Occupy movement thinking outside the tent
Posted February 25, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — The Occupy movement turned a corner Saturday in Raleigh with an event designed to draw protesters from across the state of North Carolina to the capital.
The Occupy NC Statewide General Assembly began with a march from the Occupy Raleigh camp at 11 N. West St. and proceeded to the grounds of the state capitol. The day included workshops in which participants shared their knowledge about political protest, cyber-outreach and civil rights.
Organizers hoped the weekend gathering would focus more attention on their concerns about economic inequality and less on their living arrangements.
Most of the encampments are gone. Some were concluded by the activists, like those in Chapel Hill who continue to have meetings on the site of their old camp, and others were dispersed by police, as in Charlotte and Asheville.
"A lot of the occupations that have taken down their encampments because too much of their energy and time have been focused on maintaining the encampment and not doing action and not doing important things," said Alanna Davis of Occupy Chapel Hill.
Antonio Rahman of Occupy Raleigh said the camping is not the point. "We have people that only stay here a few nights here and there when they can but otherwise have jobs or school or whatever," he said.
"We are here to say that our government is here to represent 'we the people,' not we the corporation, not we the banks," Rahman said. "Apparently our Congresspeople are not getting the message."
The Raleigh camp, one of the longest-standing of the Occupy movement, was in danger of being shut down last week when the landlord asked occupiers to come up with liability insurance. The tenants pay $400 per month to rent the lot on West Street. Insurance would cost another $700 per year.
Even if they have to pack up their tents, organizers say events like Saturday's will serve as a reminder of their message.
"We're getting ready for a new phase that will build Occupy momentum and shine an even brighter spotlight on economic inequality and the damage brought by corporate greed," said Occupy Raleigh's Kurt Zehnder.
Jim Braman, with Occupy Raleigh, said about 150 people attended Saturday's events.