Occupy Wall St., free assembly, and the odd homeless ally


The Occupy movement puts a few interesting questions in front of us all:

1. What happens to free assembly when there’s no public space? Zuccotti Park in New York City is a private park. The only visible, publicly owned space in the city where I live is the land around City Hall. Oh, also the 45 mph highways … public, but not exactly safe for assembly.

2. What happens to free assembly when government defines “public space” as belonging to the government, not the public? That’s what happened here in North Carolina, where Occupiers were told to leave, first the grounds of the State Capitol, then the adjacent sidewalks, which “belonged to the State Capitol.” Strangely, I thought the State Capitol belonged to the State, which belongs to the taxpayers, which includes the Occupiers …

3. When Occupiers find themselves ill-equipped to manage the homeless and mentally ill who move into their tent city … why do people fault the Occupiers? Why blame the Occupiers for our communities’ failure to provide housing and care for “the least of these, my brethren”?

All I can “blame” on the Occupiers is bringing to light issues that many already knew existed.

What do you think about the Occupy movement?

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About Carlene Byron

Writer, editor, publicist, communications project manager ... I've written technology and infrastructure; I used to edit New England Church Life and The New England Christian and I've freelanced to publications ranging from Commonweal to Christianity Today. I'm now living in my hometown in Maine and am speaking about global perspectives on suicide prevention.
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2 Responses to Occupy Wall St., free assembly, and the odd homeless ally

  1. I am really cheering the movement on. I am glad that society is finally starting to wake up and see all the mess that has been going on for way too long. For the wall street movement, stay strong and hopefully this winter will not be to rough. I was also wondering if it might be better to stop for the winter and reorganize to come back better prepared in the spring. Any thoughts?

    • I am trusting God and the leadership. The current idea of occupying vacant foreclosed homes seems like it makes a strong point. The ownership of most mortgaged (and thus of most foreclosed) properties is dubious due to the break-up and bundling of mortgage securities, as well as the use of “robosigning” to create false loan documents. So there’s really no property “owner” on whose behalf police can legitimately evict protesters in most cases. It will be an interesting winter.

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