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Occupy Bangor misses Friday event permit filing deadline

Kevin Bennett | BDN
Kevin Bennett | BDN
The Occupy Bangor food preparation tent in Peirce Park as seen on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011.
By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — One of the city requirements for members of Occupy Bangor to continue to gather at Pierce Park was that the group file an application for an event permit by Friday, according to a tentative agreement reached earlier this week between city officials and the group’s leaders.

That deadline passed without a filing, Bangor Parks and Recreation director Tracy Willette said Friday minutes before his office closed for the day.

He and other city officials met with the Occupy Bangor leaders Friday and talked about the permit and other issues with the downtown gathering place by the Bangor Public Library that the protesters have occupied since Oct. 27.

The makeshift structures that Occupy Bangor members erected at Peirce Park three weeks ago — which have lead to complaints — must come down when the city park closes Sunday night, City Manager Catherine Conlow said Friday afternoon.

“All we ask is they get their stuff out of the park by 10 p.m. Sunday,” she said. “This isn’t about assembly. It’s about structures in the park.”

She added, “My understanding is they are going to remove the tents by 10 p.m. Sunday. If we come in Monday and they are still there, we’ll assemble and go from there.”

The protesters erected two large canopies, which were used as storage and to protect a woodpile, and city officials allowed them to remain standing during overnight hours but after complaints this week decided to ask organizers to take them down when the park is closed.

The tentative agreement reached earlier this week allows protesters to continue to occupy the park during its regular hours, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., if they have an event permit.

Occupy Bangor members also must disassemble and remove smaller tents and other structures each night by 10 p.m. and reassemble them the next day.

Protesters have erected tents for sleeping overnight at the library, which is adjacent to the park and is not city property.

Both Willette and Conlow said Friday that what happens with the protesters depends on if they remove the two large tents and if they file for a permit, which can be done online with the use of a credit card.

Willette said with an event permit, which are good for up to 72 hours, the group can assemble and demonstrate on a daily basis.

“That’s not the issue we have,” he said earlier this week. “The issue is the overnight presence and the two semipermanent structures they’ve set up.”

The tentative agreement between city officials and representatives of Occupy Bangor that allows the protesters to remain at Peirce Park on a part-time basis was not approved by Occupy Bangor’s membership, during a Thursday general assembly.

After that meeting, members decided to ask city leaders to move the 10 p.m. deadline Sunday to Monday, but the city declined.

Occupy Bangor is following 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 first gathered as a short one-hour occupation on Oct. 12 in front of a downtown bank and there is another occupation happening in Portland.

People are gathering in Bangor and other locations around the country to protest corporate greed and excessive individual wealth, according to Lawrence Reichard, an Occupy Bangor member.

The group’s website states members gather for a general assembly daily at 5 p.m. in Peirce Park.

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