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Occupy Iowa City: One month later, no plans to end demonstration

BY MATT STARNS | NOVEMBER 07, 2011 7:20 AM

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One month after protesters took to College Green Park in alliance with the Occupy Wall Street movement, members say support for the local movement is increasing, and they aren't going anywhere.

"I think there are a lot more people participating than there were initially," said Outreach Committee member Eva Roethler, noting there are more than 2,500 people following the Facebook page for Occupy Iowa City.

Roethler and other protesters maintain they will occupy indefinitely, saying they won't leave College Green Park any time in the near future.

Brian Flanagan, a local writer participating in the protest, said the group won't move any time soon.

"I think there's a general recognition that the issues we're facing are large and ingrained and are going to take a steady effort to redress," he said.

But there have been several accusations by the community that Occupy Iowa City has recently concentrated more on conflicts with city officials than on their original purpose, to effect social change.

Roethler said the movement in Iowa City has received some criticism because of its recent battle to continue occupying the park and permit specifications with the Iowa City Parks and Recreation Department.

She said protesters had conflicts with the permit granted to them by the city, citing differences between the copy they signed and the permit received.

With permit issues settled, protesters say they intend to continue with their original intent.

"Now that that's been settled, we are focusing as much of our efforts as possible on doing things that are going to counter the issues we see on a political and economic level," Roethler said. "We want to start tackling those injustices that brought us all together in the first place."

Roethler said one of the actions Occupy protesters are planning on is an occupation of Des Moines during the Iowa caucuses.

Lisa Bonar, a 44-year-old member of the group, said the protesters' winter infrastructure won't be fully established until temperatures drop further.

"We'll probably need to do more," she said. "Because we have to move everything every four days until the ground freezes, it's hard to get a concrete idea of what it's going to look like."

Roethler said many protesters have purchased Arctic camping gear in preparation for the Iowa winter.

"… it's going to be difficult regardless, but we expect to make it through the winter," Roethler said.


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