Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Occupy Fairbanks Maintains Outdoor Vigil At Veteran's Memorial Park Even At Temperatures Of 50 Below Zero

From the Occupy Fairbanks Facebook page
The prolonged deep cold snap affecting Interior Alaska and sending temperatures plummeting to colder than -60F in many areas has not chilled the enthusiasm or dedication of the Occupy Fairbanks movement. Despite temperatures in Fairbanks bottoming out at -51F, Occupy Fairbanks maintains a continuous presence at Veteran's Memorial Park. The core group of 15 people, augmented from time to time by a larger group of supporters, take shifts ranging from a few hours to 12 hours, using a pair of tents erected in November to keep themselves warm while maintaining a 24-hour presence. The tents are equipped with heaters.

Their main problem now is that their port-a-pottie was removed from the park at the behest of Rep. Tammie Wilson (R-North Pole) after she got a call from a constituent who mentioned a city ordinance about the long term use of portable toilets. Ironically, her constituents live in North Pole, not Fairbanks, so why a Fairbanks city ordinance would be pertinent to someone living in North Pole is unclear. Occupiers cope by using the bathroom in City Hall during the day and urinating in closed containers inside the tents at night. The Occupiers hope to make some kind of arrangement with the borough to have the toilet returned, and are also asking local businesses in the area for permission to set up the toilet on their property.

On their Facebook page, Occupy Fairbanks re-states their three primary goals:

1. Separation of corporation and state; enacting reform in the government to remove the power of corporate lobbyists over our representatives, and to sever the incestuous ties between government and big money. One way to do this is campaign finance reform, entailing a repeal of the Citizens United ruling. This problem represents issues both in the private sector and the government, and change is not possible without reform to both.

2. Fiscal Accountability and Transparency; corporations as well as the government need to held accountable for their collusive fiscal actions. A prime example of this is the exorbitant bailout taxpayers paid to banks that were “too big to fail,” who in turn continue to refuse loans to small businesses and carry on predatory lending practices. No one was or has since been held accountable for this problem (except taxpayers). There can be no such thing as “too big to fail.”

3. Creating awareness through the spread of information regarding local and national issues precipitated by these overarching concerns. The issues we are protesting are relevant to every citizen of our country, and it is paramount that they be informed. Apathy and disinformation are the enemies of democracy, and for too long both have preyed on the power of the individual and the value of the vote. It is high time we took our democracy back.

Occupy Fairbanks has scrupulously avoided the destructive misbehavior by other Occupy contingents, most notably those in Oakland and New York City. Consequently, Occupy Fairbanks is best judged by their own actions rather than the sins of others. But politics is dynamic rather than static, and at some point, the Occupiers must consider moving beyond the Occupy mode and into a different mode. Either get involved in the campaigns of similar-minded candidates such as Ron Paul, or else consider running candidacies of their own. Some of them might make good state legislative candidates, even if they run merely to "spread awareness".

Some quality comments from the News-Miner which provide a good snapshot of local opinion (after the jump):

sonofchulio February 1st around 8:00 A.M:
The perseverance of the local protesters is impressive. They've gone through 2 good cold snaps and some windy, snowy days. For that, I tip my hat.

But I have 3 problems with them:

1. The trespassing issue. Setting up and remaining at the camp, in spite of clear borough camping laws, is a poke in the community's eye.

2. Their presumption that they speak for me when they claim title to the 99%. They don't. They are a subset of the 100%--just like other groups with political motives. Many of the big players and street protesters in the movement are communists and/or anarchists, and neither group speaks for me. Just the opposite, I condemn both.

3. By their existence, OccupyFairbnks is in league with, and in support of, the OWS movement across the nation. They might proclaim that they only support the good stuff, but their support is taken for moral assent by the movement (and the media) for the bad stuff, i.e. street riots, vandalism, public urination and defecation, bank invasions, dock blockades, vermin, and violence within their movement. Even more loathsome are the many reports of racism and Jew hating within the movement.

It's my belief that the national movement is going to explode in the coming spring and summer. I don't mean exploding in more popular support--I mean in violence across the nation, especially at the political conventions. The reaction to Occupy violence might be equally repugnant and violent. This is not a threat, it is a prediction.

Go home, children.

LadyNYC February 1st around 9:00 A.M:
Whether or not ows survives as a movement is almost irrelevant. The issues will remain, and because this is an election year, those issues will be in the forefront of national discourse.

It could be that only the anarchists and communists remain in ows, and that people who advocate peaceful protest will align under a different banner. I don't the national movement will explode this spring and summer simply because the number of supporters will be much diminished if the occupy movement continues with violence. I think some violence is possible, and likely, from the extreme, radical fringes, but they will be in small, scattered groups. I don't see a massive populist uprising happening at all. Far too many people want peace and stability, not more violence and chaos.

As for Occupy Fairbanks, I think they are well-intentioned individuals. But what is the point of their protest at Veteran's Park? This is a question I had back in October, when they started occupying the park. I think the question is as valid today as it was then. They are protesting economic injustices. Fine. Noble, in fact. But when does the protest end? When do they leave the park? If their answer to that is only once there are no more economic injustices, then they'll pretty much never leave Veteran's Park.

Without a clear set of goals, without specific grievances that can be addressed and resolved - locally - they're setting themselves up for permanent protest, and a permanent encampment at Veteran's Park. This has the potential to get ugly in the summer, especially. Given the conservative nature of this community, I can easily see people camping out at Veteran's Park in the summer to protest the protesters. If the borough and city think they have problems now, just wait until that happens.

Occupy Fairbanks needs clearly defined goals. Without goals, they are merely protesting for the sake of protesting. Which is ultimately a waste of time, and a waste of their good, idealism-laced energy. There are ways to make a difference, ways to enact change, neither of which will happen without clear goals.

FreeLiberTea February 1st around 10:00 A.M:
Back in 2011, I heard one of the Occupy Fairbanks folks on the radio say they were going to stay out there "for as long as it takes." What does that even mean?

What's your goal? If you don't have a goal, then how will you know when you've reached it? Or are you just going to stay out there until America magically transforms into an egalitarian utopia?

A better approach might be to go home, warm up, stay informed, and pay attention to mainstream politics. Take note from the recent SOPA/PIPA protest. That was amazing, and it pains me to see people compare it to Occupy Wall Street. The difference? The SOPA/PIPA protest used effective means to reach a specific goal. Contact your senators to stop S.968. Mission accomplished.

What's the Occupy Wall Street equivalent? Camp out "for as long as it takes" until everything fixes itself? How can that possibly work?

DoctorZaius February 1st 12:00 P.M:
A couple of points...

1. Most of us have jobs. I certainly do. I also have not more than one student loan on my head, and have financed the vast majority of my education out of my own pocket through hard labor, so I don't need to be preached to about "getting a job" or "living off of mommy/daddy/student loans."

2. Our demonstration has never disrespected the sanctity of the park. We count many veterans among our active members and supporters, and many more who simply condone our actions. If you personally feel that we are an affront to you, please come down and talk it over with us. The Nose Miner is a horrific place for working out differences.

3. Neither myself, Occupy Fairbanks, Occupy Wall Street, nor any of their supporters or benefactors presume to represent the will and interests of the 99%. Any who do are hypocrites and liars. Rather, what we represent are issues relevant TO the "99%," and to really cut through the rhetoric, relevant to the 100%.

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