New York, Delaware Occupiers Join Barricades

Top downtown cop Lt. Rebecca Sweeney arrived at Occupy New Haven at a noon deadline to vacate the premises—and received thank-you hugs from occupiers Don Montano and Broderick “Moose” Lee.

Thomas MacMillan Photo Meanwhile, a $5 Megabus ticket brought Jose Wiley from Occupy Boston to New Haven’s Green Wednesday for a donated bowl of oatmeal—and an anticipated showdown with police. New Haven lawyers cooled their heels after making arguments in federal court in Bridgeport over a last-ditch effort to resist an order to leave.

Wiley was among the scattered out-of-town anti-corporate protesters who arrived here for what some believe may the be the last day of New England’s longest-lasting “Occupy” encampment.

City officials have given members of Occupy New Haven until noon Wednesday to remove their tents and leave the encampment they started on Oct. 15.

Over the past day cops and Columbus House staffer Kenny Driffin (pictured in vest Wednesday morning) have helped homeless people, who ended up comprising a large part of the nightly camping contingent, to vacate the Green, without incident.

Driffin reported that all the tents beyond the new central compound were coming down as most of the homeless headed for shelters or other parks.

One homeless man, who gave his name as “Kentucky,” said he would find another park to sleep in.

Another homeless occupier, Mike Dirienzo, said he was going to stick it out on the Green to see what would happen with a last-minute federal court hearing.

Other protesters and Occupy leaders have fortified and centralized their compound for an expected confrontation with the cops Wednesday, depending on the outcome of a last-ditch attempt to postpone the city’s order in the hearing in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport on a possible injunction. (Click here to read about that.) They ringed the compound with political messages.

Lt. Sweeney stopped by “to say hi” along with downtown beat cops Matt Wynne and Thomas Benedetto

Suarez read aloud this text from attorney Norm Pattis at 11:30: “Judge will rule soon. Looks good for a two-week reprieve.”

Pattis said by phone that if U.S. District Court Judge Janet Hall grants the reprieve, the case will return to U.S. District Judge Mark Kravitz’s courtroom; Kravitz hadn’t been available Wednesday morning to hear the emergency request for a temporary restraining order.

The mood was festive on the Green in the anticipated final hours Wednesday morning, as occupiers who have lasted the entire five months here mingled with reinforcements like “Phil P.” (at right in photo) up from Occupy Delaware. Four people from Occupy New York were on hand. A van arrived overnight with six Occupy Delaware members and one Occupy Philadelphia member.

Thomas MacMillan Photo The word went out on Twitter Tuesday evening: Occupy Wall Street is headed north to stand with the last remaining encampment in New England.

Todd Sanders, a founding member of Occupy New Haven, Tuesday evening brought news of assistance on the way from Occupy Wall Street itself.

He said Occupy Wall Street responded to a tweet from Occupy New Haven calling for support on the eve of a high-noon Wednesday official deadline for demonstrators to leave their five-month-old encampment.

“@OccupyNewHaven needs your help! We need all able bodied followers and occupies to lend a hand to our NONVIOLENT resistance of eviction!” the tweet read.

Occupy New Haven is looking forced removal in the face. The city informed the protest encampment on Monday that it has until Wednesday at noon to leave the upper Green, where it’s been installed since Oct. 15. It is the last remaining Occupy Wall Street camp in the Northeast.

In response to New Haven’s call, Occupy Wall Street tweeted: “URGENT - Join the #OWS group headed 2 support @OccupyNewHaven face threatened eviction 2morrow! Meet 9pm at @TheYippieCafe, reply 4 details”

And later: “For #OWS’ers headed to @OccupyNewHaven for eviction defense: transportation costs covered if you need it. Meet at Yippie, 9 Bleecker St, 9pm”

Sanders, who was collecting money to help cover train tickets for the visitors, said he didn’t know how many Occupy Wall Street members would be coming up to support Occupy New Haven.

Occupy New Haven has also created a Facebook event calling for people to “Defend Occupy New Haven AGAINST EVICTION.”

Occupy New Haven welcomed another visitor Tuesday evening. Attorney Norm Pattis (pictured) stopped by to answer questions about the possibility of imminent police action and an injunction he filed Tuesday to try to stop it.

He encouraged campers to make a conscious choice whether they are going to resist or comply, and if they choose to resist, to do so non-violently.

He said he wanted to simply encourage occupiers to stay “cool, calm, and collected.”

“People are very apprehensive,” he said, after speaking to a group of about 20 occupiers. “They’re scared.”

“We’ve got an uphill fight tomorrow,” he said about his 10 a.m. Wednesday hearing in front of federal Judge Janet Hall in Bridgeport. He said his task is to convince the court that the Occupy encampment constitutes a form of speech that’s protected by the First Amendment.  “This is political expression,” he said, gesturing at the tents.

Drew Days, law school professor and head of the Proprietors of the Green, disagrees with that interpretation. He said he believes the Supreme Court has made clear that sleeping in tents in parks without a permit is not a protected exercise of free speech; he cites the 1982 case Clark v. Community for Creative Nonviolence.

At any rate, the Green was a canvas Tuesday for a form of artistic expression. As other occupier set about fortifying a newly consolidated central compound, Matthew Osborne quietly continued working on an art installation he’s calling “Unknown Artist, Unjuried Show.”

He wrapped a coaxial cable around a tree and carefully arranged scraps of paper and other found objects.

Osborne said he doesn’t intend to stay and be arrested. He did say he’s leaving his artwork behind.

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posted by: Nath on March 14, 2012  7:17am

Interesting! Walking through the green almost every day, I don’t recall having seen that many people around the camp in January and February!  Ah! New Haven Spring!

posted by: HhE on March 14, 2012  7:22am

For “As other occupier set about fortifying a newly consolidated central compound, Matthew Osborne quietly continued working on an art installation he’s calling “Unknown Artist, Unjuried Show.”

He wrapped a coaxial cable around a tree and carefully arranged scraps of paper and other found objects.

Osborne said he doesn’t intend to stay and be arrested. He did say he’s leaving his artwork behind.” read “Leave trash on The Green for other people to pick up.”

In the last month or two, ONH has lost so much of their ground and point.  At one time, they had helped shift the national and local dialog. Now they are effectively shifting it back.  Time to go.

posted by: William Kurtz on March 14, 2012  7:36am

Like many people, I am broadly sympathetic to the Occupy movement and its efforts to call attention to many of the systemic economic problems in the western world, even while I don’t agree with some of their specific methods and suggestions. But there’s value in getting people talking, and they have certainly started a conversation, although that conversation unfortunately centers more on the nature of their activity, or inactivity, than their specific goals, which seem only to have been articulated in the past week by those who have been identified several times as ‘non-camping’ members of the group, who mainly occupy the space in front of the TV cameras.

For what it’s worth, here’s a modest proposal for the future of the Occupy movement in New Haven: allow the group one ‘permanent’ structure on the Green, with a limited footprint. A booth, information kiosk, tent, or something similar that can be ‘occupied’ 24 hours a day–similar to those anti-nuclear protestors outside the White House. This would maintain the symbolic presence, avoid the need for the PR nightmare of a forcible eviction, and reinforce the city’s admirable commitment to peaceable protest.

posted by: streever on March 14, 2012  10:49am

I think Kurtz makes a great proposal.

The green is a space used by a lot of groups and individuals. The goal of Occupy is to raise awareness and create conversations—I think a way that allows the city to use the green and maintains a presence on the green is a good solution.

Would anyone from Occupy comment on Kurtz’s proposal?

posted by: EarlyBird on March 14, 2012  11:15am

Great suggestion, William Kurtz. Another option may be to occupy an empty retail space as part of the Project Storefronts initiative being run by the City.

posted by: Patty R on March 14, 2012  11:56am

For five months the occupiers have not published a single five page paper proposing a simple plan of action; That would make one page every month people.

Go run for office, go support those who run for office and who can come up with a basis plan of action! Or go get jobs. Anything but for heaven sake get off the green and stop trashing the grass making this town look like a slum.

Totally disgusted!

posted by: anonymous on March 14, 2012  12:10pm

Kurtz’s idea is already possible, I believe. You are allowed to set up a protest kiosk or sign board on the Green as long as you are there standing with it. Anything otherwise would be a restriction of free speech. The concern of the City has been about the use of permanent structures.

posted by: nh104 on March 14, 2012  2:41pm

The question on having a structure or not on the green is solely at the discretion of the proprietors.

Yes, over the years there have been some exceptions like the stage, the tree, and the 1907 fountain. But there have been far more things that have been removed or not built at all. Like the flying Santa in the 80’s for example. Since the proprietors have the final word on a structure and if they want it on their property or not, just as you do at home.

posted by: Walt on March 14, 2012  4:39pm

nh104

Are you saying the Proprietors of the Common Ground vetoed the flying Santa and his reindeer which used to soar over the Green in the Christmas season?

As I had bought a new 80 - foot- long Santa set in the ‘50’s (the original papiermache set had succumbed to the winter weather after a few years use)  I occasionally had wondered what had happened to this one-time favorite of New Haven area kids..

I had assumed deterioration   of Downtown and the disappearance of Malley’s and Macy’s and other important retailers who had financed the displays was the cause, but maybe   the then-stodgy Proprietors really shot them down as you hint.

Certainly they would have never allowed the current mess on the Green!

What’s the story?  Anyone?

posted by: nh104 on March 15, 2012  12:55am

@Walt

I doubt the proprietors put the flying Santa to rest.

From what I recall reading (i will note the article if i can find it again) about the flying Santa…one year the proprietors thought the looks of the Santa could have been better so Santa was replaced with a nicer looking version. Nothing bad, just about quality.

If i’m mistaken, i apologize, not trying to mislead.

posted by: GoodNatured on March 15, 2012  9:22am

Mark this as another endorsement of William Kurtz’ very reasonable suggestion.  An “Occupy” booth on the Green could be a meaningful and useful symbolic continuation of Occupy NH *and* Occupy WS.

It would also be an important step in forging alliances—now and through the summer—with the rest of us 99%ers (who are sympathetic but also want to give the grass a chance to recover, and don’t want to see Occupy end in a rancorous confrontation).

posted by: Walt on March 15, 2012  5:33pm

nh104

No apology needed.  Just curious.