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Occupy SLC protesters rally at police station

Published November 14, 2011 10:03 am

A day after eviction from park, they stage rally and accuse mayor of violating their rights.
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Dozens of Occupy SLC protesters chanted and sang their way through downtown Salt Lake City Sunday afternoon, a day after police forced them to vacate their camp at Pioneer Park.

Protesters circled City Hall and stopped in front of the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building, 315 E. 200 South. On Saturday night, they had cleared out of Pioneer Park, where they had camped for 38 days. City leaders made the decision to prohibit overnight camping after a man died in his tent from an apparent combination of carbon monoxide poisoning and drug overdose on Friday.

Autopsy results are pending.

Sunday's rally was staged to "express our regret that the mayor has violated our civil rights — the right to assembly," said 30-year-old Jesse Fruhwirth, who was one of at least 13 people arrested Saturday night on charges including violating park curfew, trespass and camping or sleeping in the park, according to Salt Lake County Jail records. He and most of his fellow protesters were released before midnight without having to post bonds.

"We got out in time to buy a beer," Fruhwirth quipped.

Three people did have to post bonds, although Sunday's protesters were not sure why. Only one had a previous criminal record, for cohabitant abuse.

Michael Alan Wilson, 25, was among those who had to post a $100 bond in order to get out of jail. He had no previous record but was booked on resisting arrest and interfering with a police officer.

He was helping Fruhwirth erect a tent after police told them to stop or be arrested. Fruhwirth was arrested first, and a few moments later, Wilson was, too.

"I stood up and put my hands behind my back. They handcuffed me and led me away," he said. "I don't know where those charges came from."

It was unclear where many of the protesters who were not jailed spent the night. Employees with Volunteers of America helped campers clean up, and The Road Home shelter opened early. Attempts to reach The Road Home were unsuccessful Sunday.

One homeless advocate, John Netto, advised campers during the sweep that two trucks and two limousines would be arriving to transfer their belongings to his Murray warehouse. One limo was used to transport six people to the Occupy Ogden camp.

Police called the conditions at the camp "deplorable," with several tents containing urine, feces and soiled toilet paper as some people apparently used their sleeping areas as bathrooms.

Justin Kramer, a University of Utah student and protester, said he never personally witnessed such conditions at the camp.

"We were bleaching down the bathroom three times a day," he said.

He attended the rally Sunday to show that the Occupy Salt Lake movement is not dead. "This is not over by any means," he said.

He wants protesters to show up at Mayor Ralph Becker's news conferences to interfere with Becker's right to free speech the same way Becker has interfered with his rights, Kramer said.

However, the movement as a whole has not endorsed any specific ideas about where to go from here.

Occupier Tara Bueche said the group is still working on a plan of action after meeting Sunday afternoon. This week a daily street theater performance will go as planned at the Gallivan Center. The group also will go to the Salt Lake City-County Building on Tuesday to speak to City Council members during their meeting, Bueche said.

As protesters congregated around the police station Sunday, they sang union songs and chanted, saying they wanted the authorities to stand with them, not against them.

"We are fully committed as a department to protecting each person's individual right to express and peaceably to assemble, and we strive to protect those rights," said Lt. Josh Scharman. "They're welcome to express themselves. We've appreciated their cooperation."

Protesters still have tents set up at the Gallivan Center where they can take shelter from the weather and store supplies but can't sleep in overnight, Fruhwirth said. Day-use tents also are still allowed at Pioneer Park.

Shena Switzer has been following media coverage of the movement but didn't come out to support the protesters until she saw the arrests Saturday night.

"I wanted to show that we aren't going to stand by and be treated like this," she said.

Jes Clark brought her 7-year-old daughter, Mickey, to Sunday's rally. The stay-at-home mom has been bringing food and money donations to the campers, she said.

"We aren't asking for handouts, we're asking for equality," she said. "We want a better future for our kids with access to education and health care."

Victor Puertas, a student at Utah Valley University, said he joined the movement because he was tired of government corruption, corporate influence and immigration policies he doesn't support.

"I hope people join in solidarity with us," he said. "I hope people join us to tell the authorities of this city that they are not going to affect us in any way but make us stronger."

Roxana Orellana contributed to this report.

smcfarland@sltrib.com Twitter: @sheena5427 —

Police action around the U.S.

St. Louis • About two dozen Occupy protesters at Kiener Plaza in downtown St. Louis were arrested Saturday for failing to comply with a city order to leave the park overnight.

Portland, Ore. • Several hundred protesters, some wearing goggles and gas masks, marched past authorities in a downtown street Sunday, hours after riot police drove Occupy Portland demonstrators out of a pair of weeks-old encampments in nearby parks. Police moved in shortly before noon and drove protesters into the street after dozens remained in the camp in defiance of city officials. Mayor Sam Adams had ordered that the camp shut down Saturday at midnight, citing unhealthy conditions and the encampment's attraction of drug users and thieves.

Albany, N.Y. • Two dozen Occupy Albany protesters who defied an 11 p.m. curfew in a state-owned park were arrested, authorities said. State police officials hauled away the protesters late Saturday night after warning them with megaphones that they were breaking the law in Lafayette Park. They were charged with trespassing.

Source: The Associated Press






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