Goodbye, camp Occupy

Goodbye, camp Occupy

Editor’s Note: This article has been modified so that it correctly displays the name Teresa Luna. 3/5/2012

The camp across from the capitol building has been shut down by recently passed HB404. CODY FINNEY/THE ARBITER

Who is Occupy Boise?

They burst onto the scene in October, an imitation of Occupy Wall Street, marching on Boise’s capitol toting signs that read “I am the working poor,” or “We are the 99%.”

After several marches they set up an encampment across from the capitol on Jefferson Street between 5th and 6th, taking advantage of what Senator Jim Hammond referred to as a “loophole” in the law, which allowed them to camp on public land. This loophole was closed last Tuesday, when Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter signed HB404, giving Occupy members until Feb. 27 at 5 p.m., to clear out their belongings.

“I am hoping that looking out on our funky little collection of tents will make the legislators reflect on why we’re there,” said Mary Reali, retired teacher and a spokesperson for Occupy Boise.
And why were they there? Reali said they are trying to get the word out on their goals.

“People are angry about the lack of prosecution of Wall Street execs, the obvious collusion of government and corporation—so many things that are completely contrary to our democracy, to our country,” Reali said. “Things are going off the track.”

The 2010 Citizen’s United decision by the United States Supreme Court is one of Occupy Boise’s main concerns.

The decision allowed “unlimited corporate and union spending in elections,” according to the Washington Post.

The movement wants individuals, not corporations or unions, to provide financial backing to candidates running for public office.

Their goal is to create a level playing field for all candidates.

“When you pay a lot of money for someone to be in a position of power there must be some kind of payback,” Reali said.

Occupy Boise held a protest at the Grove Hotel on Feb. 17, where Mitt Romney held a $1,000 per plate fundraiser lunch. One Occupy member held up a sign reading “Mitt, want to share a $10 Blimpie with me?”

Romney was quickly whisked inside the hotel.

Occupy has other issues besides political contributions. They also want to adopt anti-usury laws which would limit interest rates for consumer loans. After the Great Depression, the Banking Act of 1933 gave more power to the Federal Reserve and kept commercial banks out of the investing market. That act, also known as the Glass-Steagall Act, was repealed in 1999, allowing the current financial crisis, according to Occupy Boise advocates.

One of Occupy Boise’s goals is to teach people and raise awareness.

“People need to start speaking up because not enough of our representatives are doing so, and not loudly enough. Money speaks very loudly in this country. Unless a lot of people stand up and speak together we’re going to be outnumbered,” Reali said.

And standing up is what they were doing, until HB404.

HB404 – The act to send them packing

“Occupy Boise investigated the law before we decided to camp here and what we are doing is legal,” Reali said.

She was right, when those words were uttered.

In a phone interview, Senator Jim Hammond said, “Many of us happen to agree with their cause, with their concerns. I just don’t think it’s appropriate for any cause to occupy state grounds for an extended period of time.”

Legislators recently rectified the laws which allowed Occupy to camp on the Capitol Mall. Senator Jim Hammond of Couer D’ Alene sponsored HB404, a bill which prohibited dwelling on state property, including Occupied territory on the Mall.

The bill passed the Idaho House on Jan. 26,with an overwhelming 54-16. After adding amendments, it passed through both houses by Feb. 18. Otter signed the bill last Tuesday.

“I wish (Governor Otter) would have walked across the street, shook our hands, looked into our eyes and told us in person,” said Albert Garcia, a spokesperson for Occupy Boise.  According to Garcia, the governor’s assistant gave them the news Otter had signed the bill.

After Otter signed the bill, Occupy Boise started a legal process of its own. According to their press release, they have filed a lawsuit against Otter and Director Teresa Luna and Director Jerry Russell of the Idaho State Police, and are in contact with the Idaho State Attorney General.The suit alleged violations of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and due process.

Occupy Boise also sought a hearing for a temporary restraining order on Friday, Feb. 24 with Judge B. Lynn Winmill, an Article III federal judge for the U.S. District Court, District of Idaho.

Winmill sought the weekend to mull over the problem, promising a conclusion this morning. Depending on his decision regarding the validity of Occupy’s claim, there may be some urgent packing going on today.

Does the end of the camp mean the end of the movement?
HB404 will leave the Occupy Boise members displaced. Most go home every night, but several members actually live at the campsite.

“I figure I’ve been here 99 days now,” said Richard Morgan, a veteran who participates in seven different working groups at Occupy.

Morgan has personal reasons for joining the movement. His mother and his brother lost their homes in the mortgage financial crisis. A close friend was so distraught by the foreclosure of his home that, according to Morgan, he committed suicide the day before they foreclosed.

Although Occupy Boise has taken legal action to ensure they aren’t kicked off, they don’t intend to stop protesting if they have to leave the Capitol Mall.

“We’ll find other places to meet, we’ll keep going,” Reali said.

Does the end of a camp mean the end of a movement?

HB404 will leave the Occupy Boise members displaced.  Most go home every night, but several actually live at the campsite.

“I figure I’ve been here 99 days now,” said Richard Morgan, a veteran who participates in seven different working groups at Occupy.

Morgan has personal reasons for joining the movement. Both his mother and his brother lost their homes in the mortgage financial crisis. A close friend was so distraught by the foreclosure of his home that, according to Morgan, he committed suicide the day before they foreclosed.

Although Occupy Boise has taken legal action to ensure they aren’t kicked off, they don’t intend to stop protesting if they have to leave the Capitol Mall.

“We’ll find other places to meet, we’ll keep going,” Reali said.

Occupy Boise’s Goals:

1. Adopt state laws that prohibit corporate contributions to political campaigns.

2. Pass laws that prohibit speculative banking practices in the state of Idaho.

3.  Call for the Attorney General to investigate foreclosure fraud in banking and mortgage lending industries in Idaho.

4.  Adopt anti-usary laws that will limit annual percentage rates and fees on consumer loans.

5.  Create a state bank that would invest in Idaho’s economy rather than making risky Wall Street bets.

6.  Adopt state laws that reject any attempt by the Federal Government to suspend Habeas Corpus, or Due Process, without a prior Declaration of War, ratified by Congress.

7.  Enact policies to restore our homeless citizens to shelter, jobs and dignity.

8.  Enact a fair tax structure including re-examination of exemptions.

9.  Enact publicly financed elections: level the playing field.

10.  Establish a Local Option Tax for Idaho cities/counties subject to a 2/3 majority of voters.

Will Occupy Boise survive getting kicked off the mall?

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