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Occupy Iowa City is not going away

BY SARAH DAMSKY | OCTOBER 17, 2011 7:20 AM

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It's Oct. 14, and at least 15 more tents have been propped up on the grounds of College Green Park, the home of Occupy Iowa City, since Monday. It's my first night sleeping at the occupation, but I have been to the home base before to participate in general-assembly and committee meetings, introduce myself to other protesters, and set up a little sleeping space of my own.

That night, the general assembly meeting lasts for more than two hours. We speak of divesting from corporate banks, of generators that might be brought into the park to provide electricity, of educational programs and future protests. When the general-assembly meeting breaks, we gather into committees, and I sit in on media. The woman running the media committee sits with a clipboard and introduces herself. Around the circle it goes. There are men from New York who long to be home, in the center of the revolution, students from Kirkwood Community College and University of Iowa, college graduates now working in the corporate business world, and a child wearing pajamas. We speak about our sponsors and supporters and how we want to acknowledge them in the College Green area. We write proposals to read aloud at the next day's general-assembly meeting.

When it is finally time to go to bed, I lay my sleeping bag down on a tarp. This is the first time I have slept outside in quite a while, and as cliché as it sounds, it is definitely nice to have a chance to sleep under the stars again. I lie next to a friend who has a headlamp and read Matthea Harvey.

Breakfast is provided by the Occupation, and conversation is abundant among the protesters. Even though it's pretty early (many of us woke with the rising sun), we still manage to be an energetic, lively group.

As I walk home from the park in the early morning with my sleeping-bag, someone rolls down the window and screams at me, "I hope you die, you fucking hippie."

I am more surprised than angry, but I still stop walking and sit on a bench for a while. The Occupation is a peaceful movement. We protest and host demonstrations; we do not illicit violence. We are respectful of Iowa City, of College Green Park, and of the police. Any hate from the Iowa City population, such as what I received, seems uncalled for. As I watch him drive away and make a right on Clinton, I think to myself that his words did not intimidate me, but rather made me want to take on a bigger role at the Occupation.

People ask me on a daily basis if they think that what I am doing is worth it. If the Occupation will be at all successful, if we are organized at College Green Park, if we have a cogent list of demands. While my view may be biased (as well as informed), I can tell you, yes.

Every night at the general-assembly meetings, Occupy Iowa City reaches definitive conclusions about several issues revolving around everything from park security to in-group education. We are creating lists of demands and goals and work on a daily basis to refine them. I do not know if we will accomplish all of the goals we have set for ourselves, but I can tell you with full confidence that the sheer number of people the Occupation has educated, through news coverage and outreach programs, we will, in one way or another, be successful. Hundreds of thousands of Americans now know about the 99 percent, and we are only going to continue to grow.

We are not going to go away.


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