Sunday, December 8, 2013
PORTLAND - Occupy Maine protesters cleaned up their Lincoln Park encampment Saturday, pledging to make the park a tidy and welcoming place.
Ray Woodburn, a resident of the Occupy Maine encampment in Portland, breaks down an unoccupied tent as protesters and volunteers spruced up Lincoln Park on Saturday. The group plans a “grand re-occupation” event at the park at 1 p.m. today.
Photos by John Ewing/Staff Photographer
Jennifer Rose, an Occupy resident, says the park is still being used by people “walking their dogs here and using our spiritual center.”
Three of the protesters took down unoccupied tents, stacked unclaimed blankets and piled up discarded pillows and mattresses Saturday morning.
The cleanup was slated to continue today, culminating with a "grand re-occupation" at the park at 1 p.m.
Live streaming of Occupy protests taking place at New Hampshire Republican presidential primary events -- including four carloads of Maine protesters -- is being shown at the Meg Perry Center, 644 Congress St., throughout the weekend.
The spruce-up came a day after the city's response to a lawsuit filed by Occupy Maine last month after the group was denied a permit to continue camping in the park.
In its response, the city cited bans on protest encampments by other cities and a 1984 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that communities can limit protests in public spaces as reasons for not allowing the Lincoln Park camp to remain.
City officials say the camp is a threat to public health and safety.
"It seems kind of silly that one of their arguments says we are taking away space from the public when people are still walking their dogs here and using our spiritual center," said Jennifer Rose of Portland, who is in charge of the cleanup.
Rose said the cleanup was focused on clearing away unoccupied tents and refurbishing the area, in preparation for Occupy protesters making their way by bus from Palm Beach, Fla., to Maine.
The unused blankets were to be washed and donated to local charities, she said.
The protesters have occupied the park since Oct. 3. About 30 of the tents are being used, down from about 70 at the demonstration's peak.
Hauling away armloads of blue tarp, Ray Woodburn of Old Orchard Beach said the city's response was what he expected.
Woodburn said he is committed as ever to the Occupy movement and hopes the protest will be able to continue at the park.
He said the encampment along Congress Street reflects a slice of the larger society.
"We got to know each other and each other's stories," said Woodburn.
Bob Klotz of South Portland said he decided to help out with the cleanup even though he is not one of the campers.
"I definitely see the value of keeping it a little neater," said Klotz.
Other Occupy Maine events today include sign making and live streaming of a sketch by Maine protesters in New Hampshire at 11 a.m. at 644 Congress St.
The group said the public also is invited to attend its regular general meeting at 3 p.m. at Lincoln Park.
Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:
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Bob Klotz, a volunteer from South Portland, carries trash he collected during the Occupy Maine cleanup on Saturday to a collection site at the Lincoln Park tent city. Though not a camper at the park, Klotz said he wanted to help and sees “the value of keeping it a little neater.”