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October 19, 2011

5

The Occupation of Lincoln expands

by Deena Winter

This artsy lean-to protected Occupy Lincoln organizer Charles Holm from the elements on Tuesday night.

This afternoon I talked to the artist who made this — we’ll call it an artistic lean-to — that is outside the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s journalism school, as he began setting up a second tent next to it as the Occupation of Lincoln expanded north from its home a couple blocks away on Centennial Mall.

The artist responsible for this art on plywood wore sideburns, aviator sunglasses and a red and white striped shirt as he began assembling a second tent next to his artsy shelter. He said his name was Troy Davis, but seemed so reluctant to divulge that information I cannot be sure of it. On the inside of the lean-to is a picture of Che Guevara, the Argentine doctor who worked to emancipate the poor and has become a ubiquitous symbol of unyielding resistance.

“I just do art to make the world a better place,” Troy said.

Also working to expand the Occupation was a young man who said his name is Charles Holm. He graduated from UNL two years ago and has struggled to parlay his degree in international studies into a job. He worked for the AFSCME (union that represents public workers) in another state for awhile but returned to Lincoln and now works as a barback (bartender’s assistant). Holm has helped organize Lincoln’s version of the Wall Street Occupation, and said there are now about 60 people on the mall — 30 to 40 of them campers willing to brave the elements. He said they have nightly meetings in their camp, but they’re thinking about moving that meeting to the capitol steps to make more of a statement.

He said many of the protesters are college students, people who work downtown and a couple of families. He said the group is trying to get more students to join the protest (hence, the creep toward campus).

They serve three square meals a day, and yes, some homeless people have been partaking in the free food. He said the protestors went to the local food bank to get blankets for the homeless and when they saw how barren the shelves were, they decided to try to help raise funds for the bank. So far, the city hasn’t hassled them about camping out on the mall.

An artist named Troy Davis set this up near the UNL J School. Che Guevara is depicted on the inside wall.

That’s because city officials can’t find anything illegal about what they’re doing: Centennial Mall is not a park. When it was converted from a street to a mall, it remained a right-of-way, so it’s a public space with no closing hours. Mayor Chris Beutler told radio show hosts Jack & John that the camping protests are a concern, but the city can’t really do anything about it without infringing upon their free speech rights.

Beutler indicated the law “needs further refinement” — but indicated that won’t be done right now, because it would be seen as targeting this protest. One caller questioned the legality of serving three meals a day without any permits, and the mayor said he’d look into that. The caller also questioned where the protesters are, uh, relieving themselves.

To which the mayor said, “You raise pertinent issues.”

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5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Matthew Platte
    Oct 19 2011

    I am Troy Davis. Google it.

    Reply
  2. cs
    Oct 19 2011

    Most hikers, free climbers and campers know how to leave no trace. It’s not that difficult. Their food needs are probably pretty simple, too, and since they aren’t charging for food there probably isn’t much that can be done-unless you want the local Dept. of Health sticking their nose into your picnic the next time you decide to go to a local park.

    Reply
  3. Roberta
    Oct 20 2011

    So if you can’t protest there where can one protest. We all have our rights and most of us pay our taxes to have that right. Some of us even fought in a war for those rights.

    Reply
  4. Daqve Fall
    Oct 20 2011

    This is no tea party. These people are amazingly well informed.They are correct Just look at our Local Government.. The County Board wanted to build a Jail so it went on a ballot. It was defeated and they said they did not care how we voted they built it any way. They wanted to sell the Manor and the community said no so they built it anyway They have now remodeled the court house interiors to include a Guinness book of World records Counter wrapping around the complete interior of the building This keeps you out and them in.When free access used to be the requirement. What are they doing to fear us so much. It is ludicrous

    About that arena thing. Oh yeah it is not discussed in polite company in Lincoln. But it is still the mess waiting to happen..City holds a meeting with people to tell them they do not care what the people think they will build a round about any way..14th &Superior ?Hopefully no one ends up getting hurt Lincoln does not want to know but they have only one locally owned bank. The rest are all wholly or partially owned subsidiaries of the New York/ Atlanta banking system.A couple slight of hand tricks and before we knew it good old Lincoln has mortgages
    called a part of toxic instruments.

    Leave the protest alone so the people can come together and clean up the messes.!!

    Reply
  5. Roberta
    Oct 20 2011

    Hay, just a thought, those people are bringing jobs here. Someone will have to clean up the mess they leave. It will be a blighted area so we can use TIF money

    Reply

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