Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Occupy Iowa City Evicted from College Green Park in Iowa City

I wrote last month about the difficulty that Occupy Iowa City was having getting actual protesters to occupy College Green Park here in Iowa City. Iowa City has responded differently to its Occupy Movement than most communities. Most communities pepper spray and club their occupiers. Iowa City gave them a permit to occupy one of its parks as long as they met certain requirements. Unfortunately, Occupy Iowa City has failed to meet its end of the bargain and now they are about to get evicted by the City of Iowa City!:
Occupy Iowa City members must move out of College Green Park by the end of the month, the city manager’s office said Monday. The city has denied the group’s application to renew the four-month permit that had allowed members to stay overnight in the park since last fall.

City Manager Tom Markus laid out a series of reasons for the decision. Among them are “significant damage” to the park’s turf; health and safety concerns; and a disproportionate use of police resources to respond to drunk individuals, fights, thefts and other problems at the park.

He said the main reason to deny the permit was that the group’s presence diminishes the public’s ability to use the 2.4-acre park a few blocks east of downtown. “At some point, we need to return our park to the public,” he said.

Protestors began occupying the park in October as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement that started over concerns of economic inequality. Once winter set in, few protestors stayed in the park, and the handful who did were mostly homeless people.

With snow falling early Monday afternoon, only one person was found among the two dozen tents set up in the park. The middle-aged woman declined to give her name but said she was one of just a couple true Occupy Iowa City members to still be spending nights in the park. She also said a few people have given the group a bad reputation by causing problems with drinking and fighting.
According to their Facebook page, Occupy Iowa City's general assembly will gather on Thursday to discuss options.

The Empty "Occupy Iowa City" Camp
Personally, I'm not sure where the occupation of Iowa City's College Green Park was heading if not to a close. I mean, how can they justify fighting to maintain their presence in the park when hardly anyone connected to the actual political movement was actually maintaining any sort of presence in the park.

I'm not saying that the Occupy Iowa City movement should stop, but I do believe that it's time for them to develop a new strategy. Which isn't to say that they have been silent since winter began. Occupy Iowa City protesters have been seen at various locations both before and during the Iowa Caucus and made their opinions known. But beyond that, their most visible contribution to Iowa City has been a trash-filled, crime-ridden campsite. In other words, it's time for Occupy Iowa City to occupy something besides College Green Park -- if for no other reason that to re-brand its identity.

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