Activists come in all different kinds. Some abstain from eating meat because they are against the factory-farm system. Some attend protests on the weekends and then go home to their jobs and families. Though the actions of these kinds of activists are brave and important, they often don’t pose a great immediate threat to the status quo. --- For this reason, another type of activism was born: occupation. The people behind Occupy Wall Street have been camped out for nearly three weeks now. Their message is “We are not going anywhere until things change.”
Now the movement has come to Salt Lake City, and a small tent city has sprung up in Pioneer Park. After the march on Thursday, many protesters chose not to go home and resume their normal lives. They stayed. Last night, only about a half a dozen tents could be seen. This afternoon, there were close to 40 tents and about 100 occupiers.
The camp is now situated on the north end of the park instead of the south end, in an effort to prevent damage to receding grass. Peace Keepers, volunteers from the activist group Peaceful Uprising, kept watch throughout the night to make sure the camp was safe. The only complaints from those who spent the night on Thursday were that it was extremely cold and that some overly enthusiastic occupiers were a little too loud.
The camp is well-organized and comfortable. A larger tent with a cross serves as first aid. A shade tent with mosquito netting sits on the periphery of the camp. Called the “Sacred Space,” it provides occupiers with a quiet place to meditate or pray. The “kitchen” is lined with tables that are stacked high with a variety of snacks. Most of the food comes from individual donors who support the cause, but a few local businesses have mobilized, as well. BlueStar Juice & Coffee is providing an unlimited supply of coffee. Rimini and Greenhouse Effect have also donated. Occupiers can munch on apples, bagels, and other snacks. A huge selection of teas is also available, as well as a healthy supply of bottled water. A table with the sign “Free School” sits on the north end of the camp, with a sign-up sheet for anyone who wants to teach a class or workshop.
“It’s going incredibly well,” says Occupy Salt Lake organizer Greg Lucero. “We made it through the first night, which is always a good thing. We had at least a 100-person march this morning. There’s going to be another march at 6 p.m. that we decided on at the last General Assembly. The [next] General Assembly is meeting again at 7 p.m. and we’re going to be deciding a lot of things about the camp and our procedure and where we’re going from here.”
Occupy Salt Lake is definitely a different kind of activism. It still remains to be seen whether it will have a different kind of effect on our community.