EXCLUSIVE: Infrared Cameras Show Occupy is Vacant at Night
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Since October 15, Occupy Providence activists have claimed as long as corporate greed still rules the day—they’ll stay in Burnside Park indefinitely. But a study by the Providence Police department suggests when the going gets tough (or, when day becomes night), the Occupiers get going.
According to Lindsay Lague, spokeswoman for Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare, police used state-of-the-art infrared technology last week to survey how many tents at Burnside Park were actually being occupied. The results may surprise some people.
Just seven tents were actually “occupied” at Burnside Park Lague said. There are usually anywhere from 50-70 tents at Burnside Park on a nightly basis.
“There were seven tents that were occupied, that much we know. But we cannot be sure how many people were actually in each tent,” said Lague.
Trying to End Peacefully
Commissioner Pare has said that the protesters cannot remain at Burnside Park indefinitely. Two weeks ago, Pare told reporters that Providence Police Officers have observed level-3 sex offenders at the location on more than one occasion. Pare also produced a series of ordinances which he said demonstrated that the protesters were in violations of those laws.
That same week, Pare personally handed out eviction notices at the park, but promised that the department would not be using force to evict the protesters. Despite being at odds, the two sides have had what almost looks like a cozy relationship at times, with Pare going to far as to tell the protesters that he understands their frustrations.
“We’re trying to end this. But we’re trying to end this peacefully. I don’t know that [removing tents] would be the way to achieve that goal,” said Lague.
Occupy Spokesman Disputes Claim
The protesters never applied for, and obviously never received a permit for their protest. Large groups organizing a protest are normally required to apply for a permit in Providence. But the city never actually told the Occupy protesters that they couldn’t be there.
Reached by phone Tuesday, Occupy Providence spokesman Mike McCarthy, a well-spoken former Navy medic and Afghanistan veteran, took issue with the notion that Occupiers are not really spending the night at the park.
“There are definitely unoccupied tents here,” said McCarthy. “But there are certainly more than seven tents that are occupied.”
McCarthy estimated that there are about “three to four times” the amount of tents than the Providence Police Department found during their survey last week. McCarthy said the group at Burnside Park is actually working on a program to remove tents that are not being occupied.
Some of the protesters stay up all night, he said, which explains why there aren’t as many people sleeping in tents as one might expect.
“There are a lot of die-hard folks who stay up and talk about issues all night,” said McCarthy.
No Plans to Leave Park
A common notion concerning the Occupy Protesters, specifically in the northern parts of the nation, has been that the protesters will pack up and go home once the weather gets bitterly cold. The average temperature in January and February in New England is routinely in the twenties and a snowstorms dropping more than two-feet of snow are common.
But what if Occupy Protesters are picking up and heading back to their apartments every night, leaving their tents and waiting for their gathering the next day?
McCarthy denied that that is their plan.
“That is definitely not our strategy, and it has never crossed our minds,” he said.
In any event, McCarthy said that so far as he’s concerned, the group is not going anywhere. They have no plans to leave the park and have organized “working groups” to come up with issues that the protesters will focus on in the future
McCarthy said the protesters work hard to make sure the park remains a safe place under their watch, and that it remains clean and sanitary. McCarthy even noted that the group has its own program to take down tents that haven’t been occupied for several evenings continuously. He said the groups seems to be bringing more people into the fold on a daily basis.
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