BANGOR, Maine — Occupy demonstrators in Maine encampments toughed out the weekend snowstorm.
Many were muddy and wet Sunday afternoon but there were no clashes over the weekend with police at parks in Portland, Augusta or Bangor as there were in Denver, where 15 protesters were arrested by police in riot gear.
A handful of people gathered round an electronic keyboard singing hymns and folk songs in front of the Bangor Public Library early Sunday afternoon. A few more sat around a portable fire pit.
About a dozen protesters spent Saturday night in tents during the storm that dumped about 6 inches of wet, heavy snow on the city, according to Sunny Hughes, a member of the media team for Occupy Bangor.
“Most of the people who spent the night have gone home to recharge and warm up,” she said. “They’ll be back.”
David Chapman, 22, of Bangor said he was warm enough and dry enough overnight. The manager of American Retro, a resale shop downtown, said he was planning to spend as much time protesting as he could while working and “managing by phone,” if he needs to.
The quiet in Peirce Memorial Park next to the library seemed anticlimactic to concerns Friday over whether protesters would be arrested if they were in the park after 10 p.m. City ordinance forbids people to be in Bangor parks between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. There is no similar prohibition on people being outside the library when it is closed.
Officers in Bangor police cruisers drove by shortly after 10 p.m. Saturday but did not stop since protesters did not stray off library property into the adjacent park.
The library closed at 5 p.m. Saturday and is scheduled to open at 9 a.m. Monday. Protesters have been getting power from an outside plug on the library patio, used to provide power for summer events.
In Capitol Park near the State House in Augusta, a contingent of campers was astir Sunday morning making breakfast and tying down a tarp that came loose in the wind, according to the Associated Press. But other than that, the group seemed undaunted by the wet, heavy snow and temperatures just above freezing.
One of the Occupy Augusta members, Sarah Therrien of Pittsfield, said the roughly 4 inches of snow that fell was not a big deal, in fact some of the campers were excited to see it because now they know they can get through it.
In Portland, police said the Occupy Maine encampment in Lincoln Park still was there Sunday morning.
The Portland group has been encamped since Sept. 30, and Occupy Augusta has been encamped in Capitol Park there since Oct. 15. Occupy Bangor kicked off its protest Saturday with a rally and parade that drew about 150 people.
All three Occupy encampments in Maine are part of a national grass-roots movement designed to call attention to the continuing economic problems faced by 99 percent of the population who are poor and middle class, according to organizers.
That 99 percent figure refers to all those who are not among the wealthiest 1 percent. People and corporations whose leaders are in that 1 percent have too much influence on the political process, Lawrence Reichard of Occupy Bangor said at Saturday’s rally.
Hancock resident Irene Bergman carried a laminated sign that read, “I’m 65. My house has been for sale for two years. I owe more than it’s worth.”
Bergman said she came to the rally to show the movement is supported by “regular people.” She said that despite her age, she can’t afford to retire and must continue to work.
“This is not what I was taught to believe life was supposed to be like,” she said at Saturday’s rally. “This is not the American Dream, this is the American nightmare.”
Paul T. McCarrier of Belfast, who was one of the original people who populated Capitol Park more than two weeks ago, said the Augusta encampment was well stocked with food and supplies. On Saturday afternoon, about two dozen people were erecting tarps over clusters of tents in preparation for Saturday night’s snow. McCarrier said there was a core group of about 40 people staying at the camp around the clock and a few dozen more attending when their schedules allow.
“We’re not leaving until our demands are met,” said McCarrier. “We’ll stay for as long as it takes.”
During a meeting Saturday night, the group added to its “Points of Unity” and for the first time officially adopted some demands. According to McCarrier, the group opposes any sort of waste from outside Maine being shipped to the state’s landfills and the government granting green energy subsidies to the any group or company that uses solid waste to generate electricity. Several members of Occupy Augusta have been involved in the o pposition to expanding the Juniper Ridge Landfill in Old Town.
McCarrier said there were some among the Occupy Augusta group who were uncomfortable developing a list of demands at all, but in the end everyone was able to reach a consensus. He said plans are under development for who the demands would be sent to, but that he expected them to be presented to the Legislature.
Occupy Portland, which just passed the three-week mark set up in Lincoln Park in front of the U.S. district courthouse, has about 30 full-time occupiers, said John Schreiber of Portland on Saturday. As in Augusta, they were preparing for Saturday night’s snow. Some of the protesters were busy picketing in Monument Square, which might explain why there appeared to be only about 15 people at the encampment Saturday afternoon.
“We’ve got a lot of problems with the way the country is run,” he said. “Every time something bad happens we all feel it.”
Macy Lamson of Augusta said she has never participated in a protest or considered herself an activist, but that the Occupy movement has captivated her. As a college student with no place to stay when she’s not in classes, Lamson said she has been essentially homeless for the past two years, depending on the kindness of friends.
“This is my home for now,” she said, referring to the small tent city behind her. She said life there is difficult at times — many of the occupiers were struggling with a nasty bout of the cold virus — but the camaraderie and knowledge that the movement may make a difference is comfort enough.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.