March 19, 2018
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Occupy Bangor tents go up at Peirce Park in violation of city rules

By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Charles Carl III, who lives within walking distance of the Occupy Bangor encampment at Peirce Park, set up a tent inside the park on Monday morning and says he’ll be camped out at the park after it closes Monday night — in violation of city rules.

“I think it’s important to be here,” he said, taking a break from setting up a tent inside another tent for warmth.

Carl, who has been at the encampment daily since it started Oct. 27, said his plan is to stay until the park closes at 10 p.m., then he’ll climb into his sleeping bag.

“Hopefully, we will not be disturbed by the police,” he said.

A city official indicated police might be called to help enforce the curfew.

His tent site is one of four now on park land. Occupy Bangor members have been allowed to camp on adjacent Bangor Public Library land but were asked to leave by 8 a.m. Monday because of insurance liabilities issues.

While talking near the park’s statue just before noon Monday, Carl and Ash Gilmore of Albion, were approached by Tracy Willette, Bangor Parks and Recreation director.

“That will have to go,” Willette said about the tents. “We don’t allow camping in the parks.”

He also pointed to a pile of stuff stored behind the statue and indicated that the items also had to be removed.

Some Occupy members said Saturday that tents, chairs and campfires might not disappear from Bangor’s downtown anytime soon.

Afterward, Willette said there are no plans as of noontime to kick out the campers but added that city staff would meeting later Monday afternoon to discuss how to proceed.

He said those encamped at the downtown park are allowed in the park between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. but that police would be called for assistance “if we need to.”

Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards said, “We will respond as needed.”

Folks at the Bangor park were gathering signs and planned to head down to the U.S. District Court, located just down the street in the Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building, at 12:45 p.m. to provide support for members of Occupy Augusta.

Occupy Augusta members have asked a federal judge for a temporary restraining order against the city of Augusta, which has asked them to disband and move on.

Carl said he planned to go into the courthouse to see the arguments for himself.

“If it’s in our favor, it would set a great precedent,” he said of the ruling. “The movement has taken a huge hit in the last month” in Maine and around the country.

“All across the country they’ve been closed down,” Carl said. “We always wanted to go through the winter. Once people see us outside in harsh conditions — people will take notice.”

BDN reporter Judy Harrison contributed to this story.

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