More Occupy Vancouver events may be on way

Organizers will meet Tuesday for discussion

By Paris Achen and Ray Legendre

Published:

 

Cost to the city

The City of Vancouver spent about $3,700 in staff wages to plan and provide traffic control for the Occupy Vancouver nonviolent protest Saturday in downtown, according to the city’s payroll department.

Eight Vancouver police officers worked 44.25 overtime hours Saturday to provide traffic control for the event, said Kim Kapp, Vancouver police public information coordinator. Deployed on foot, bicycle and motorcycle, the officers guided traffic and kept watch as a procession of nearly 700 people marched downtown. The officers halted vehicles at intersections so that protesters could cross streets and patrolled along the procession by motorcycle to ensure marchers remained largely on sidewalks.

The overtime hours accounted for about $3,250 of the city’s cost, Kapp said. Planning hours prior to the event amounted to about $450, she said.

Meanwhile, the Vancouver Parks & Recreation Department received no negative reports about the condition or cleanliness of the park after the event, according to staff. When the protest concluded just before 3 p.m. Saturday, some Occupy Vancouver organizers combed through the park’s grass picking up cigarette butts and other litter and placing the items in black trash bags donated by demonstrators.

­­— Paris Achen

If you go

What: Occupy Vancouver organizing meeting.

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Where: Bandstand at Esther Short Park, 301 W. Eighth St.

Details: Occupy Vancouver or Facebook/Occupy Vancouver.

Three days after nearly 700 demonstrators took to downtown Vancouver’s streets to protest corporate power and greed, organizers will meet Tuesday to discuss the possibility of holding more Occupy Vancouver events.

“We are meeting to talk about what people want to do,” said organizer Stephanie Rotondo of Vancouver. “We hadn’t planned beyond Saturday. Now, we’ll be gathering ideas for how to move forward. I fully expect more events to come, but I don’t know what that will look like.”

Organizers plan to meet at 6 p.m. at the bandstand of Esther Short Park, 301 W. Eighth St.

Occupy Vancouver was one of 951 demonstrations worldwide Saturday calling for changes in political and economic policies that have favored large corporations and the wealthy while marginalizing the middle class, according to United for Global Change, the main site for organizing the protests that day.

That cities of Vancouver’s population size and smaller are now involved in the Occupy movement is somewhat unexpected, said David Olson, a University of Washington professor emeritus of political science. The movement that began Sept. 17 initially appeared confined to Manhattan but has steadily spread across the country in the past two or three weeks.

“This is a movement that is very unusual in America,” Olson said. “As far as we know, it’s leaderless, and it’s not spreading by an organization that is causing contagion.”

Turnout at Vancouver’s event surpassed organizers’ and city officials’ expectations. It was three times the number of Facebook members who indicated they would attend on Occupy Vancouver’s page, Facebook/Occupy Vancouver.

“It says the movement is gaining traction,” Rotondo said.

She said the energy generated from Saturday’s demonstration in Vancouver also built momentum for more events.

“We had a lot of people come and say they wanted to get more involved and wanted to help out in any way they could,” Rotondo said.

It is hard to predict the staying power of the Occupy movement nationally, Olson said. He predicted it would depend on the health of the economy. He compared the ongoing protests to those seen in the 1930s during the Great Depression.

“This is a very traumatic economic period,” Olson said. “This is what is causing the uprising.”

Occupy movements in smaller cities will likely fizzle out because they do not have the amount of people necessary to continue such a protest, said Robert Liebman, associate professor of sociology and urban studies and planning at Portland State University.

“It’s hard to sustain, especially outside bigger cities, because the smaller cities don’t have as many people self-identified to hold onto the tent camps,” he said.

The Occupy movement needs to zero in on the subject of its discontent and then form a powerful message around it, Liebman said. This could be the key, he added, to connecting with the people whom the economy is hurting most — unemployed students with crippling loan debt, jobless veterans and baby boomers facing uncertain retirement years.

“I don’t think they should become the ‘National Angry At Wall Street Movement’ and charge dues,” Liebman said of the Occupy movement. “They need a handful of powerful public events with a shared rhetoric that targets real targets.”

While Liebman suggested the movement’s long-term success hinged on its ability to convene massive events in metropolises like New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago, Olson noted it was “terribly important” that cities, regardless of size, hold their own events.

“It says that, at this particular moment, it is not isolated to Manhattan like New Yorkers originally speculated,” he said. “It says it’s not isolated to the two dozen or so major cities.”

Organizer Dan Walker of Vancouver debuted a website for the Vancouver movement on Oct. 8 at http://occupyvancouverusa.org/, 21 days after Occupy Wall Street began. Organizers, participants, supporters and detractors have been communicating there, as well as via Facebook and on Twitter using the #occupyvanwa hashtag.