OccupyMaine activists in Augusta prepare for turkey dinner

Posted Nov. 23, 2011, at 2:44 p.m.
Last modified Nov. 28, 2011, at 5:19 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — At the snowy Occupy encampment in Maine’s capital, it’ll be turkey dinner as usual on Thanksgiving, but the activists say they’ll be surrounded by new families.

Activists at the Capitol Park site, where temperatures were in the high 20s and nearly 10 inches of fresh snow was on the ground, said Wednesday that three turkeys are being donated to the group for its holiday feast.

A core group of 15 to 20 people has been staying at the Augusta site, but 25 or more are expected for Thanksgiving dinner there, said Lew Kingsbury of Pittston, who provides support services to the Occupy site.

A local Unitarian Universalist church has offered its kitchen for cooking and storage of food, although supplies have fallen off lately.

“At first, people were inundating us with food,” said Kingsbury. “Donations have kind of dropped off as the weather got bad.”

While November has brought more than its usual share of warm weather, Occupy campers have also had to deal with a pre-Halloween snowstorm and Wednesday’s repeat performance. But group members in Augusta appeared resolute Wednesday in their determination to stay as winter sets in.

Tim Jennings of Augusta said he and other activists hope to draw strength from their Thanksgiving meal together.

“I think that when we’re sitting down it will be like a family. We’ve had some snow; we’re all going through this together,” he said. “We’ve got each other to keep the spirits high.”

Several Occupy members, warmed by a small fire, huddled in a large white tepee that has become a kind of landmark at the Augusta encampment. One of those inside, Matt Ramsden of Hallowell, said he would like outsiders to join the group Thursday.

“Some of us are going to try to get our families down here to have Thanksgiving with us,” Ramsden said. “We have a kind of a community thing going here … and I just think it would be really cool to have all of our families down here eating with us.”

In Portland, the Occupy Maine group invited people to its Thanksgiving feast from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Organizers said there will be turkey, pies and other traditional food. On its Facebook page, the group is extending a welcome to people to “join our large extended family in Lincoln Park as we approach our two-month anniversary and give thanks.”

A call to an Occupy Bangor spokesperson wasn’t immediately returned, but the group’s website said it has maintained a round-the-clock encampment at a downtown park for 25 days. The group is in discussions with the city about keeping a continued presence on public land. The website didn’t highlight Thanksgiving plans.

While there have been a few arrests at the Portland site, there have been no confrontations with authorities at any of the Maine Occupy sites as there have been in large cities including New York and Oakland.

In some other states, Occupy activists are marking the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season by going to malls in protest of what they view as unnecessary spending. A shopping center of donated items is being set up in Washington, D.C., where people can shop for free.

While specific policy objectives have remained hazy, the Occupy movement has embraced a broad message opposing corporate excess and income inequality.

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