Occupy holds strong despite weather

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By Phil Zielinski
Lansing Star staff writer

 

Many thought the change in weather would end the upstart Occupy Lansing movement, but lately it has only seemed to grow stronger and more organized.

According to Aaron Mayfield, who all the occupiers refer to as “Bear”, the numbers hover around 15-20 people during the week to almost 40 on the weekends.

Tents are popping up all over Reutter Park as more people begin staying in the park overnight. The occupiers have no plans to leave anytime soon.

“There is going to be a lot more planned for the next week,” Mayfield said.  “People need to know we’re still out here. People need to know we’re here for them. We are doing it for the 99 percent.”

Along with growing in numbers, organization of the movement has increased dramatically.  Separate committees have been formed within the group, ranging from Media Outreach to Education.  They also hold general assembly at least once a day, allowing for issues to be heard, events to be planned, and discussions to be had.

“We even deal in homeless outreach,” Mayfield said. “They’re part of the 99 percent too, and a lot of them are veterans.”

One member of the group mentioned that these are people that were allowed to pick up a gun to defend our country, but are now being ignored. The groups turns nobody away, sharing their food with the homeless; while giving advice or just simply a place to sleep.

Another member of the movement, wanting simply to be known as Roman, highlighted how safe the park has become for the people who sleep in it every night.  Safety is provided by a night-watch system, in which everyone plays their part.

They are also developing ways to become a more sustainable operation in the park.  They have set up a first-aid tent and recycling stations, with more coming soon.

Living in a park hasn't stopped the occupiers from recycling, with designated bins all around the camp.

“We are going to have a kitchen soon,” Roman said. “It will allow us to have food for longer, making us more sustainable.”

One of the factors that has allowed Occupy Lansing to be so successful so far, is full support from the city of Lansing.

“Along with the movement in Albany, we are the only two that have the full support of our city’s mayor and police department,” Mayfield said. “I have the numbers of both police chiefs in my cell phone.”

They have maintained this positive relationship by keeping the city informed of everything that they plan to do; and the city responds by doing everything they can to help.

“When we had the march from Michigan State’s campus to the park, we told the police and they did a great job of blocking the roads for us,” Roman said.

Now that the group has organized themselves and put together a working community in the park, they have turned to planning events so that more people in the Lansing area can experience the movement.  A general strike is being planned for Nov. 2, an act of solidarity with the Occupy Oakland movement, where an Iraq War veteran was injured by a tear gas canister fired by police officers.

Another event is being planned that will involve the students of MSU, although he cannot divulge any details yet, Mayfield promises it will be unique.

“We are planning something special in the next few weeks. We want MSU students to come out here for it,” Mayfield said. “It will be unlike anything ever been done before.”

If you want to learn more about Occupy Lansing or join the movement, visit them at occupylansing.us; or just stop by Reutter Park for general assembly held every day around 7 p.m.

3 thoughts on “Occupy holds strong despite weather

  1. Great story. I like how you humanized it by writing about how it’s a “community” of sorts, adding in the veteran perspective and the city cooperation. I would have liked to see some people in the pictures, though, rather than just tents. Also, in the last paragraph, I would embed a link rather than just type out the website for Occupy Lansing.

  2. Thank you Chelsea! I am sorry about the lack of people in the pictures, and I agree with your suggestion to embed the link. Thank you again for the feedback and for visiting our site.