Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Occupy Group Sets Up Camp in Easton Again

By Christina Georgiou

Local members of the Occupy movement have set up camp in Easton again, saying they want to raise awareness of various injustices in American society and give others the opportunity to protest injustices.

Particularly targeted by the group seems to be income inequality, though Occupier Dave Gorczynski said anyone is welcome to protest anything.

Genetically modified organisisms (GMOs), fracking, gas and oil pipelines, American involvement in overseas wars, the militarization of police, and the destruction of civil liberties are all major concerns of the group, which is no longer using the name "Occupy Easton" but has been networking under the hashtag "Occupy the Planet".

"There's countless other problems," Gorczynski said. "But they all have the same origins--the elitist one percent."

Gorczynski said some of the issues the group wants to bring more awareness of are old problems, but people allow them to continue regardless of how illogical they are.

Using international disputes that lead to wars Americans end up fighting in as an example, he said, "Ask the average person, 'would you personally be willing to die in a war?' And it's always, 'no, optimally, I'd rather not die in a war.' So why are we still fighting?"

While there are currently about eight people with the group, more are expected to arrive shortly, some from as far away as Ohio, Vermont, and Colorado, he said. The dropping of the name "Occupy Easton" is related to that, he added.

"We felt it would be wrong to call it 'Occupy Easton'. Yes, it does have members from Occupy Easton, but it was others too," Gorczynski said.

The others present Tuesday evening declined to chat on the record, deferring to Gorczynski to speak for the group, but all agreed the movement is about giving people a more equal voice in the things that directly affect their lives.

"We want more opinions. We want as many perspectives as possible," one said.

Originally landing on the Centre Square last Friday, the group was ordered to move by city police over the weekend. It is unclear whether they were directed to their current location on North Fourth Street, a spot they used during protests last year, or whether they chose that location themselves.

"The police were extremely friendly, more so than we expected," Gorczynski said. "City workers too."

The city had formerly permitted the group to stay on the narrow strip of grass between two city-owned parking lots.

Whether the group will be permitted to continue to camp on the city property this time is uncertain, however.

"They can't stay on the mulch," Mayor Sal Panto said. "That's where flowers go."

The mayor said while the Occupiers have a right to free speech, the city intends to enforce local ordinances pertaining to parks, which close from dust to dawn daily.

"I believe the rules are for everyone," he said.

While the Occupy group has been cooperative with local authorities, being moved again based on park rules seems somewhat ironic in the face of their stated values.

"We do not believe in imaginary lines and borders," said one. "We believe in everyone."

The peaceful protesting group intends to stay as long as they can in their current location, they said.

A "General Assembly", a meeting of all interested people, each of which is allowed to speak and give their opinions on any matter, is scheduled on the site, on North Fourth Street, just north of Church Street, for this evening at 8 p.m. Members of the public are invited to attend.

Gorczynski is hopeful for a crowd.

"The amount of community support has been amazing," he said. "I think it's the perfect time to occupy."

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