I am writing today to express my dislike for the Occupy Maine movement’s actions that were captured by photographer Shawn Patrick Ouellette. In the Dec. 2 Press Herald, the photo of the protesters at City Hall really troubles me because they display an altered American flag in which the star pattern had been replaced with one that wrote “99%” in stars. This is disgraceful to the flag and those that served to protect their right of assembly and speech.

Support for the movement is starting to decline with the continued press of criminal activity. This criminal activity that is covered is of violence and substance abuse, which the average working Joe doesn’t support. The Occupy movement needs to distance itself from the criminal element to swing more support its way.

Until respect for symbols of our great nation and the elimination of the criminal activity happen, I find it hard to support this group.

Best of luck to the protesters, and with small changes maybe they could swing the majority of the average working Joe’s support.

Chris DeCapua

Limington

I am writing to support the request by Occupy Maine for a permit to stay in Lincoln Park, Portland, for six months.

The effort to shut down the movement is not about safety but is a coordinated effort by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to evict Occupy movements across the country. According to press reports, local police agencies have been advised to seek a legal reason to evict residents of tent cities, focusing on zoning laws and existing curfew rules.

Obviously, this is the reason for the denial of the permit by Portland City Council’s three-member Public Safety Committee and eight members of the City Council, not any self-professed concern for safety.

I attended the Occupy Maine meeting in Lincoln Park on Nov. 27 in which participants considered how to respond to the city. I saw a remarkable organization structured on the highest principles of respect, consensus-building and responsibility for the needs of others.

Their goals include honest and practical methods for ensuring safety, protecting participants in the winter and working for social change. Surely the city of Portland can resist outside influences and support the rights of an honest, capable group of people who are willing to do so much to bring to the attention of the public the injustices of our society.

Cristina Malcolmson

Portland

What the Occupy movement has done in this country is change the debate from a false debt crisis to the widening economic unfairness that threatens the very fabric of the nation. For 30 years since the election of Ronald Reagan, Washington has pursued a trickle-down theory of economics, claiming that tax cuts for the largest corporations and wealthiest individuals would result in prosperity for all.

They argued that lower taxes would result in investments in America, which would benefit all Americans. I think it would be safe to say the job creators chose to invest in China, India and Vietnam, etc., instead of their own country and their fellow Americans.

The politics of this country for far too long have focused on the power brokers at the top and not a broader swath of people in our great nation. The Occupy movement has steered the debate away from how much working people need to sacrifice to all of America’s rich and poor and in between making a common sacrifice so that we all might have a chance at the American dream. The Occupy movement isn’t partisan — it will support those candidates who defend the interests of all Americans, not just the privileged and the powerful. The Occupy movement isn’t going away; it will strengthen so, politicians, who do you stand with?

George Harlan

Old Orchard Beach

On Dec. 1 you editorialized that “The city has an ordinance banning overnight camping. And it has a duty to enforce it, but not when enforcement violates the First Amendment. When there is a conflict, the Constitution trumps the local ordinance every time.”

Your argument skates on thin ice. On an issue of this sort, the U.S Supreme Court in Brown vs. Louisiana in 1966 ruled 5-4 in favor of the plaintiffs who had remained in a reading room as a protest against segregation of the library.

However, Associate Justice Abe Fortas, who had sided with the majority, pointed out: “The result may very well have gone against the protesters if they had stayed in the library after the reading hours during which it was open to the public … the fact that they were sitting in to protest segregation might not have protected them if they had violated reasonable regulations applicable to the public, without discrimination.”

He added: “If the right to protest, to dissent, or to assemble peaceably is exercised so as to violate valid laws reasonably designed and administered to avoid interference with others, the Constitution’s guarantees will not shield the protester.”

No right is absolute. The right to free speech always occurs in a particular place and in particular circumstances. Is the ordinance reasonable? Does it apply to all?

Walter J. Eno

Scarborough

In last Friday’s paper, a gentleman from Scarborough took issue with the Occupy Wall Steet people about the percentage of citizens who pay federal income tax. He stated that the top 1 percent of wage earners, those earning above $379,000, pay 38 percent of federal taxes, a disproportionately high share.

What he fails to point out is that same group now controls 42 percent of the wealth in this country, a share not seen since the Great Depression. Perhaps the amount of tax one pays should be based on the amount of wealth one controls? Just sayin’ …

Charles Hayward

Dayton