Occupy Tampa cleans up the park some people now call home
Occupy Tampa protesters decided to do their part to keep up Curtis Hixon Park where theyâve been occupying for almost a month now. Yesterday the group took to scrubbing stained concrete and picking up trash around the park.
Megan Estenfeld introduced herself as a mom, mostly because she is one, but also because she thinks it is important to tidy up the place more and more people are retiring to at night.
âItâs the same thing as your house, you donât want your house a mess, we donât want this mess. It alienates the residents. They have to see it. We live here. They live here. Gotta keep it clean.â
Most of the occupiers take a night off to sleep in a bed where they arenât awoken and arrested by police at the crack of dawn. But Derek English really is living in the park, by choice. He said the decision wasnât made entirely based on the cause, but he is happy to be a part of something impactful.
âMe and my roommate at the time had a bit of a misunderstanding and falling out and it forced me to leave. And it was either go back home down to Sarasota or stay here and I was already here anyways. And I mean, Iâd much rather be here making a difference than at home playing Playstation and watching TV and not really doing anything with my life.â
And the cleanup that prompted dozens of people to come out with gloves and supplies is meant as a community project. Ashley Perry said if the Occupy Wall Street movement is successful, people would be a little lost without corporations that are heavily relied on for basic necessities. She doesnât anticipate the cleanup to change the way police are treating the group though.
âThe city turned off the power strips out here since weâve been out here. They go all the way down. And thatâs where a lot of homeless people used to come out here and charge their phones during the day. But, we had a radio and a laptop and people were actually able to use their cell phones during the day and they werenât stoked about it so they cut it off. And theyâve been not opening the bathrooms until, like, 11 oâclock in the morning. So, itâs just designed to foil our plans and make life a little more difficult I think.â
She added the effort is really just a way to bring people together to improve the community. Right now the city wouldnât be able to handle an emergency situation.
âOne of the police officers told me that we have four days of emergency food for Tampa. Four days. But itâs ok, because he has a gun so he and his family will eat. So, thatâs the plan; we just run out of food and kill each other over what resources we do have? Or we get together now, figure out ways to make a cleaner, more productive, more efficient community and be prepared. Community preparedness.â
Another protester who would only give his first name, Felix, agreed that the primary purpose of planning a clean sweep of the park was about togetherness. But if the efforts have positive ramifications, he said thatâs good too.
âIf in the process of doing that, the police or the city or the parks department says, hey, theyâre not fucking stuff up, theyâre not making a mess, maybe we can back off. Maybe we can stop being assholes. If that happens, you know, so much the better. But as far as Iâm concerned that is purely secondary to allowing everyone coming to know each other and to be empowered to effect how this is going to be run and how everything is layed out.â
Occupy Tampa will continue to plan events to raise awareness on issues they deem important in our area and abroad. On Saturday, they plan to hold a march for education reform, but details wonât be finalized until plans are approved by the groupâs general assembly.
Previous coverage of Occupy Tampa:
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