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Businessman charges Occupy Raleigh $400 a month to camp

Posted November 29, 2011
Updated November 30, 2011

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— Protesters with the Occupy Raleigh movement moved into a more permanent base camp last week, thanks to a local business owner who saw his new tenants as a capitalist opportunity.

Rob Baumgart, who owns a Sprint and Nextel sales company called Chatterbox Communications, is leasing a 2,500-square-foot lot near the corner of West and Edenton streets, not far from downtown. He's charging $400 a month to the group of about 15 people who have braved the cold and rain to camp out for their cause.

It's what any small businessman who believes in making money would do, he said.

"That's $400 that I didn't have last month, and if the city allows me to continue doing it for 12 months, that's $4,800," Baumgart said Tuesday. "I don't know a single American who would turn down $4,800 a year."

The irony isn't lost on the protesters, but they say, after the city turned down their request for a spot in a Raleigh park, paying for a private lot was somewhat inevitable.

"You can't live outside the system you are fighting," said demonstrator Antonio Rahman. "If you were against global warming, that doesn't mean you can't drive your car anymore. If you want to get to somewhere to give a speech against global warming, you're probably going to need a car or maybe a plane."

"You have to use these systems to fight your battles," Rahman said.

City officials said they're looking into whether the base camp violates any laws.

"I will be respectful of the city. If they're happy with what's going on, (the protesters) can stay. If the city tells me to cease and desist, then I'll have to oblige," Baumgart said.

In the meantime, he and Occupy Raleigh said they're pleased with the arrangement.

"It wasn't comfortable being on the sidewalk at the Capitol, being in the rain for hours," Rahman said. "It's starting to get cold. It's winter."

The new camp has electricity, so protesters can cook and run small heaters, as well as a library.

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  • btanner6 Nov 30, 2011

    The Occupiers are simply asserting their constitutional rights to say "something is wrong"! Although I am fortunate to have a job and live in a house with accompanying mortgage payment, I believe that corporate money buys our politicians hence decisions are made in Washington to favor corporations not people. Our currnet recession and the housing crisis is a direct result of this kind of decision making.

  • jhk0704 Nov 30, 2011

    I am going to start my own Occupy movement called "Occupy a Job you BUM!"

  • PokeyGirl Nov 30, 2011

    "The Occupiers are like people in the middle of a crowded escalator who must constantly step aside while others willing to put out more effort than them get to the top faster, passing them by. Suddenly the Occupiers, who started in the middle of the crowd on the escalator, find themselves at the back of the crowd. To them, this is unfair, because, through no fault of their own, and no change in their own personal circumstances, too many others have simply moved past them, and that ... well, it's just not FAIR, in their eyes. Thus they demand that those who have passed them by give them some of what they have derived from their efforts, so that they too can get to the top. What a sad commentary on what the plethora of riches in this great country have wrought.
    Click to view my profile JohnDrescher" EXACTLY. Well said. And I as said before, quoting an SNL skit - it's like they're all saying "Where's MY stuff?!?"

  • Riddickfield Nov 30, 2011

    Well so long as they aren't costing us 53% more in terms of police, security, trash pick up, etc. I'm OK with them camping out and paying rent to do so.

  • That Explains It Nov 30, 2011

    The Occupiers are like people in the middle of a crowded escalator who must constantly step aside while others willing to put out more effort than them get to the top faster, passing them by. Suddenly the Occupiers, who started in the middle of the crowd on the escalator, find themselves at the back of the crowd. To them, this is unfair, because, through no fault of their own, and no change in their own personal circumstances, too many others have simply moved past them, and that ... well, it's just not FAIR, in their eyes. Thus they demand that those who have passed them by give them some of what they have derived from their efforts, so that they too can get to the top.

    What a sad commentary on what the plethora of riches in this great country have wrought.

  • Billfisher Nov 30, 2011

    Leading story right now "Stocks Leap on Central Banks' Coordinated Action" 'The Dow Jones industrial average soared more than 400 points.' 'Big U.S. banks were among the top gainers on the stock market. JPMorgan Chase & Co. jumped 6.6 percent; Morgan Stanley 6.9 percent and Citigroup Inc. 6 percent.'

    So tell me OWS supporters, is this good news or is this bad news for your quasi "movement"? I'd say it's a good thing for the 99% of Americans who think you're off base trying to change capitalism. Here in lies the fly in your ointment. In order for your to be successful with your 'movement' (term used loosely) the major financial players in the WORLD must fail. When they fail we all fail. Is that what you guys want? Instead of some having more than others, you would like for no one to have anything?

  • withoutregret Nov 30, 2011

    "withoutregret, then please tell me why they are not focusing their protests on members of congress and the white house as well as their state legislators and governors?"

    I'm wondering, did you read the article? Where are the protestors considering moving their protest FROM? Go ahead. The class is waiting.

  • westernwake1 Nov 30, 2011

    "withoutregret, then please tell me why they are not focusing their protests on members of congress and the white house as well as their state legislators and governors?" -Nancy

    Good point. The good news is that there is a like-minded group in North Carolina that broke away from the useless street protests and are now involved in the political process. They have a 'The Occupy Party of North Carolina" group on Facebook. Shortly they will have a website at OccupyPartyNC.org If Occupy wants to make any progress with their agenda they will need to get involved in the political process and stop simply camping out. I applaud the group that is moving in a new direction.

    "I don't waste my time with incoherent groups" - dws

    Actually I have visited two occupy sites. I found the people at each to be articulate, polite, and helpful. The main problem is that they have a hundred different messages.

  • Nancy Nov 30, 2011

    withoutregret, then please tell me why they are not focusing their protests on members of congress and the white house as well as their state legislators and governors?

  • WooHoo2You Nov 30, 2011

    the qoutes in the article sort of makes it sound like the protestors would prefer communism....-mmtlash

    Which one? I don't think you even read the story.

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