Christmas on the Hamilton County Courthouse lawn

Christmas on the Hamilton County Courthouse lawn

December 26th, 2011 by Kevin Hardy in News

Sam Mills warms himself by the fire at Occupy Chattanooga on the Hamilton County Courthouse lawn Sunday. Three days before Christmas, Mills said, his temporary work at the Amazon.com distribution center abruptly ended.

Photo by Alex Washburn/Times Free Press.

Chris Lee spent Christmas Day huddled around a dwindling fire along with about a dozen other Occupy Chattanooga protesters.

Lee said he didn't mind spending the day on the Hamilton County Courthouse lawn, where protesters have been camped out since early November. The Occupy movement has formed across the nation to protest corporate power and influence.

"I can think of a lot worse places to be right now," he said Sunday afternoon.

He said he woke up and cooked Christmas breakfast for his wife and the others there. Some people dropped by with food or gifts, while many Occupy campers went home to spend the holiday with family.

"We just sat around the fire and had a great old Christmas," said Lee, who lost his Nashville home and construction business last year. "These people are my family."

Paul Elliott said that because he's a Buddhist, he didn't mind spending Christmas with the Occupy group. But others who celebrate the holiday did so at home or at the campsite, he said.

"A lot of folks that have family have come by and done the gift thing," said Elliott, an unemployed cabinetmaker.

With little traffic, few pedestrians and mild weather, the day was mostly peaceful for the Occupy Chattanooga group.

"We've been quite relaxed," Elliott said. "We get along pretty well."