The group gathered in the middle of Turning Point Park Tuesday was almost evenly divided about whether they should put up tents and risk arrest or get on with the protest and deal with the issue of the tents another day.
“Some people feel if we don’t put up tents, Occupy Hartford, will die,” Sina Moravej, a senior at the University of Connecticut, said. Moravej said he disagrees with that sentiment. He said he will still show up every day.
“It’s only one aspect of this movement,“ Moravej said.
Others who spoke after him expressed similar opinions. But there were a small group of protestors who weren’t happy with the decision. One said if they don’t put up tents Tuesday he wants to do so very soon.
Shortly after the group decided not to erect the tents Tuesday they were informed via text message from Councilman Luis Cotto that the Hartford City Council would allow the tents to be set up Tuesday evening. The information spread through the crowd quickly and less than 15-minutes after the announcement eight tents went up.
Gregory Spear, 61, who was in favor of setting up the tents regardless of the consequences, said in New York 700 arrests kicked off some 500 Occupation movements across the country.
“You can’t have an effective protest if you can’t get in the way,” Spear said.
Spear said he slept in the park last Friday and Saturday.
As someone who works in the finance “I can tell you the industry needs to be held accountable,” Spear, who runs DayTraderHotline.com, said.
“It’s one thing to be a financial adviser, but it’s a whole other thing to be involved in wholesale fraud,” Spear added.
He said American culture says “work if you want to work, but that’s just not true.” He said society makes the unemployed person feel like they’re to blame and it’s not their fault.
“We are the ninety-niners,” the group parading up and down the sidewalk on Farmington Avenue chanted.
Asked why it took so long for the outrage to form into a movement, Spear said he wasn’t an expert on social movements, but he said unemployment had a lot to do with it. Finally people were standing up and saying, “It’s not my fault instead of turning against each other.”
“We gotta not be bugs in a bottle. We gotta understand whose holding the jar,” Spear said.
The movement doesn’t have leaders. All of their demands are voted on in what they’re calling General Assemblies.
However, earlier Tuesday evening at least four people from Occupy Hartford went to a private meeting with city officials and Hartford Police Chief Darryl Roberts to talk about the tents and camping overnight at the park.
Mary L. Sanders of New Britain was one of them.
She said they assured city officials they were going down to Union Station to use the restrooms and there’s no alcohol or drugs allowed.
“We’re even recycling,” Sanders said.
A hour later and a few blocks away the Hartford City Council heard from residents like Edward Johnson, who isn’t part of the movement but feels strongly in the group’s ability to express itself however it chooses.
Johnson said he heard the City Council may crack down on the campers so he went down to City Hall to tell them it’s a peaceful occupation. He wasn’t the only one. Johnson was joined by at least a handful of other city residents.
It’s unclear how long they will be able to stay, but they were able to stay at least for the night.
And even though the movement is still in its infancy it attracted some political support Tuesday.
John Olsen, president of the AFL-CIO, came out to the site dressed in a suit, which made him stand out from the crowd, and asked if there was anything he could do to help.
Olsen said he received a phone call from one of his members who was concerned about what may happen if the police did end up arresting people. Olsen as head of the state’s largest labor organization is skilled in civil disobedience, but those skills didn’t need to be put to use Tuesday.
As for the movement, Olsen said he understands that it will take some time for the movement to decide where it will go.
“They have to figure this out. Right now it’s like Athens without Pericles,” Olsen said.