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Occupy Iowa City: Neighbors call protest 'disruptive'

BY RISHABH R. JAIN | OCTOBER 27, 2011 7:20 AM

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Iowa City residents living around College Green Park are mixed in their opinions about the ongoing Occupy Iowa City protest in their neighborhood.

The demonstration, now in its third week, has seen an influx of up to 60 protesters. On Wednesday, more than 20 tents dotted College Green, and, as of Monday, the group installed a sign proclaiming the protest's presence.

But many who live in the area said they stopped crossing through the park after people began living in it.

"Normally, I would hypotenuse through the park, and [the protest] is kind of roadblock in that sense, but apart from that, it isn't much of a concern" said Gregory Markus, a resident of 116 S. Dodge St.

While Markus said he doesn't necessarily have any complaints about the occupation of the park, another community member said she wants the protesters to "occupy somewhere else."

Anna Adams, a University of Iowa junior who lives near the park, recalled a confrontation she had with the protesters.

"On the day of the [UI's Homecoming] parade, there were two of them sitting right here on my steps," Adams said. "When I asked them who they were and what they were doing here, they said 'We're just occupying this spot.' "

Adams said she told them to leave, and they complied.

Iowa City police Sgt. David Droll said the department hasn't received any complaints from community members during his shift, but the Department of Parks and Recreation has handled most of the issues surrounding the protest.

Jordan Weber, Adams' neighbor, said she's simply been trying to ignore the protest.

Weber admitted she's noticed an increase in noise in the area — even on weeknights — as some protesters stay up all night talking. She said the protesters set off firecrackers one night, and some of her friends have refused to come to the house because of the protest.

And though some neighbors have blamed the noise and disruption on the protesters themselves, one occupier said the people who heckle the demonstrators are the ones creating the commotion.

"People are very mean and rude," said Ruth Lapointe, a UI junior camping at College Green. "You will be kept up all night by people yelling 'get a job' or 'you suck.' It's obnoxious."

But a common complaint is the lack of purpose among occupiers.

"Do you know what they want? Do they know what they want?" said Frank Riehl, who owns a house at 630 E. Washington St. "They are not causing any trouble, but they don't know what the solution to their problem is."

Riehl, who was a Vietnam War protester, said his peers had a clear goal — to escape the draft and put an end to the war.

Even Lapointe agreed the local movement is beginning to lack a purpose.

"It's not as much about the cause anymore than it is about us staying here. It feels like we're just playing camp right now," she said, adding she wishes the protesters were camping in Gibson Park, near the Main Library. "That would have given out a stronger message. In my opinion, we are not doing enough to cause a disturbance."

To UI senior Trent James, who lives near the park on Governor Street, the protest isn't disruptive, just a little annoying.

"They keep telling me about what they have going on and try to invite me over, and I don't want to discuss politics when I have better things like classes to worry about," he said.


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