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The diverse and growing group of protesters that make up Occupy SLC an offshoot of New York City's Occupy Wall Street movement will vote Friday on future strategy and a possible relocation from downtown Pioneer Park.
Alexandra Fabela, 23, who works two jobs and said her own family has been profoundly affected by the economic downturn, helped launch Occupy SLC and believes that some of the group's original focus has drifted off course.
"We need to be more proactive in the political realm without being involved in politics," Fabela said.
Other occupiers have expressed similar frustration and some have begun to "occupy the fed" by having a more frequent presence in front of the Federal Reserve Bank at 100 South and State Street. Occupiers object to federal bailouts for banks and corporations without corresponding help for people who have lost jobs and homes.
Skyler Hawk, 22, stayed overnight there recently with several protesters and said that further changes are being discussed to maximize Occupy SLC's impact.
"Pioneer Park was perfect in the beginning," Hawk said. "Now we're determining whether to relocate or reconstruct what we already have."
Members plan to vote on proposals at their 7:30 p.m. general assembly session.
"We are exploring alternatives," said Occupy SLC spokesman William Rutledge, "because of situations that have arisen in the park."
Since the occupation began two weeks ago, a culture clash has played out between middle-class protesters and the park's homeless inhabitants struggling to survive.
Russell Fotter, an in-home health care provider who mans the camp's medical tent each night, said that fights and other major incidents have begun to taper off.
"People are starting to come together and hold conversations that are meaningful," Fotter said,
Holladay resident Shelby W., 19, has also been with Occupy SLC since its start. The part-time college student and retail worker said she is encouraged by what she's experienced by camping in the park.
"Some of the people here don't have places to go," Shelby W. said, adding that she didn't want to abandon them. However, she acknowledged being torn about moving the camp elsewhere.
"I don't want to feel like we're leaving here because of some silly fear we've made up in our heads," Shelby W. said. "But I think it would also be a good thing. By moving we would open ourselves up to a different community. … If we did the right steps, we could make this last even longer."
Changes in the works?
This Friday at their 7:30 p.m. general assembly meeting in Pioneer Park, Occupy SLC members will discuss and vote on options that could involve relocation.