom line diagnosis (or maybe it’s still just a concern): We are a system that can no longer self-correct; and a system that cannot self-correct, cannot survive.

The next interview is with esteemed law professor Bill Black who has been a tireless advocate for reform of the financial system and prosecution of the fraudsters that brought our economy to its knees. The title of his book really says it all: The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One.

Professor Black is an Associate Professor of Economics and Law at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, a white-collar criminologist and a former financial regulator. He blogs at New Economic Perspectives and tweets at @WilliamKBlack. Professor Black has been an advocate of the Occupy Wall Street Movement and he has been remarkably generous with his time.