Tag Archives: Occupy Boise

Occupy fights the law: Will the law win? (Salon)

From Boise to Nashville, the movement faces an unconstitutional legal siege

Occupy Boise is under legal and meteorological siege. (Credit: AP/John Miller)

The Occupy movement is an exercise in the workings of power whether it is social, financial, policing or political. The occupations that began in September spread with an infectious passion in part because the police violence and mass arrests, the tried-and-true methods of state power employed to suppress radical movements, backfired and the movement grew more. By October hundreds of encampments had popped up nationwide with the tacit cooperation and sometimes explicit approval of local officials. For a few heady weeks Occupy Wall Street had the glow of popular legitimacy – social power – trumping whatever fusty laws prohibited camping or a continuous presence in a public space.

The inevitable counteroffensive was launched in November. Using the mass media, politicians hyped the movements as imminent threats to public health and safety, justifying aggressive evictions of prominent occupations in Oakland, Calif., Portland, Ore., and New York City. Within weeks other major encampments in Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston and New Orleans were scattered with hundreds of arrests. A third wave of closures has been underway since late January with occupations shut down from Hawaii to Miami and Austin, Texas, to Buffalo, N.Y.

Nonetheless, some encampments survive. In Houston a small contingent is legally maintaining a presence in downtown Tranquility Park, though a ban on tents and tarps has kept all but the hardy or desperate away. In Tampa Bay, after months of police harassment, occupiers found a safe haven in a privately owned public space donated by a wealthy supporter.

Now, a new strategy is being deployed to yank the rug from under occupations in four cities: legal power. Politicians have recently passed laws in Honolulu and Charlotte, N.C., that with a stroke of the pen made the occupations illegal, enabling police to sweep them away. Two more occupations, in Boise, Idaho, and Nashville, may be nearing the end as their respective state legislatures are on the verge of outlawing the democratic villages that for months have been thriving next to edifices of power. Critics charge that the anti-Occupy laws reveal how the law is not an objective code that treats everyone equally, but an arbitrary weapon wielded by the powerful.

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Fear and occupation in red America (Salon)

In Wyoming and Idaho, the movement confronts a conservative reality

BY ARUN GUPTA

Occupy protesters on the Capitol steps in Boise, Idaho. (Credit: AP/Jessie L. Bonner)

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BOISE, Idaho — One talked, the other snickered. The talker wore a red Harley-Davidson jacket and a salt-and-pepper poof of hair and drooping mustache. ” While the snickerer watched, the talker harangued Jon Howard, a “marginally employed” stagehand, about whether the Boise occupation was legal, and Jon said it was. The talker wanted to know whether they were paying for the electricity they were using on the grounds of the old Ada County Courthouse, and Jon said they were. A moment earlier I had sensed the tension and bounded over, looking for a reason to escape the wild-eyed “home-church” Christian pastor I had made the mistake of engaging.

It didn’t take long for the talker to get a look at me and launch into an “all you left-wing supporters of Obama” monologue. I mentioned I was an out-of-town observer and asked if he was with the Tea Party.

“I’m a conservative. And an American,” he said.

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