Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday, November 29: Time to act to support Occupy OKC

According to a press release sent by Occupy OKC Outreach Moderator Beth Isbell,:
Despite police assuring us that OKC had no intention of evicting us on 11/28 at 2 of our past three General Assemblies, Occupy OKC received a letter from OKC Police Chief Bill Citty today doing exactly that - calling for our eviction if we did not vacate park & take all equipment by 11pm tonight!  We have attorneys helping us, including the National Lawyers Guild & the ACLU.  We tried to pay permit fees first thing today as instructed, but were called to meeting with police this afternoon & provided Chief's letter.  Our attorneys asked for more time & have asked for mediation.  We have been called to a meeting with Chief Citty tomorrow morning at 8:15am.  We do not know if they still intend to carry through on their eviction threat for tonight.  We are cooperating and attempting to avoid confrontation.
As a resident of Oklahoma City, I object to my city government acting to suppress the free speech rights of ordinary citizens. I decided to express my objections in an e-mail I just sent to Mayor Mick Cornett and to Ed Shadid, who represents me in the OKC City Council. Here is what I said:
Dear Mayor Cornett and Councillor Shadid:

I am writing to express my concern about the possible eviction by the city of the Occupy OKC encampment at Kerr Park. As a resident of City Council Ward 2 in Oklahoma City, I support the right of Occupy OKC to carry out its continuing peaceful protest in Kerr Park. I oppose any efforts by my city government to evict the occupiers.

The Occupy OKC encampment is a peaceful gathering of citizens using their First Amendment rights to work for political change. The occupiers have faithfully paid for a permit to stay in the park overnight. Recently, the occupiers have been told by City of Oklahoma City representatives that they would be permitted to remain in the park so long as they continued to pay the permit. Despite these reassurances, the occupiers received a letter from Police Chief Bill Citty warning them that they needed to evacuate. This eviction notice seems to be a clear attempt by city officials to suppress the expression of ideas they don't like. This is not how a free society is supposed to work.

Citizen involvement in OKC's city government is shockingly low. City Council meetings are held at a time when most ordinary working people can't attend. Extremely few people even bother to vote in city elections, probably because they think it won't make any difference in the way things are done. This has long a city government by the Chamber of Commerce and for the Chamber of Commerce, and the needs of average citizens are most often ignored. The Occupy movement's presence in Kerr Park is a constructive first step toward ordinary people learning to take back their own city government. Such citizen involvement should be encouraged and not stifled.

Again, I urge you to do everything in your power as elected officials to make sure that Occupy OKC is permitted to remain in Kerr Park. Please let me know what action you will take on this issue.

Elizabeth G. "Betsy" Brown
I encourage other supporters of Occupy OKC -- especially OKC residents -- to contact Oklahoma City's elected representatives to express your support in your own words. You can find contact information for Oklahoma City's elected officials here. If you don't know which city council ward you live in, you can find that information on this ward map. Occupiers are also calling for supporters to gather at Kerr Park to support them. For more information, you can see the Facebook page for Occupy OKC Official, or visit the Web site.

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