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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Occupy Little Rock to contest eviction UPDATE

Posted By on Sun, May 13, 2012 at 7:23 PM

NOT DONE PROTESTING: Occupy Little Rock, shown here at an earlier Capitol rally, isnt ready to give up.
  • NOT DONE PROTESTING: Occupy Little Rock, shown here at an earlier Capitol rally, isn't ready to give up.

Occupy Little Rock, scheduled for eviction from its 4th and Ferry camp by the city of Little Rock at 7 a.m. Wednesday, isn't ready to give up.

Spokesman Greg Deckelman said the group will file suit Monday for an injunction to stop the eviction. The suit will contend the city has acted arbitrarily and will proceed unconstitutionally if it moves ahead with the forced closure of the camp as promised Wednesday morning.

Occupy LR will have a news conference about its actions at 5 p.m. Monday at City Hall and also plans to ask to be heard Tuesday night by the City Board. It has been negotiating for several weeks with City Manager Bruce Moore about an alternative camping spot. The city contends it needs the parking lot the group has been using for auxiliary parking for Riverfest on Memorial Day weekend.

UPDATE: Occupy LR announced Monday afternoon that it would delay action and the news conference for 24 hours to continue to work with the city in hopes of finding a new protest site.

Occupy Little Rock has been working on obtaining permission to use private property as a new location for its base of protest and has made progress on a site. But it said it can't complete arrangements by Wednesday morning.

Police barricades around the existing camp have come down and much of the tent city has already been dismantled. Police are prepared to arrest Occupy members who refuse to leave Wednesday morning. Arrests are expected, though my understanding is that the expectation is that they will be done peacefully without resistance, perhaps even with coffee and doughnuts for the police. A symbolic arrest of an LR Nine of occupiers was discussed at one point.

If I know the authoritarian bent of the city directors who've been irked for weeks by the protest camp by the freeway, this will irk them even further. Expect some stern lectures from them about these agitators if given a chance at Tuesday's board meeting. Too bad. These directors could learn something from the determined, mannerly and well-informed activism that has marked the Occupy LR action from the start of its action in October. The most disgruntled board members — and Occupy has some supporters on the board, by the way — remind me of nothing so much as the sort of teenagers who got so offended by long hair in the 1960s that they gathered accomplices to forcibly cut the hair of those who dared to present an appearance that didn't conform to the norm. You'd think history would teach you can tear down tents and arrest dirty hippies and cut hair, but you can't eradicate speech or ideas, not even with guns.

Occupy LR has been meeting with attorneys and, as in other endeavors, doesn't enter the next phase of protest unprepared.

PS — Funny. Bill Keller of NY Times is writing here about Chinese dissidents. But ...

Dissidents are difficult. They moralize. They don’t compromise. They don’t know when to shut up. They don’t see the Big Picture. All the qualities that made them dissidents in the first place can make them irritants ...

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