Occupy Tampa Continues

Today is a beautiful day for an occupation. The sun is shining in a cloudless sky. Temperatures this afternoon reached the low 80's. The fine weather attracted Orion all the way from Omaha, Nebraska. Two days ago he arrived in Florida, where he now plays his guitar. Asked about Nebraska's occupy movement, he says: "They (protesters) are all around the capitol in Lincoln. He calls Lincoln, Nebraska a "bastion of democracy." The University of Lincoln even allows tents. Orion loves the weather here, but says he will probably soon return to Nebraska where he builds grain silos.

A pizza arrives. Orion stops playing to get lunch.

Next to the table Jeremy, a regular occupier here, and recent arrival Adrian engage in conversation that is not amicable. Jeremy who works for a software business, holds dual Canadian and US citizenship. Adrian, who ran an ice machine business for twenty years has zeroed in on Jeremy's smoking habit. He rails against Canadian health care and who pays for it. There is much leaping around from the war to health care costs to police to lawyers to oil and the war. The topic jumping is dizzying, mostly one sided--and one wonders, by design? Jeremy walks off in exasperation. The writer lingers a bit, mostly listening, then moves on to the table.

Here is a petition against corporate corruption in government. There are various leaflets about the Occupy Movement, for those who prefer their information offline; also a couple of tiny American flags in a cup.

An elder couple brings two brightly striped blankets. No one is at the table to meet and greet at this moment so they set the neatly folded blankets down on one of the cement stumps. Along the street side of Curtis Hixon Park are these concrete cylinders that are maybe waist high and spaced about six feet apart.They serve as tables, perfectly sized for a large pizza box. Also, the campers sleep between them at night, in a hopeful attempt to stay safe from a passing car that might lose control and swerve onto the sidewalk.

Now it's noon and the warm sun is high. More occupiers arrive. Here are Megan and Felix:
Garvin and Megan

Megan is from Ocala, Florida, a bucolic region also known as "horse country." For now, there is no Occupy Ocala, so Megan comes to Tampa. It feels to her "like an extension of the civil rights movement." Megan references Dr. Martin Luther King, and the work he had to leave unfinished, even though she was not born when Martin Luther King led the '60's movement, and says the Occupiers are continuing King's legacy.

Felix says he is here 24/7 and continues on his way.

Garvin, a Tampa native, who has just started a new job, and is obviously joyful about that fact, was this morning just "walking by," and decided to stay awhile.

To him, this movement represents "change...in the economy, in the country in general, a new system."
"I think it's something good," he says. "It should have been here ten years ago. I'm gonna come around more."

At the other end of the spectrum is Keith, a regular camper here, who has been charged with battery on a police officer. One of those arrested during a 3 A.M. raid at the park, Keith says the cop bumped into him from behind, and maintains he did not assault or hit anyone. The arrest has hit him especially hard, however, since Keith has been director of Performing Arts Summer Camp for the past two years. A felony conviction will end his career working with the kids. He has not been getting work since the arrests, even though he's not yet convicted of anything. He was considering returning to school for child development, but now--who knows?

On a somewhat optimistic note, Keith says (TPD) have stopped shining flashlights on us at 3 A.M. They've been more tactful in their tactics."

"The way they've been arresting people has been very strange."

Other Tampa occupiers have echoed this observation. Arrests have been selective, as if TPD is trying to target and remove certain people. Are they looking for "leaders" where there are none?

As the writer leaves, more pizzas arrive. Occupy lunch. Please serve yourselves.

A pizza appears

A well wisher delivers lunch to the occupiers
Update: 11.15.2011
This writer usually sleeps like a rock. For some reason, I kept waking up through the early morning hours. At 4:30 A.M. I logged on to Twitter and found out why. NYPD had started its raid on the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Zucotti Park, NYC, on the pretext of needing to "clean" the park.

The occupiers belongings were seized, thrown into a dumpster and/or destroyed. At least 70 occupiers were arrested. Journalists were banned from the scene and some reporters were roughed up by police. Gaza, anyone? A Manhattan judge decided late Tuesday the occupy protesters could return to Zucotti Park, but without their tents/sleeping bags.

Tents, tarps and sleeping bags are protection from the elements. Would Bloomberg also like to outlaw umbrellas, rain coats, boots, mittens?

The tent has been a symbol of the Occupy Wall Street movement since day one. (Yes We Camp.)
Tents are both symbolic of, and a statement of solidarity with the many (99%) living outdoors as homeless persons-- including those people evicted by fraudulent banking practices, evicted by gentrification of working class neighborhoods, evicted due to unemployment/loss of income--all of these social ills caused by the Great Financial Crash of 2008 perpetrated by the 1% against the 99%.

In the Occupy movement, how are tents not free speech?

This writer has been witnessing these atrocities for many years, and has been a victim of housing terrorism as well. I owe nothing to the corporate media, not even a paycheck, and so I'm free to voice my solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement in NYC and everywhere in the world. Viva the 99%!

Opinions expressed here are mine, and not necessarily the viewpoint of OccupyTampa or the Occupy movement in general.

Please bring factual errors to my attention.

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