Occupy Chattanooga unsure about protest

Occupy Chattanooga unsure about protest

October 15th, 2011 by Andrew Pantazi in News

Members of Occupy Chattanooga march across the Walnut Street Bridge chanting and holding signs to passing pedestrians and cyclists Saturday in Coolidge Park. Protesters gathered at the stage in the park to express their dissatisfaction with government and business while passersby in the park stopped to listen.

Photo by Jenna Walker /Times Free Press.

Members of Occupy Chattanooga march across the Walnut Street Bridge chanting and holding signs to passing pedestrians and cyclists Saturday in Coolidge Park. Protesters gathered at the stage in the park to express their dissatisfaction with government and business while passersby in the park stopped to listen.

Members of Occupy Chattanooga march across the Walnut...

Photo by Jenna Walker /Times Free Press.

Gayle Tyree claps her hands along to "This Land is Your Land" during the Occupy Chattanooga protest Saturday in Coolidge Park. After walking across the Walnut Street Bridge, protesters gathered at the stage in Coolidge Park where they lined their signs and expressed their dissatisfaction with government and business.

Gayle Tyree claps her hands along to "This...

Photo by Jenna Walker /Times Free Press.

With a list of increasing demands and a greater sense of urgency, about 200 people met with Occupy Chattanooga on Friday night at Miller Plaza, and by the end of the night, with about 50 people still there, they talked about whether the group should occupy the city.

Already, a separate group of people had received permits to meet at Coolidge Park today, at least until sunset. The event was organized on Facebook as Occupy Globally (Chattanooga), in contrast to the Occupy Chattanooga group.

The people meeting at Miller Plaza tried to determine when, where and if Occupy Chattanooga should protest.

So far, the group has had two general assembly meetings, where people tried to come to a consensus on a list of demands and on the organization of the group.

"I propose that if we're not going to occupy anything, we change our name," Judith Cooper told the group.

Sela Randazzo said she wanted to rally at Miller Plaza while feeding the homeless later tonight, even if the group can't receive a permit to protest.

Asking for permission to protest, she said, is nonsensical.

Joda Thongnopnua, who has rallied with the activist group Chattanooga Organized for Action, said that in the city, he has not had any problems with police during rallies. But still, he said, he didn't think Occupy Chattanooga needed to rally anywhere, at least not yet.

"I don't think occupying Miller Plaza is the more strategic place, except for solidarity," Thongnopnua said. "Occupations in big cities like New York make sense. Here, 40 people would get arrested."

Angelia Stinnett, one of the organizers of the Occupy Globally Chattanooga event in Coolidge Park today, said that the group had a permit to stay in the park until sunset. After that, she said she's going home.

"I'm not getting arrested," she said.

If people choose to stay longer, the event page reads, it's their own decision.

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