Long-term encampment begins in the face of adversity
by Christopher Livingston
Occupy Coachella Valley has expanded, staging a long-term encampment of Palm Desert’s Civic Center Park.
The occupation, which began on October 24, is still in a preliminary stage, according to activist and participant Carol Bouldin. “We are still brand new,” said Bouldin. “I think we need to give it a chance to find its voice and gain ground.” Bouldin, a 35-year activist from Yucaipa who participated in movements such as the Green Party movement and Occupy Redlands, first heard about Occupy Coachella Valley through word-of-mouth.
The City of Palm Desert issued a permit to the protesters, allowing them to protest in the park. There, the occupiers have established an encampment base and have spread their word through other forms of media, such as Ustream.
When asked if there was a particular leader of Occupy Coachella Valley, Bouldin said that it was a “leaderless movement.”
“We are working in a tandem – in solidarity,” she said.
The movement first started with a series of protests in Palm Springs, Palm Desert and Indio throughout the month of October. Each of the protests were only a few hours long , and were rallies staged at intersections such as Monterey Avenue and Fred Waring Drive in Palm Desert.
“I am happy to see young people awake,” said Carolyn Krause, another occupant. “I hope they stay awake.”
Palm Desert’s peaceful demonstration differs from the protests going on in Oakland and Atlanta, which has seen police activity.
On October 25 in Oakland, protesters and police clashed as police declared an unlawful assembly near Broadway. Tear gas was used by police during the clash, as police stated the protesters fired paint and other objects at them. More than 100 protesters were arrested by the end of the night. 85 arrests took place at the Frank Ogawa Plaza at City Hall. “We were in a position where we had to deploy gas in order to stop the crowd and people from pelting us with bottles and rocks,” said Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan.
Iraq Veterans Against the War reported that former Marine Scott Olsen suffered a skull fracture after being hit in the head by a tear gas canister. Olsen was reportedly marching back towards City Hall after police cleared out the encampment there.
In Atlanta, police arrested 52 protesters in Woodruff Park after numerous warnings to leave the park. Occupy Atlanta, which has been going on for two weeks, has been costly for the city of Atlanta — nearly $300,000, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Police arrived at the park around 8 p.m. on October 25, as they blocked off the perimeter of Woodruff Park along Park Place NE. Nearly four hours later, it was announced that the executive order allowing the protesters to remain in the park had been taken away. As more warnings were issued, protesters refused to leave the park, banging drums and chanting in unison to drown out the police.
At 12:45 a.m., officers began arresting protesters. The arrests generally were peaceful, but some protesters had to be dragged out. By 2 a.m., Woodruff Park was empty, although a police presence remained.
By 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 26, protesters in custody were released.