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.
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.
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.