Comments in the daily newspaper this morning sound as if the mayor is not inclined to permit the ongoing political demonstration. It's a tricky spot for city officials. The city permits Riverfest. It allows, if not permits, overnight tailgating in War Memorial Park. Other cities have accommodated demonstrations. Will Little Rock give its occupiers, expressing a political point of view, the boot today?
I dropped by about 8:30 a.m. A camper was sweeping the concrete pad on which the tents are pitched. A schedule was posted with the day's events. A visit from Police Chief Stuart Thomas was expected. A police cruiser was parked nearby.
UPDATE: Police radio chatter indicates city may be planning to suggest a move of campers to another location. And if campers resist? City Manager Moore says he's working on a plan that's "very respectful" of OLR participants.
UPDATE II: A police news conference is said to be coming shortly and the expectation is that the group is going to be asked/told to move. Supporters are calling City Hall with promises to provide portable toilets and other supplies to make the camp "sustainable."
UPDATE III: Gabe Gentry, of Mindful Media Productions, provides some video from the Occupy LR camp this morning. Find it on the jump.
MEANWHILE: Blog readers Barry Haas and Robert Johnston have sent note to City Manager Bruce Moore about fears that the city might try to evict the demonstrators:
I have heard that the City of Little Rock is contemplating taking some action against the Occupy Little Rock encampment. As a military veteran who served four years active duty so that every American would be able to have a voice in this country, I take great offense at any contemplated action against these peaceful demonstrators. I assume you have heard the term 'free speech'? Well, that doesn't just apply to those in Arab countries who are trying to do what we now seem to scorn in "the land of the free and home of the brave".
You should be proud that these Occupy Little Rock folks have gotten up off their duffs, moved away from their TVs and are participating in our democratic system.
Do we have to get a contingent of retired GIs together to protect the Occupy Little Rock Americans? Back off and let Democracy work.
Then Robert Johnston to Moore and the mayor:
I read that the City of Little Rock is contemplating evicting the Occupy Little Rock encampment at the Clinton Center.
I urge you to carefully consider any such action. It has the potential to portray the City of Little Rock in an extremely negative light.
I urge you to consult with President Clinton on this. The negative effect will reflect on him as well as on the city.
I am a military veteran who served four years active duty in the Vietnam era. I also taught government for 17 years at three colleges — the US Military Academy at West Point, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock , and Hendrix College. Constitutional law may very well protect this camping as a form of free speech, freedom of assembly, and/or petition.
I read of a proposal to get retired GIs to gather to protect the Occupy Little Rock Americans. I will be part of that.
Captain/ US Army/ 1965-69
And then there was a Facebook message from Annie Abrams, who helped the city pass a sales tax increase (with some editing to correct typos):
This is a possible decision that can have historic impact on this city which will be perceived for years to come. It should be based on the potential of a threat of health and safety of the citizens only. The quality and quantity of resources needed to prevent violence is the decision the City Manager must make always.
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