Scenes & voices from Occupy Iowa City
IOWA CITY — At a table filled with pamphlets, two younger demonstrators explained their reasons for wanting to occupy an Iowa City park to a middle-aged man. Snippets of the conversation mixed with another demonstrator’s guitar playing and singing.
“The bailout wasn’t just one party or the other … it was both. They both did it.”
“… more smart phones than leaders in this land … ”
“The current system, it’s stacked against most Americans.”
“… We can launch a guided missile … “
Sitting away from the larger group, under a tree, a young man is surrounded with books, mostly sociology, and taking notes in a spiral notebook. Three or four young men chase a Frisbee for several minutes, then collapse onto the ground as their hands provide hints of a pointed conversation.
A handful of people have gathered in a makeshift kitchen area and have begun planning an evening meal. There’s a wish list in this structure, and also a list to thank those who have already donated. A few others are sitting around a radio, listening the the Iowa Hawkeyes battle Penn State. When the game breaks for halftime, a few shuffle off to find bathrooms and food. A few children play on the nearby playground, and a couple of dogs lounge in the sun, their tongues flicking against the grass.
As far as active demonstrating goes, there isn’t much happening. Several signs, once held as the group entered the park, are now sitting on the grass around the site. A few work on new signs, and a statement of intent has been developed and posted. Chalk art marks the sidewalk, announcing that this is “Occupy Iowa City” and that all are welcome.
Toward the center of the site, there’s a medical station, a place designated as a “teeth cleaning station,” a poster providing addresses to nearby bathrooms that have been offered for participant use and a medium-sized bulletin board labeled with “My name is … and I want …” Colorful index cards have been tacked onto the board with statements of what is wanted. Others can use push pins to signal their approval of the statement. There’s also a larger blackboard with notes and statements. Anyone who wishes to do so can pick up a piece of chalk and add their thoughts to the mix.
“We’re not trying to flag down cars or screaming or yelling,” a middle-aged woman explains to another who has come to investigate the movement. “There might be some planned activities later, but mostly we just want to be here; to make a stand in solidarity that there is something wrong. We want to bring awareness. We want to call attention to the inequality. We want people to know that we are here, and that we want things to change.”
The curious woman is told that she isn’t required to camp overnight — isn’t required to do anything. She can come in the afternoons and sit and read a book. She can partake of as much or as little of what’s happening as she desires.
Similar to other demonstrations taking place throughout the nation, the Iowa City group has no plan on how or when to exit College Green Park. Participants continue to hold loose organizational meetings to discuss their wants and demands and to deal with the basic logistics of occupying a park 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They understand that warm, quiet days like this one are limited, and that winter will soon make their task much more difficult. They also understand that some believe them to be a bit radical or foolish for what they are doing. Participants don’t place much stock in those types of comments, and don’t overly concern themselves with what might happen next week or next month.
“I’ll be here. You come back at 3 a.m. and I’ll be here. You come at noon and I’ll be here. I’m staying here because being here I feel for the first time in my life that I’m standing up for myself and making a big difference for everyone who is just an everyday American like me.”
More Iowans will gather today near the State Capitol in Des Moines to discuss their plans to occupy a portion of that community and coordinate the state effort. In addition to Des Moines and Iowa City, the occupy movement is underway in Fairfield, Mason City, Dubuque, Cedar Falls, Ames and Cedar Rapids.
Iowa City’s Occupy Wall Street Group May Face Showdown With Police
An Iowa City occupation protest is planned to begin Friday at College Green Park. More than 100 people showed up for a planning meeting on Wednesday to develop the plans. The goal is to sustain the occupation for an indefinite period of time
By B.A. Morelli
The Associated Pressis reporting that participants in the Occupy Iowa City demonstration may face citations if they do not vacate when College Green Park closes at 11 p.m.
The occupation is set to begin at 6 p.m. on Friday and continue indefinitely.
Police said participants could avoid fines if they get proper permission through the city, but organizers say they do not plan to do so, according to the AP.
During a meeting on Wednesday evening, potential participants said they planned a peaceful demonstration and were not necessarily looking for confrontation, but seemed to acknowledge the possibility.
“Things could get very bad, and we need to realize that,” said Amy Hart, 24, of Durant, who plans to participate in the demonstration with her 3-year-old daughter.
The issues underlying the Occupy Wall Street movement – greed, excess and corruption – are not confined to New York City, say a diverse mix of people who plan to launch a lengthy protest in Iowa City as a show of solidarity.
Organized under the banner Occupy Iowa City, a group of residents, students and others plan to stage in College Green Park beginning Friday afternoon and stay there for, well, let’s just say they didn’t make plans for breaking camp. The start will coincide with a peace march to end the war in Afghanistan.
“I am young. I am part of the youth. What happens in the next five years will determine how I live my life. It would be hypocritical of me to bemoan from the couch rather than get off my (butt),” said Jared Krauss, 21, a University of Iowa junior.
Advertised mainly through Facebook and word of mouth, more than 100 people crammed into a public gather space called Public Space One in the basement of the Jefferson Building on Wednesday evening to hatch the plans.
“My family came here ready to occupy tonight,” said Amy Hart, 24, of Durant, who attended the meeting with groceries and her 3-year-old daughter, Baie, who was toting a princess backpack.
They discussed location, timing and developing an Internet presence, practical needs such as shelter, bathrooms and food, and contingency plans, such as having a lawyer present at all times, developing liaisons with police and policing themselves to prevent unruly behavior.
The group hopes to build numbers and work in shifts to keep the momentum growing and going. Hart, for example, intends to keep her schedule as a full-time student. Members of student and worker union attended the meeting and indicated they wanted to lend support, which mirrors what is happening in New York.
David Goodner, an activist who lives in Des Moines and has been involved in numerous demonstrations, said he expects the steps taken in Iowa City on Wednesday will embolden similar through the state, such as in Des Moines, Fairfield and Mason City.
“What you guys decided here tonight will give incredible momentum to the other movements around the state,” he said.
They plan to hold a second general assembly at 7 p.m., Thursday evening at College Green.