Friday, November 11, 2011
Occupy St Louis responds to Mayor Slay's eviction notice
Official Press Statement
Hey Hey, Ho, Ho: The Occupiers Will Not Go!
On November 10, 2011 Occupy St Louis received notification from the city of St Louis that we have 24 hours to remove all structures and obey the city curfew laws before they would forcibly remove our non-violent occupation from Freedom Square (formerly known as Kiener Plaza). Since October 1st, we have maintained a peaceful occupation in this public space, founded on the principle that large corporations have too much influence in the actions of our government. Mayor Slay and his Senior Staff have once again validated this by bowing to pressure from the Downtown Partnership of St Louis to restrict our First Amendment Rights to peaceably assemble.
Since its inception, Occupy St Louis has been a model of cooperation and non violence, and has made Freedom Square a safer, cleaner place. The city claims that in addition to violation of curfew that the tents and supplies we have in Freedom Square are a direct violation of city ordinance and provides a safety concern. We strongly disagree and believe that our encampment is a valid form of political speech justified by the First Amendment. Additionally this precedent has been set in other occupied cities across the nation.
On November 10, 2011 Mayor Slay stated in his personal blog that the city would be creating a space for a 24/7 public demonstration. On November 9th, senior members of the Mayor’s staff attended our General Assembly to propose this space to us as a possible alternative to Freedom Square. This was not a proposal, but rather an ultimatum to Occupy St Louis. The City had already made up its mind on the course of action that it would be taking. This new space would not allow for tents or occupation, which we feel are a valid forms of political speech. This proposal was blocked by a consensus of our General Assembly. The General Assembly uses consensus as our decision making process. It allows for all participants to have an equal voice. Occupy St Louis maintains that just because one states they are using the consensus process, does not mean that they are actually using it.
Occupy St Louis hopes that Mayor Slay realizes that our freedom to assemble is not limited to one space, but guaranteed to all people, in any public space, at any time. We believe that we are engaged in a vital attempt to restore the cornerstone of American ideals: equality, unity, and social mobility. St Louis City must recognize that Occupy St Louis is not mutually exclusive with public safety and the common good, but an ally in promoting social justice and in preserving order downtown. The medium is the message and our medium is occupation.
Image from Annapolis Political Science.