As of Dec. 7, 2011, Occupy Davis ended its continuous occupation of Central Park. The tents and structures, which protesters originally put up on Oct. 15, 2011, came down after a majority vote by those present at the Dec. 5 General Assembly.
In a letter to the public on the Occupy Davis website, the protesters issued a statement saying, “This does not mean that our movement is ending or that we will stop having actions, rather that our movement will now be proceeding in a new way.”
The first General Assembly since mid-December took place on Jan. 7. Those at the meeting decided to suspend the Sunday Weekly Solutions Forum for the time being to consider changes of process and venue.
Ten people attended the meeting. One participant addressed the concern that not enough people attended the Jan. 7 Assembly to make important decisions for the movement. Those present formed a working group to explore ways of making Occupy Davis more inclusive. The group also plans to explore the idea of writing a mission statement and ways of supporting the Occupy UC Davis movement in its fight against tuition and fee increases.
Robin Kozloff, an owner of a local line of art products called Freights, has been involved in Occupy since the first General Assembly in October. She said she was glad the decision to remove the encampment was made at the level that it was, by the campers.
Julie Jenkins of the Davis Empowerment Project was one of the campers and was not in support of the decision to remove the encampment.
“It seemed like we just gave up,” Jenkins said. “But it was a democracy vote, not a dictatorship.”
Former camper Jessica Castorena of Pawsitive Groomers supported shutting down the Central Park camp.
“We were finding it hard to sustain safety and energy,” Castorena said. “We needed a new outlet of forward movement and wanted to put our hearts and minds into it. It was becoming draining and we needed a break to regenerate. As a community we are going to come together again.”
The City of Davis was involved in some of the changes that came to the camp, but ultimately it was the campers’ vote that decided the occupation would end.
On Nov. 17, 2011 city staff delivered protesters a notice that Occupy was violating some city codes with its encampment. Changes to be made to the encampment included fire safety concerns due to dry grass underneath the tents, health permits for cooking, removing pets and signs on oak trees in the park and other stipulations.
Protesters complied with the requests and remained camping for a few weeks.
Mayor Joe Krovoza said he was pleased the protesters decided to go in this new direction.
“City council wanted to make sure we leaned as far as possible toward free speech,” Krovoza said. “We did still want to serve the public’s interest and remind them that there were city code violations. [Occupy] did a fantastic job of addressing our concerns.”
Weekly General Assemblies will be held every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in Central Park. The next meeting will be held Jan. 14.
ANGELA SWARTZ can be reached email@example.com.