Officials representing several different areas of Metro Government told members of Occupy Louisville last week that they will re-issue a permit for the protest for the new year, but the permit will not allow for overnight camping. Demonstrators say that doesn’t work for them.
Occupy Louisville demonstrators have organized a series of events this week to raise awareness of the movement. Seven Days of Solidarity will include marches and discussions that help express what the movement is about.
“We don’t just have one demand,” said demonstrator Pam Newman who helped organize the event.
Newman has been involved with Occupy Louisville since its inception. She’s creator of two websites for the movement and has spent nights with fellow demonstrators.
“There are many things that concern us, the way our financial system works and the way our government works, and so there are many different reasons why we occupy and these seven days barely cover all the reasons why we occupy because it’s a real systemic issue,” said Newman.
Occupy Louisville demonstrators have spent a majority of their time occupying Jefferson Square Park downtown, but have since moved with permission from the city to Founders Square a couple blocks away. Participation has been hard to determine because demonstrators come and go depending on schedules.
Seven Days of Solidarity seeks to include individuals who may not know what the movement is about, or those who want to express frustrations they may have about particular issues.
“The way we’re doing Seven Days of Solidarity is we’re focusing an entire day, every day, for seven days on one issue, on different topics of why we occupy and if people have concerns about–or if that’s an issue that’s important to them personally then that gives them an opportunity to come down to the occupation and talk about nothing but that particular issue,” said Newman.
The demonstration is different than others, because it’s not going away, she said. Supporters are already discussing plans for 2012.
The event began on Sunday.
The demonstration mirrors Occupy Wall Street in standing against corporate greed and the influence of money in politics.
On Thursday morning, a few demonstrators were packing up supplies and preparing to move (pictured) while city workers began putting lights on trees in Jefferson Square Park.
Occupy Louisville demonstrators say a permit has been acquired for Jefferson Square Park at 6th and Jefferson streets downtown. They say they can now stay overnight across the street from City Hall until the end of the year.
Occupy Louisville began as an unorganized, leaderless demonstration against corporate greed and to give voices to under-represented people. It mimics the Occupy Wall Street movement happening in New York City. Occupy Louisville has since begun to organize.
“Now that we have a permit and we can actually set up a base camp, a lot of the work from the various people involved, and newcomers included, can be done on site,” said Greg Huda who works and lives in Southern Indiana but has been spending nights at the Belvedere.
Huda said moving the Occupy Louisville movement from the Belvedere to Jefferson Square Park permanently will allow for more focus.
“So you’ll see more structure, more organization at the site, because it was somewhat wasted when you had to move,” he said.
After a rainy morning, less than a dozen protesters held a casual meeting in the park. They’re expecting 30-40 more people to show up after the workday ends, which is typically how the occupation has gone. After that surge, the all-night demonstrators have to go to the Belvedere to sleep due to a complication with permits.
“Being moved to the Belvedere every night is a team-building effort. It’s good for personal development. And if it puts people off, maybe that’s something they need to work on and learn,” says Ryan Ogiers. To him, the protest is less about removing the corporate influence on politics and more about building the people who will cause those changes.
Despite the small turnout Thursday afternoon, the protesters say the event is not fizzling out, though it’s now drawing little attention from downtown workers and the police.
“The police have been fairly and happily nonexistent, non-evasive, shockingly, considering some of the things that have gone on,” says Ogiers.
There have been several arrests and clashes with the police at the much larger initial demonstration in New York City.
The protest began last Tuesday and has featured occasional marches to other locations. Demonstrators say it will continue as long as necessary.
Three of the eight protesters played corpses. They were dressed in black underwear and held signs saying “We wouldn’t be caught dead in animal skins.”
“Well we are here in front of Leatherhead, because obviously they sell leather and other animal skins,” says Lauren Stroyeck, a campaigner for PETA. “The coffins are a sobering way to get people to consider that every time they buy a pair of leather shoes or wear a snakes skin purse, they are wearing bits and pieces of cows and snakes that were killed an mutilated for their skin.” Stroyeck continued, “There is nothing fashionable about killing animals for vanity.”
Leatherhead closed for the protest and the owners could not be reached for comment.
Some members of the Louisville Orchestra’s musicians union are staging a protest at the orchestra’s headquarters this afternoon as their contract impasse continues.
The musicians had already said they would reject management’s latest contract offer. They had until today to consider a proposal that outlines specific expectations for rehearsal and performance attendance.
The orchestra has filed for Chapter 11 bankuptcy and wants to cut the number of annual performances and musicians to save money. The musicians’ union opposes the changes and says the orchestra can find ways to raise enough money to continue at its current strength.
A statement from the orchestra says the two sides have agreed to continue meeting with a federal mediator, although some musicians told WFPL today that they don’t want to continue those talks without the presence of an industry expert.
Most of the demonstrators were producers or patrons of visual arts. They were calling for the dismissal of fund CEO Allan Cowen, who allegedly threatened the job of the director of the Visual Art Association in a voicemail last month.
Longtime artist and former association board chair C.J. Pressma said the voicemail is typical for Cowen.
“Allan is an autocrat. He’s nasty. He abuses people verbally and he is a manipulator,” said Pressma.
But gallery owner and visual art board member Paul Paletti said the demonstration was also meant to bring attention to what he says is inequity in the fund’s allocations.
“One of the main points for us is the visual arts as a whole receive less than 3% of the annual budget of the Fund for the Arts and it basically ignores an entire segment of the arts spectrum,” he said.
Board members issued a statement last week saying they, not Cowen, distribute the money, and that Cowen was disciplined for the voicemail, though board members and Cowen have declined to elaborate. Board chair Ron Murphy told WFPL last week that he had not heard widespread complaints about Cowen.
Cowen’s supporters tout his fundraising skills, but the demonstrators say they won’t give up until the CEO is fired or resigns.
by Dalton Main
Kentuckians will rally Saturday in Frankfort in support of protesters in Wisconsin and Indiana, who are fighting legislation they say will hurt labor unions. Similar rallies will be held in state capitals across the nation.
MoveOn.org and several other organizations are promoting the rallies. Keith Rouda with MoveOn hopes the event will show solidarity across the nation among people striving to protect and further unionized labor.
“They’re attacking us all; and we’re very concerned about kind of a nationwide trend that’s happening, because …you know… we’re kind of in support of the folks in Wisconsin, but the same thing or similar things is happening in Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, New Jersey, Oklahoma, kind of across the nation,” he says.
Through this show of solidarity, Rouda says he hopes to prevent the spread of legislation similar to what is being fought over in Wisconsin.
More than a dozen activists gathered at First and Main streets in downtown Louisville this morning.
They were protesting an agreement between Metro Government and developer Todd Blue which will allow Blue to destroy the buildings in three months to make room for a new development. Blue can also use the site as a parking lot for five years prior to building
The city has agreed to try to save the facades or preserve their appearance, but preservationists say that isn’t enough, and they take issue with the secrecy they say surrounded the bargain.
Blue, who owns the buildings, questions why preservation groups didn’t do more to save the buildings before he bought them. Further, he says if they want to save the strip, they can buy it from him. Martina Kunnecke with the group Neighborhoods, Planning and Preservation says that’s not realistic.
“We’re at a disadvantage because we’re generally not funded very well. There’s only so much we can do. We can yelp and scream, but it’s not until something major like this happens that the public will step forward and take notice of what’s going on,” she says.
Kunnecke says she and other preservationists are trying to figure out ways to block the demolition. They also scoff at Blue’s asking price for the buildings–$1.5 million each.