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Monday, March 18,2013

Sleeping elsewhere

Occupy Lansing members will no longer sleep in Reutter Park as part of a compromise with the city

by Nyssa Rabinowitz
Occupy Lansing members Aaron Mayfield (left) and Ken D. Orlich announced the group's winter plans at a press conference this afternoon.

Saturday, Dec. 3 — Occupy Lansing protesters will no longer
sleep overnight in their base at Reutter Park effective tonight, said Aaron
Mayfield, a Lansing member who announced the arrangement at a press conference
this afternoon.


The new arrangement is the result of a compromise between
Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and the Lansing Occupy movement, Mayfield said.
Occupy Lansing met with Bernero earlier this week to discuss the group’s winter
plans.


“This is what people are hoping is that the winter is going
to make us go,” Mayfield said. “None of the movements are going to go, it’s
just we’re trying to move forward and trying to keep people safe. The last
thing we want is for someone to freeze to death or someone to get sick.”


The camp in Reutter Park, which is
across from the headquarters and downtown branch of the Capital Area District
Library, at Capitol Avenue and Kalamazoo Street, will become the Lansing
movement’s base of operations, Mayfield continued. Many tents will be taken
down, but the General Assembly tent and the information tent will remain, as
well as a few tents for people to use when the group stays in the park during
the day.


“We’re not decamping, we are just not staying in the park
overnight anymore,” Mayfield said. “We’re still going to maintain our presence
down here from sunup to sundown, and we’re going to have a night watch at
night.”


Mayfield said community members have told them they feel
safer walking through the park with the group there, so a night watch will
remain in the area to help keep the park safe.


The group plans to occupy foreclosed homes in the area
overnight rather than sleep in the park, Mayfield said. About eight members
have continued to stay overnight in the park, despite the recent snowfall.


“You don’t know where we’re going to pop up next,” he said.


The group will also continue to have events and spread
information throughout the community during the daylight hours, Mayfield said.
Following the press conference, a group of occupiers headed to Leslie Street to
canvass the neighborhood and increase awareness of the movement. They will also
circulate a petition aimed at reversing the state’s emergency financial manger
law. Fun events are also being planned in the coming weeks, including a 99
percent vs. 1 percent volleyball game in front of the Capitol.


“We have our serious direct actions, but we also have our
fun direct actions that will get the community involved as well that kids can
come to,” he said.


Mayfield said he was not worried about being forced out of
the park by Bernero’s office.


“The mayor actually supports us, and that is a big thing,”
he said. “We’ve kept the park
clean, we’ve kept the park safe so I don’t see any reason why we can’t still
have some stuff down here. It’s not like we’re making the park an eyesore.”


Group member Ken Orlich agreed and said the Lansing movement
should be a model for the country because of the relationship they’ve had with
the mayor’s office and because of their non-violent presence.


“As long as we’re cool, the mayor’s cool,” Orlich said.


Even though both the Grand Rapids movement and the Detroit
movement decided not to continue camping during the winter, group member Edge
Brussel said those decisions would not affect Lansing’s arrangement.


“We’re very pleased with the compromise that was made with
the mayor,” she said. “It’s very generous and we’re very glad to still have our
presence and our face in the park so we’re not concerned about pulling out of
the park at all.”

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