April 21, 2018
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Occupy Bangor tents taken down, moved out of Peirce Park

By Nick McCrea and Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Occupy Bangor campers packed up their tents and removed them from Peirce Park without incident Monday evening.

Police officers were on hand to keep watch while representatives of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department asked demonstrators to disassemble their tents, which are not allowed on park grounds, according to Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards.

Edwards said the demonstrators complied without incident and began tearing down the camp around 5 p.m. None of the eight officers on site had to take any action, he said.

“It was just a peaceful transition today,” Edwards said.

Tents will not be allowed in Peirce Park at any time, day or night, and the Parks and Recreation Department has asked police to enforce that, Edwards said. The park is open to the public between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

At 10 p.m., the park was empty of tents and people.

“I’ve been out here for a couple hours. … I am surprised there wasn’t anybody here. Everybody’s gone,” said Brianna Walker, who was standing on the sidewalk after 10 p.m. in front of the Bangor Public Library holding a sign that said: “Corporate $ out of politics.”

Walker, who lives down the street, said she sometimes brought soup to the Occupy protesters.

“I was disappointed there’s no one here,” Walker said.

Protester Conrad Cook said that at 5 p.m., a Parks and Recreation crew began dismantling the supply tent he had been sleeping in. With permission from authorities, Cook said he went into the half-collapsed tent, which was held up by city workers, to remove his things.

In a press release, Cook said what happened Monday evening was fair “because this is an equal enforcement of the law. If corporations tried to camp in Peirce Park, the city of Bangor would treat them equally. When they spend unlimited amounts of money to alter political elections, that’s protected by their First Amendment rights. When we gather in peaceful protest, we’re shut down.”

On Monday morning, the protesters were forced to leave the grounds of the Bangor Public Library, where they had been camping out since October.

Charles Carl III, who lives within walking distance of the Occupy Bangor encampment, set up a tent inside Peirce Park on Monday morning and said he would camp out there after the park closed 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 was to stay until the park closes at 10 p.m., then climb into his sleeping bag.

Carl’s tent site was one of four on park land Monday morning. Occupy Bangor members had 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’s 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 material stored behind the statue and indicated that the items also had to be removed.

Willette could not be reached for comment Monday evening.

In other developments:

• Students at John Bapst Memorial High School learned about the movement when they moderated a panel discussion with Occupy Bangor members on Monday morning, teacher Chris Packard said in an email. The gathering was part of a series of panel discussions being held by the school to highlight prominent political issues for the 2012 election cycle, he said.

• Members of Occupy Bangor gathered signs on Monday and went to the U.S. District Court, located just down the street in the Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building, 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, expected later this week. “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 reporters Judy Harrison and Andy Neff contributed to this report.


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