Even With Water & Electricity Shut Off; Occupy Fort Wayne Still Camping Out

By Maureen Mespell
By John W. Davis

October 20, 2011 Updated Oct 21, 2013 at 10:10 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) -- The Occupy Fort Wayne movement will continue this week at Headwaters Park West. But occupiers will no longer have water or electricity.

Should we stay or should we go?

That was the main question at Occupy Fort Wayne's General Assembly on Monday night.

About 40-50 people attended the meeting.

The consensus, "we're holding down the fort."

Indiana's NewsCenter has learned the question was partially sparked by a move made by Fort Wayne city officials.

Monday afternoon, city workers shut off water and electricity at Headwaters Park West.

They said the move was a part of the city's yearly winterization plan.

Group members said they were prepared for the water to be shut off.

Last week, they were told it would likely be shut off Monday by Fort Wayne Deputy Police Chief Marty Bender.

However, group members said they were surprised that the electric was turned out because they have not received any prior notice.

One member who said she lived nearby, offered to cook at home and bring food to occupiers.

Another responded by raising a call to action.

He said bring your friends, family and co-workers to the Occupy Fort Wayne movement can grow.

"I don't see that the city is actually being peaceful and cooperative with you. e.g. the power out," expressed one thirty something year old male occupier.

"I don't think that just because a few obstacles are getting in the way that anybody should pack up and go home," added a twenty something year old male occupier.

"We know what we're doing. We're creative we can be self sufficient. We were trying to be before they took away our propane and our tarps and our light. But we can keep going. As long as you guys need us here, we will stay," said a late twenties to early thirty something year old female occupier.

Meanwhile, after an hour long discussion, members voted to continue occupying Headwaters Park West.

A few members went as far as saying, the group would look "weak", if Occupy Fort Wayne left on the same day that Fort Wayne leaders shut off water and electricity to Headwaters Park West.

Several occupiers said they had inquired with the city about paying their portion of the electric bill at Headwaters Park West.

They said the city has not responded to their inquiry.

Meanwhile, some members told the group that Occupy Fort Wayne should leave Headwaters Park West and find a more visible location.

But for the time being, Occupy Fort Wayne will continue holding daily protest at 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at One Summit Square and 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. at Clinton Street and Main Street, outside of the Allen County Courthouse.

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The people's microphone... that is one the central means of communication for the Occupy Fort Wayne movement.

"Show me what democracy looks like," chanted one member... "This is what democracy looks like," responded the crowd.

About 75 people marched and rallied in downtown Fort Wayne Saturday.

Occupiers want everyone to know that it is time to wake up.

"You can not sit back and say that you don't understand enough to say something. You have the responsibility to teach yourself," said a twenty something year-old female occupier.

By design, the group has no leaders.

Therefore, everyone was given a chance to take the mic at Saturday's rally outside of the Allen County Courthouse.

"We want to see capitalism work for everyone. For the 99%," exclaimed a middle aged man, who had previously told Indiana's NewsCenter that he was veteran.

"It's not wrong to tax the rich. It's not wrong," expressed another middle aged man.

"We are the 99%. We need to take the money out of the government. No more corporations in the government," outwardly expressed another man.

"We have no middle class. We have no middle class. We are working poor. Stand up for economic equality," stated a middle aged woman.

"You are powerful. A lot of people criticize the youth. You are wonderful. Thank you for standing up for Occupy Fort Wayne," continued the middle aged woman.

"Our monetary system is incredibly inflated. We do not see that yet. Do not trust that piece of paper," said the twenty something year old occupier.

"Keep standing out here. Keep fighting for it because its very very important," said a middle aged man, who told the crowd he was a small business owner that has hired three workers this year but has not received a tax break.

"Stay fiery," said one member in a call and response speech. "Stay fiery," responded members. Stay angry... Stay angry. And stay on the streets... And stay on the streets. Until we have our democracy back... Until we have our democracy back," he continued.

After a few hours of marching, the group headed back to their camp site under the pavilion at Headwaters Park West.

Saturday marks Day 8 for Occupy Fort Wayne and a small handful have made plans to spend the night at the park for the eight straight night.

For more information on Occupy Fort Wayne, visit the related content section of this story.

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Indiana's NewsCenter spent four hours Thursday night braving the elements at the group's camp site.

John W. Davis headed out to get an update on how long they plan to occupy and march.

A rotating group of about 30 people have been attending 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. meetings this week to plan the group's next big demonstration.

Members hope hundreds will march again with them Saturday, October 22 at Noon, at One Summit Square in Downtown Fort Wayne.

Last Saturday, the Occupy Fort Wayne group officially kicked off their local movement will a march and rally that attracted an estimated 350 people.

Meanwhile, the first issue at Thursday night's 7 p.m. General Assembly meeting was to decide if group members wanted to pay $50 dollars to secure a permit for Saturday's march.

After a back and forth discussion, members decided to pay the free because they wanted to keep their good working relationship that they have developed over the past week with Fort Wayne officials.

However, Thursday afternoon, Deputy Fort Wayne Police Chief Marty Bender stopped by with what outsiders would see as bad news.

Bender told occupiers that the city will be shutting off water to the restrooms at Headwaters Park West very soon, possibly on Monday, October 24.

During the General Assembly meeting, some members said they wanted to see more action from Occupy Fort Wayne.

However, as always, occupiers are quick to point out the group has no leaders.

Therefore, everyone has their own personal opinion, and no one is allowed or even wants to speak on behalf of the group.

But in their discussion, some occupiers said the group should not get "political," until the group has a clear message.

Others told their fellow members that it was only day six, and that occupation movements take time.

Meanwhile, others believed the group should look into leaving Headwaters Park West.

They said it was time to find a more visible location, so the movement can attract more members and affect change.

Max Johnson has spent every night braving the elements at Headwaters Park West since last Saturday.

Johnson said he feels he is creating direct action because camping out is something that has people talking about the movement.

He shared his personal opinion on what's next for Occupy Fort Wayne in terms of "direct action."

"We're organizing demonstrations for the future and we've been speaking about petitions and we do have plans to start attending city council meetings and making our opinions known there and start participating in the process," Johnson said.

"Because that's a large part of what this is all about... is getting the everyday average people to participate in their government and not leave it in the hands of people who may not necessarily have the peoples interest at heart," Johnson explained.

Indiana's NewsCenter learned that every formal decision Occupy Fort Wayne makes must have a 90% majority.

Also contrary to popular belief, most occupiers we interacted with on Thursday, said they either have full-time jobs or are full-time students.

Click on the video below for an extended interview with an Occupy Fort Wayne member.

For more information on Occupy Fort Wayne, visit the related content section of this story.




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