Enunciate the Issues¶
Occupy Eugene believes that we have gathered at an historic moment. We bear witness to the fact that the American Dream is in peril; that the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest is wider than ever. We see everyday citizens struggling more than ever while corporations reap record profits and pay very little in taxes. We live in a country where the priorities have been focused upon serving the wants of the wealthiest few at the expense of the many. We maintain that the needs of the people will continue to suffer until this economic inequity is addressed and rectified.
We watch our neighbors lose their homes to foreclosure while the banks who hold those mortgages receive government bail outs. We watch as joblessness, homelessness, and poverty increase at the same time social services to address these issues are being slashed. On a local level, we believe that the economic inequities which have led us to Occupy equally affect both citizens and local government. We believe that our state and local governments have been economically victimized by the movement of capital away from their constituencies. We believe that government expenditures for privatization of formerly public services forces funding away from the lower levels of government. We believe that years of American military intervention have drained resources away from our schools and communities at a time when we need to educate our way out of the myriad of challenges we face.
We live in a country where the people have lost their voice in a democratic process hijacked by corporate interests. It is our duty as affected citizens to peacefully assemble, redress our grievances, and express our feelings of mass injustice. True democracy derives its power from the people, and this cannot be attained when the political process is determined by economic power. Our future as a society depends on, and requires, the cooperation of its members.
Occupy Eugene will create and exercise a direct democratic process to address the problems that we face both locally and as a nation. Through our efforts, we seek to generate and introduce solutions that are accessible to everyone who wishes to participate. We believe that Occupy Eugene and the City of Eugene can be partners in this endeavor.
In Washington/Jefferson Park, Occupy Eugene will create a space for education and process. We will invite experts from within our local community, from across the state, the nation, and the world to share their insight and talents with our community. At its best, Occupy Eugene will become a laboratory for change and cutting edge theory, where noted intellectuals will work side by side with all segments of our afflicted communities.
Occupy Eugene wishes to lead the Occupy Movement into the next level of discourse. In the Eugene Model, Occupy Eugene and the City of Eugene have shown that we can act from mutual interest. Occupy Eugene is heartened by the support of the City Council, the Eugene Police Department and the Office of the City Manager. We feel this model of interconnectedness can guide other cities and Occupations into a new, more unified campaign to address our common need.
In one month, Occupy Eugene has gone from its creation, to becoming one of the most dynamic homeless outreach programs in the history of the City of Eugene. We have hundreds of local volunteers. Our kitchen serves hundreds of meals a day. We have become a clearing house for warm clothes, bedding,and veterinary care. We also provide a safe place for people to sleep; a sleep that empowers people to think, act, and mobilize on their own. Occupy Eugene has accomplished this task through the direct participation of the citizens of Eugene and Springfield; and through our successful interface with local government. Occupy Eugene is a clearinghouse for active volunteers who are seeking to contribute toward economic justice and a vision for a more humane community under the banner of Occupy Eugene. Occupy Eugene intends to organize many volunteer projects in the upcoming months including environmental stewardship, neighborhood enhancement, and homeless empowerment
The Eugene Model can serve as an example for other cities, states, and even, the nation. At all levels of government, our goals are the same. Occupy Eugene is full of local patriots, exercising our right to peaceably assemble, working for the common good of our nation. In Washington/Jefferson Park, Occupy Eugene wishes to plant the seed that will grow into an eventual national consensus and a solution to the problems facing our nation. As one of our City Councilors recently stated, Occupy Eugene is an “experiment in democracy” and we believe that this experiment will be a platform for positive change in our community.
Right to Stay¶
Currently, Occupy Eugene is requesting the City Council to authorize another exemption from the Eugene camping ban and overnight park restrictions specific to the Washington/Jefferson Park location. The information provided below has been created in order to provide the public with information regarding the health and safety standards we are mandating at our protest location. We will continue to work with City and County officials to ensure these standards are met.
As winter draws near, the City does not have the resources or infrastructure to offer housing or shelter to the hundreds and thousands of homeless people that will be forced to live on the streets of Eugene this winter without support. The nonprofit organizations dedicated to this issue do not have the funding or resources to accomplish this task either. Many homeless people do not want to live at the Mission for many reasons. Occupy Eugene will strive to provide an alternative to the Mission, and as a result, will provide a centralized, legal place for homeless people to live and sleep if they are willing to engage with the Occupy Eugene movement. It is our hope that by providing this central place, many of the problems of homeless campers faced by various neighborhoods will be mitigated.
Of course Occupy Eugene cannot provide shelter for all of Eugene’s homeless. Those that are abusive, violent, sociopathic, or unwilling or unable to live by Occupy Eugene’s Community Agreements cannot be permitted to remain at our location. Although we heartily strive to be entirely self-sufficient, we may still call upon police to assist us in removing those individuals who persistently pose a safety and security concern to our members.
Site Organization and Specifics¶
General: As with other Occupations in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, we are gathered in a traditional public forum to exercise our First Amendment rights to gather and redress our grievances in symbolic protest. The Occupation site serves as a beacon for the 99%, functions as a classroom and volunteer recruitment center, and allows all walks of life to live together and learn about each others’ lives and challenges as part of our ongoing protest. Our provision of services to the homeless and disadvantaged is assisting the City in its efforts to do the same. There are no other competing uses with this park location, and because health and safety standards are being met, or will be met, there is no compelling governmental basis to discontinue this lawful, nonviolent protest. Occupy Eugene would like to build upon this partnership with the City and requests that water and electricity be provided at the site as soon as possible. We don’t ask for much, because we know the City is financially strapped, but we believe these requests are minor and necessary in light of our efforts.
Safety and security:
Occupy Eugene has trained Peacekeepers that provide security to our site 24 hours a day. We continue to build collaborative relationships with White Bird, Cahoots, and other social service agencies such as the Egan Warming Center, to improve our skills in dealing with the needs of homeless, mentally ill, and drug addicted individuals who access the site. We are also in the process of building a perimeter fence that will assist us in maintaining the safety of our members. Of critical need is access to electricity at the site to provide lights which will improve visibility and security.
In an effort to maintain a safe and respectful community, Occupy Eugene consensed upon the following safety guidelines on October 18, 2011.
Acting in solidarity with the Occupy Movement, we pledge to recognize our responsibility to our community, which means occasionally putting personal freedoms second for the safety and well-being of all.
- We are a weapons-free zone.
- We are nonviolent and we will not tolerate verbally aggressive or physically violent behavior, including unwanted touching.
- We pledge to resolve any conflicts that arise in a creative and nonviolent manner.
- In communal areas, no recreational drug or alcohol use. We recognize that a safe space is needed for card-carrying medical marijuana patients.
- We respect the rights and privacy of our fellow occupiers and our neighbors. We will not create unnecessary disturbances.
- Degrading ethnic, racist, classist, sexist, or homophobic remarks are not acceptable.
- We cannot permit open flames or other hazardous activities. We agree to direct all cigarette smoking to a designated location and will provide rain shelter for those who wish to smoke.
- We encourage everyone to follow health and sanitary recommendations throughout camp.
By entering Occupy Eugene, you agree to abide and uphold these guidelines.
Sanitation and Health:
Porta-potties and hand washing stations (including wheelchair accessible) have been brought to the site and are being cleaned on a daily basis. Access to water is needed right away for cooking, cleaning and washing. We hope to have shower units as soon as possible. Hygiene-related supplies and clothing have been donated and are available to those who need it. We are currently networking with Whiteaker residents who have offered use of their showers to Occupiers. We have a medical tent that is currently staffed during daytime hours by doctors, mental health professionals, naturopaths, nurses and herbalists. All medical supplies have been donated by local professionals. Electricity will enable the medical tent to stay open after dark, and our goal is to have the medical tent staffed 24 hours a day. Electricity will also aid in the use and monitoring of the porta-potties, which are currently not adequately lit after dark.
We have almost completed the construction of emergency vehicle lanes that will satisfy emergency vehicle requirements for the occupation. We are in the process of ensuring that 10’ wide road lanes throughout the camp will allow emergency and fire vehicles access to and through all areas of the camp if needed. We do not permit campfires or open flames (except for cooking food), and Occupiers regularly walk the site to ensure these standards are being upheld.
We are aware of the fact that there are minors camping with Occupy Eugene, and, like most parts of the City, there are many registered as well as non-registered sex offenders in this area. We are aware of these concerns as a movement, and we are being proactive in terms of safety issues, with community monitoring and awareness at the forefront. We plan on reaching out to Looking Glass in order to competently handle issues regarding runaway and homeless minors. We are providing Know Your Rights trainings to juveniles in order to provide them with information regarding the laws and services that may be applicable to them.
We are also considering reaching out to DHS regarding the minors at Occupy.
Occupy Eugene does not permit vehicles to park upon the Occupy site with very limited exceptions. There is currently a bus parked upon wooden blocks on park property underneath the viaduct that serves as an Education Center. Currently there are tools and other expensive implements that are being locked and stored within the Education Center bus. Upon access to electricity and extension of the City’s Wi-Fi network (currently extends less than a block away from the park), we plan to install computer work stations to provide classes, assistance with employment resumes and job searches, and other similar uses. We are asking for a vehicle exemption for this bus with the understanding that other vehicles may temporarily drive onto park property for the purposes of loading and/or unloading food, gear, infrastructure, or other supplies and will be timely removed.
Impact on neighborhood:
Occupy Eugene has been embraced by many neighbors since our recent arrival in Whiteaker neighborhood. Neighborhood participation, support and networking are increasing daily. We intend to be good neighbors, mindful of impacts and willing to address them with concerned residents and businesses and with the neighborhood association, Whiteaker Community Council.
Occupation organization. We recognize that we are doing something new and groundbreaking. Nearly all participants present at the site currently convene twice a day for meetings and discussions (open to the public). We look forward to continuing transparent communication with police and city officials. We have legal liaisons that are available 24 hours a day as a point of contact between Occupy Eugene and the City. A legal cellphone is staffed at all times as well. The cellphone number is 541-790-9137. We look forward to achieving the goal of making Eugene a model for the nation regarding broad and expansive protections for the Civil Rights and Liberties of its people via Occupy Eugene.