Occupy Austin One Week Old
The Occupy Austin protests are a week old Thursday, and protesters say they may be there for months to come. The Occupy Austin movement is one of several that grew out of the Occupy Wall Street Protests in New York.
About 200 people are gathering daily at Austin City Hall. Four Occupy Austin protestors were arrested early Thursday morning for criminal trespassing. Police say they refused to leave at 2:00 a.m., when the city shut down the Plaza for clean-up. In a written notice, the city says it will be closing every morning from from 2-6 a.m. Occupy Austin media representative Sylvia Benini said organizers and city officials both agreed the space needed some power washing.
“Bottom line: we agreed it must be cleaned up and it’s going to take, as they explain, repetitive cleanings, just like the streets in Austin when the rain came there were months and months of grime built up. It’s going to take repeated washing to get this clean,” Benini told KUT.
The City of Austin told KUT the power washing does not violate current watering restrictions, because it is being done to alleviate a public health hazard.
Benini says organizers worked with the city in deciding early morning clean-up hours that would have the least impact on protests. She says while protesters were told in advance they’d need to leave at 2 a.m., she stands behind those who got arrested Thursday morning.
“They have a personal responsibility to do what they know to be right in their hearts. We expect every individual to seriously think about this. If you choose to exercise your first amendment rights in a peaceful non-violent manner you will be supported,” Benini said.
But while Occupy Austin has been trying to hone its message, some Austinites are still confused about what they’re demanding.
“I work downtown at the moment and whenever I go by and see it I see a lot of not conflicting messages but very different messages; it’s kind of not a unified voice,” Chris Hogan told KUT News this morning. He thinks some people are protesting just because they think it’s a popular thing to do.
“I see a lot of people that I feel are protesting just to protest. I see a handful of people where I see where they’re coming from, they’re making really, really good points and then I see a lot of people making extremely radical points like almost overturning the government and starting from new and it’s kind of hard to take a movement like that seriously,” Hogan said.
Occupy Austin organizers say they “vow to end the monied corruption of our democracy.” Stopping corporate contributions to the nation’s political process is among their goals, as well as an overhaul of banking regulations. On a local scale, Benini says Occupy Austin is researching how the city government is handling taxpayer money.