To: Wilmington City Council
From: the General Assembly
Occupy Wilmington, NC
Good evening Mayor Saffo, Mayor Pro Tem Sheridan and City Council members. I am Mary Ann Priestley, a representative of Occupy Wilmington, NC. We are part of the Occupy Movement that began two months ago with Occupy Wall Street and has grown to more than 100 occupy sites in this country and more than a thousand around the world.
The Occupy Movement arose to address economic, political, and social issues that affect 99% of the population. It also supports veterans’ rights and efforts to preserve and improve the environment, as well as other issues that affect us all.
One goal of the Occupy Movement is to reclaim public lands to use as spaces for discourse and peaceful assemblage. This right or privilege is guaranteed in the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
For more than two weeks Occupy Wilmington has tried to secure the use of the City Hall lawn through the permit process. We have approached the city’s department of parks and recreation and the city manager’s office. No one in either office has issued us a permit. Both said the permit was denied because the lawn is a public park and Wilmington city code does not allow for camping or sleeping in a city park. We were told all requests are non-negotiable. However we interpret the city code as allowing such activities by permit. We have the right to occupy public space, which belongs to us the people, in pursuance of our First Amendment rights of free speech, peaceful assemblage, and redress of the public’s grievances. These rights are supported by court cases. In Metropolitan Council, Inc. Vs. Safir the federal district court in New York stated that sleeping in a public space as a form of political protest is protected speech. The court also said that the blanket ban, like the one in the City of Wilmington code, of sleeping in public spaces is too restrictive.
Thereby the General Assembly of Occupy Wilmington asks you, the Wilmington City Council, to direct staff to issue a permit allowing Occupy Wilmington to camp on the City Hall lawn. We are not asking for the City’s endorsement of our reasons to assemble but our rights to use public space for assembly.
Thank you for hearing and addressing our request to exercise our First Amendment rights.
The General Assembly of Occupy Wilmington
We are the 99%
To: Deputy Chief James Moore
From: The General Assembly of Occupy Wilmington
First let us thank you and your department for sitting down and meeting with us. We would also like to thank your department for its continual help with the permitting process for our pickets and checking with us to make sure everything is ok on our end.
The other reason we write you is to let you know that we will be having a march through downtown Wilmington to city hall for which we have a permit . After the march and rally we are planning on encamping on the city hall lawn. Unfortunately after continued talks with both the city parks and recreation department and the city managers office we have been unable to secure a permit. Said offices feel that they can not issue a permit because of restrictions within the city municipal code. We had looked forward to being able to do an encampment in a permitted manner but sadly that is not the case. We the general assembly feel that we have a legal and constitutional right to do so based upon our first amendment rights of freedom of speech, of peaceful assemblage, and the right to redress our grievances. We feel that we are backed up in this by the Court case “Metropolitan Council, Inc vs Safir” (please see attachment) in which the federal courts issued a ruling which stated in part that sleeping in a public place as a form of political protest is constitutionally protected speech and that an blanket band on sleeping in public spaces, such as the city of Wilmington has is overly restrictive.
We are notifying you for 2 reasons.
1. At our meeting you asked us to keep you informed as to any direct action we may take. As this constitutes a direct action we feel that you should be notified. Your department has been respectful and courteous to us and we would like to reciprocate such actions.
2. We as an organization try to operate in complete transparency and to hide our course of action from you would be in complete violation of that policy.
Please also find attached our good neighbor policy. The general assembly of Occupy Wilmington has adopted this policy to lessen the effects that we would have on the land we are on and the effects to our neighbors. We will try in good faith to uphold the policy to the best of our ability.
We notify you in an attempt to be open and forthwith about our intentions so that there will be no ill feelings or ambivalence between our two organizations. If you feel of any further need to contact us please feel free to do so.
The General Assembly of Occupy Wilmington
Contact person: Denny Best, please email for direct contact information
I left the banner at the GA last night. Angie, you mentioned that you could make one that was more eye-catching. How can I help this happen
We are happy to welcome the Occupy CFCC group to Occupy Wilmington. I know we’ve had numerous Cape Fear Community College students in attendance at General Assembly meetings and I encourage you to get involved with Occupy CFCC.
Occupy Wilmington would like to extend a message of solidarity to all of the student groups and encourage students to work with us. We are all part of the 99%.
How to post to the Occupy Wilmington Student page:
- Create a user on the OccupyWilmingtonNC.org site
- Create a New Post
- Check the box on the right for the category “Occupy CFCC Documents”, “Occupy CFCC News”, or “Occupy CFCC Events”
- Your post will automatically show up in both the Occupy Wilmington News Feed and the Occupy Wilmington Students Page on our website
Check out Occupy CFCC’s official poster:
And visit the Occupy CFCC Facebook Page:
Co-Facilitator: Donald Duck
Stack: Jim Natale
A long banner is being made and will be brought to the GA when ready for a flash mob (performance art).
Sunset Park Elementary event to assemble greenhouse kit will be on 10/25/11 from 2-4pm. Denny volunteered to bring tools at yesterdays GA. Anybody else who has tools that may be needed should bring them.
IT was donated a laptop to set up a livestream.
Work groups should make lists of needed supplies that would be posted on the website. Donation button was added to website.
Outreach is waiting to hear from Carolina Farming to see if we could sit outside and hand out information. A newsletter will be published in the next week.
A thorough first aid kit is being assembled.
Merrill Lynch Protest will be on 10/27/11 once permit is acquired.
A civil disobedience work group was tabled for later discussion. It is advised to not bring aggressive attitudes to the protest as the establishment could be looking for anything to make you out to be a criminal.
Permission for encampment at Hugh McRae Park is being pursued. Research should be done on the laws of loitering downtown. Homeless people must stay somewhere.
Everybody should get at least five people to join our facebook group.
A broadcast will be set up and content will be generated for it based on our work groups in the encampment as well as coordination with other occuppy sites.
Environmental club from UNCW was present and invited Occupy Wilmington to a forum they would set up for us on campus. We accepted. There will be a meeting with them tomorrow after the GA in Greenfield Park.