Occupy Movement Forms in West Pasco
Residents from as far away as Land O' Lakes are gathering in New Port Richey to express their disdain over the current state of affairs in America.
Occupy Wall Street protestors are camping out in tents in Zuccotti Park in Manhattan's financial district.
A small number of Occupy Tampa members have stayed overnight in Kiley Garden Park recently, and some protestors have reportedly brought sleeping bags and blankets to a sidewalk.
There were no tents or sleeping bags to be seen in Sims Park on Sunday, Nov. 6. But Occupy New Port Richey members had assembled, and they were discussing the future.
This is what the recently created movement looked like when members met for a general assembly on the east bank of the Pithlachascotee River:
- About 36 people seated under and around a picnic shelter discussing ideas for activism and tossing out ways to let people know the movement exists. A table set up with the remains of a pot luck meal.
- Port Richey resident Angela Hadley teaching the members hand signals used at general assemblies.
- A couple people equipped with Guy Fawkes masks, which are common disguises among Occupy protestors.
People arrived in the afternoon and left around dusk.
“We’re not really discussing 24-hour occupation,” Hadley said in an interview afterward. They’re not talking about “setting up tents,” she said.
A Local Movement Takes Shape
Since Occupy Wall Street protestors set up camp in Zuccotti Park on Sept.17, other Occupy movements have sprung up in cities across the country and abroad.
Occupy New Port Richey was started by a group of people who attended the Occupy Tampa efforts, said Eric Stewart, of Holiday. The long drive was rough, Stewart said. Occupy Tampa held its first rally Oct. 6.
People in that group talked about addressing local issues, like foreclosures and the pill crime epidemic, as well as showing solidarity with other Occupy protestors and discussing national topics.
The demands of the Occupy Wall Street movement and its offshoots in other states and nations have been difficult to define, some report.
Many members say they are protesting multinational corporations and big banks. And their influence on government. And corporate greed.
Protestors identify themselves as belonging to the “99 percent,” in reference to the claim that 1 percent of the U.S. population controls 40 percent of the nation's wealth.
Occupy protestors say their movements have no leaders, although people do act as moderators and facilitators.
Stewart is the founder of Code Green Community, an open-source website that seeks to connect people interested in permaculture and environmentally sustainable living.
He said his opinions are in line with those of Occupy Wall Street members.
“As people, we can’t have a conversation with our government anymore,” Stewart said. “The corporations drown us out.”
The 99 Percent
Occupy New Port Richey includes members known for activism in the Tampa Bay area.
They are: Zachary Mitrovich, a Port Richey resident and founder of American Youth Movement 22211; Clay Colson, a Land O' Lakes resident and a founder of Citizens for Sanity; Blake Westlake; an Elfers resident who says he founded the Occupy Tampa Facebook page; and Daniel Callaghan, who has protested representation of Native Americans in the Chasco Fiesta and other issues.
Sunday was the fourth Occupy New Port Richey meeting.
The general assembly centered around coming up with ideas for how the movement proceeds.
“We’re learning the process, so we’re baby-stepping our way through today’s general assembly,” Hadley told members.
Mitrovich suggested going to a local Bank of America for a day and getting as many of its customers to leave as possible. Members had already "infiltrated" a Bank of America foreclosure workshop in Tampa and interviewed people there the week before.
Stewart talked to the general assembly about recent visits to the home of Jim Kovaleski, who practices urban gardening, and a farmers market that was started at The Market Off Main Street by the owners earlier this year.
He is in favor of having a "stronger local economy," he said in an interview.
Afterward, the movement announced on its Facebook page that it is holding a rally in Sims Park on Friday, which is when a lot of Veterans Day events are planned, as well as carpooling to Tampa to join Occupy Tampa for a march there.
Hadley is a self-described activist and mother who is unemployed and “unemployable,” she says. She said the foreclosure crisis has left homes vacant and open for crime.
Hadley is interested in showing that the images of Occupy movement are not always those of hippies. She said she's a fiscal conservative.
"We have people who have voted Republican here," she said.
Around the same time she said that, people were called to say goodbye in a kumbaya circle-style formation.
"This is why people think we're hippies," she said.
- Keep up-to-date on the movement's doings at its Facebook page.
- Occupy New Port Richey meets for a general assembly and pot luck at Sims Park at 2 p.m. on Sundays.
- On Friday, Nov. 11, Occupy New Port Richey's Direct Action Working Group is holding a march and rally through downtown New Port Richey and along U.S. 19 in solidarity with other Occupy movements around the world. A carpool is also being organized to take people to a veterans day march being attended by Occupy Tampa in Tampa. Members of Occupy New Port Richey interested in either event are meeting at 10 am at Sims Park on Friday.