Occupy movements celebrate Thanksgiving
Posted: Friday, November 25, 2011 8:02 pm
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Anti-Wall Street demonstrators in encampments around the country spent Thanksgiving serving turkey, donating time in solidarity with the protest movement and, in some cases, confronting police.
In San Francisco, 400 occupiers at a plaza in the financial district were served traditional Thanksgiving fixings sent by the renowned Glide Memorial Church to volunteers and supporters of the movement fighting social and economic inequality.
“We are thankful that we are, first and foremost, in a country where we can protest,” said the Rev. Cecil Williams, the founder of Glide and a fixture in the city’s activist community. “And we are thankful that we believe that there are things that could be worked out and that we have a sense of hope. But we know that hope only comes when you make a stand.”
While things were peaceful in San Francisco, the situation became heated in Oakland where police say a truck driver tried to deliver a portable rest room to protesters at Frank Ogawa Plaza. When officers ordered the driver to leave because he had no permit, police and about 150 protesters squared off, according to police spokeswoman Johnna Watson.
One person was arrested, Watson said.
In New York, a squabble erupted when police ordered a halt to drumming by protesters at an otherwise traditional holiday meal.
About 500 protesters were digging into donated turkey and trimmings at lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park when police told a drummer to drop playing.
About 200 protesters surrounded a group of about 30 officers and began shouting in the park where the Occupy movement was launched Sept. 17.
“Why don’t you arrest the drummers in the Thanksgiving parade?” a protester hollered.
A van rolled up with more officers, but they stayed back as protesters eventually decided to call off the drumming and return to their food. Tensions have run high at the park since campers were evicted Nov. 15.
In San Diego, four Occupy protesters were arrested between midnight and 2 a.m. Thursday at an encampment at the City’s Civic Center Plaza, said Officer David Stafford. Three were taken into custody for sleeping overnight in public, while the fourth was arrested for spitting on an officer, Stafford said.
Demonstrators nationwide say they are protesting corporate greed and the concentration of wealth in the upper 1 percent of the American population.
The movement was triggered by the high rate of unemployment and foreclosures, as well as the growing perception that big banks and corporations are not paying their fair share of taxes, yet are taking in huge bonuses while most Americans have seen their incomes drop.
In upstate New York, Danny Cashman, 25, an Afghanistan war veteran who works for a company that resells cellphones, said he sleeps at least three nights a week at an encampment in Rochester to show his solidarity with the movement.
“For today, this is my family,” Cashman said as he dug into a chicken dinner at the 35-tent encampment in tiny Washington Square Park. “We have a great brotherhood, great friends, a great community.”
In Los Angeles, where more than 480 tents have been erected on the lawns of City Hall, activist Teri Adaju, 46, said she typically serves dinner to homeless people on Thanksgiving and knows that many at the Los Angeles encampment were just that.
Still, she added, “Every-body’s in good cheer.”
In Las Vegas, Occupy protesters had a potluck meal at their campsite near the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Organizer Sebring Frehner said he was happy to skip his traditional meal at home.
“Instead of hunkering down with five or six close individuals in your home, people you probably see all of the time anyway, you are celebrating Thanksgiving with many different families — kind of like the original Thanksgiving,” Frehner said.
Trisha Carr, 35, spent her holiday at the Occupy encampment at City Hall in Philadelphia. She has been out of work for more than two years and lost her car and home. She’s been living in an Occupy tent for two weeks.
“Some days are harder than others,” she said.
The sunny, crisp weather Thursday put her in a good mood, and she watched the annual Thanksgiving parade before coming back to the encampment for a plate full of turkey and fixings.
Carr said her job search has been fruitless, and the government needs to do more to help people like her.
“I had the benefits, I had money in my pocket, I had health care — I had it all,” Carr said. “There should be no reason why people aren’t working.”
Associated Press writers Kathy Matheson in Philadelphia; Chris Hawley in New York; Ben Dobbin in Rochester, N.Y; Alicia Chang in Los Angeles; and Cristina Silva in Las Vegas contributed to this report.
Published in The Messenger 11.25.11