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October 22, 2011

Welcome to the Occupation

The denizens of a small tent city in Portland’s Lincoln Park stay true to democratic ideals as they fight inequality, greed – and the elements.

By Tux Turkel tturkel@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Occupy Maine participant Robert W. Davis IV, also known as “Bobby D,” of Portland, reads a newspaper inside his tent in Lincoln Park on Tuesday night. Davis’ tent, which includes a small mattress, nightstand, lamp and other personal effects, is one of about three dozen that have created a small tent city housing Maine’s incarnation of the protest movement.

Photos by Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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“The movement has given voice to wanderers and homeless people,” he says. “They feel they have a place to come. Some have become part of the movement, but they can’t just stay here and eat.”

It’s a difficult dance. At night, volunteers act as a security detail, watching possessions and steering intoxicated men away from the sleeping camp, though they can’t keep a group of men from sitting on lawn chairs outside a tent and chatting until dawn.

Still, there is an energy and a feeling of community in the park for participants who have embraced the message of the evolving, worldwide occupy movement.

Shane Blodgett, Lamson’s fiance, arrived from Augusta intending to stay a weekend. They have been at the camp more than eight days, feeling a connection and a sense of purpose after years of frustration over their inability to find work. They want to marry and start a family. But he’s living at home with his dad, craving a future that feels beyond reach.

“It’s sad, but it has become a reality, especially for youth,” says Blodgett, who is 21. “How am I supposed to provide for my family if I can’t provide for myself?”

After Blodgett retires to his tent, a small group of night owls remains outside the kitchen, smoking hand-rolled cigarettes and talking quietly. It’s after midnight. Some worry about a coming rainstorm.

At dawn, Alan Porter is up and reinforcing the dining fly with rope and additional tarps. It’s 44 degrees, and clouds are overtaking the sky.

Downpours have tested the resolve of campers over the past month, but the warm autumn has largely kept nighttime temperatures above freezing.

Porter, an unemployed truck driver and arborist, wonders what will happen to the occupation when a Maine winter sets in. 

"I’m going to stick it out as long as I have to, or as long as I can,” he says. “But I don’t want to think about it now. I’m just worried about the rain.”

Staff Writer Tux Turkel can be contacted at 791-6462 or at: tturkel@pressherald.com

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