May 28, 2018
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Bangor police to enforce curfew at Peirce Park; Occupy Bangor may camp out at library

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
Earl Boyd, 65, of Canaan (right) was among the 60 people who participated in the Occupy Bangor demonstration in the front of the Bank of America building Oct. 12. The Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine helped organize the event to show support for the Occupy Wall Street protests across the country.
By Nok-Noi Ricker and Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Local police said Friday they will enforce the 10 p.m. curfew at Peirce Park, where members of Occupy Bangor plan to rally Saturday, but the group may try to get around the restriction by camping out overnight on the grounds of the adjacent Bangor Public Library.

People upset with the city’s decision to enforce the no-camping rule have been calling city councilors all day, City Councilor Cary Weston said Friday evening. Some callers have become upset and uncivil but have stopped short of making threats, he said.

“Generally, callers are asking us to reconsider the camping ban,” Weston said. “None of these folks live in Bangor. Their comments range from the tame — ‘You don’t understand the movement’ — to ‘You’re an insensitive, heartless idiot who hates America.’”

Weston, who operates a communications and public relations firm in Bangor, said the group’s broader message seemed to be getting lost while its supporters focused on the rules around camping in public parks in Bangor.

“They are coming into our community,” he said. “They should respect the rules already in place.”

A portable toilet has been placed in the park, Weston said.

“There is late-breaking news in regard to that [gathering],” Lawrence Reichard, an Occupy Bangor member, said Friday afternoon. “The Bangor Public Library has given us permission to camp on their land. It would appear the city has no jurisdiction on that land.”

But Barbara McDade, the library’s director, said she did not give the protesters permission to camp overnight. She added, however: “We have no restrictions on the use of our property once the library is closed.”

The library is a wireless Internet hot spot, she noted.

“We know that people do come here when the library is closed and use our wireless,” McDade said. “We have no policy” that would prevent them from staying the night.

Weston said he had been told by City Manager Catherine Conlow that the city would respect the library’s position on the matter.

The Occupy Bangor website says the group will begin its Peirce Park encampment at noon Saturday. It invites people to come down to the park at “10 p.m. Saturday night to be present, to be witnesses, and to verbally defend the occupiers” of the park, who will be in violation of city rules that close all public parks at that hour.

“If you wish, you can take the step of joining occupiers who may decide to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience. It is your choice,” the website states.

Those caught inside Peirce Park after 10 p.m. “will be dealt with as the law allows,” Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards said in a statement Friday.

“Should it become necessary, the Bangor Police Department will deploy the resources necessary in order to enforce this mandate,” the sergeant added.

The protesters will be left alone as long as they do not violate the law, Edwards said.

The event follows in the footsteps of similar “occupy” gatherings organized by the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Together movements, some of which have resulted in violence and arrests. Occupy Bangor gathered for a short one-hour occupation on Oct. 12 in front of a downtown bank.

In Portland last Sunday, someone threw a chemical explosive at the Occupy Maine encampment in Lincoln Park. Reichard said he and other Occupy Bangor participants are concerned but not worried about the gathering in Bangor.

Police “will take action if there are violations of the law,” Edwards said. “This goes for violations committed by those who might attempt to threaten, intimidate or harass those who are assembled in support of this cause.”

People are gathering in Bangor on Saturday to protest corporate greed and excessive individual wealth, according to Reichard, who said he doesn’t represent Occupy Bangor but is a member.

“We are very concerned, and many of us are outraged, by the ever-widening gap between the rich and poor in this county,” Reichard said. “We are fed up with control of the political process by the top 1 percent and by large corporations and we are tired of the waste of trillions of dollars on pointless wars, while Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and other desperately needed social programs are being slashed.”

The Occupy Bangor gathering is scheduled to kick off at noon with planned speakers at Peirce Park. At 1:30 p.m. a march into downtown Bangor is planned. Once the marchers return to the park, local performance artists and musicians may provide entertainment.

Working groups with gather at 3 p.m. to begin discussions about the main issues of Occupy Bangor. A general assembly is scheduled for 4 p.m.

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