December 21 Statement to Ithaca Board of Public Works

21 Dec

Today, the Ithaca Occupation is celebrating our 1-month anniversary.  A small but dedicated group has slept in the park, night after night despite cold and rain.  We have fed the hungry and housed the homeless.  We have even assisted one of our members to find employment.  We have spent the days talking with neighbors, supporters, curiosity seekers and critics alike and raised issues of extreme importance with our words and our signs, issues that affect us on both a local and national level. We have had regular General Assemblies to plan our actions by consensus.  We have staged teach-ins to educate each other on important issues; we have staged rallies and direct actions.  We have demonstrated our ongoing opposition the wars.  We shined light on American Consumerism on Black Friday, We spoke out against Fracking in Binghamton, Ithaca and Enfield.  We raised awareness about provisions in the NDAA which would suspend our right to detention without trial and allow the military to declare the US homeland a battlefield and we have celebrated Bill of Rights Day at a time when we may be about to loose those time honored rights.  We have attended actions and paid visits to many other occupations around the state and across the country.   These dedicated individuals should be commended for their dedication and willingness to set aside personal comfort for the greater good of our community and our country.

For one month we have communicated with our neighbors and the community at large.  We have taken criticisms to heart and are evolving our strategies and methods in order to better serve our community.  We have negotiated with the City of Ithaca, in an effort to legally legitimize our 24-hour protest, have attended many meetings and attempted to work within the bureaucratic system to try to find common ground with the city.  This has been a time consuming and at times very frustrating process for both sides.   Both sides have continued to express a desire for cooperation and by our actions we seek to honor that sentiment.  We especially look forward to working with the next administration to begin addressing specific issues of importance to the 99%.  We would like to thank all of the dedicated individuals within city government who have spoken on our behalf and tried to help us navigate through this process.  We would also like to thank our many supporters throughout the community who took the time to make a phone call, attend a meeting or send a letter to the City expressing support for our continued occupation.

If we are to succeed as a movement we must continue to push the envelope, while also being flexible and find middle ground when it results in the greatest good.  Ithaca is a community that prides itself on its progressive values and we hope that we can establish a model here where this movement, local government and the community come together and work toward common goals.   The horizontal nature of our movement makes it impossible for us to appoint one person or small group to negotiate and make decisions on our behalf. We invite the City to bring ideas, concerns and proposals to our regular General Assembly meetings and make all proposals available to the public.

With all this in mind, we would like to announce that through consensus, Occupy Ithaca has decided to relocate the tenting portion of our occupation to the property of the Baptist Church adjacent to the park.  We will continue to maintain our 24-hour free speech zone and information area within Shawn Greenwood Park, which is crucial for maintaining our 1st amendment rights and to maintaining our outreach activities.  We are taking this action first and foremost out of respect to our neighbors especially the Sons of Union Veterans and Vietnam Veterans of America who maintain the Veterans Memorial and the 1st Presbyterian Church.   Any further questions or concerns should be addressed to our General Assembly tomorrow night at 6pm.

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