Occupy Little Rock continues to spread message, six months later



Little Rock, Ark. (KTHV) – They’ve been occupying the parking lot outside the main post office for five months and the Clinton Center for a month before that. Now, Occupy Little Rock could be on the move again.

Members of the Occupy Little Rock movement say they’ve been patient over the past six months. They’ve calmly been sharing their message: a demand for social and economic justice, freedom and opportunity for all people. Occupiers say another change in venue, won’t keep them from spreading the movement.

The “occupy” movement got national attention more than six months ago as it took over major cities like New York City and Oakland, California. But here in Little Rock, it’s been more of a subdued campaign.

A movement without any major rallies leading to violence or arrests.

“We haven’t had that here. We’ve done a great job of self-policing ourselves,” says Mac Miller, a member of Occupy Little Rock’s Public Relations team.

That civil behavior has made it easier for law enforcement to work with occupiers. But some are getting frustrated by the possibility of another move. Occupiers like Mac Miller and Greg Deckelman say they’re willing to compromise with the city.

“We understand the needs of the city. And we just want to make sure that the need for a little overflow bus parking isn’t going to [infringe upon] our freedom of speech,” Miller says.

“We haven’t heard anything back from the city on our proposals. Plus since we met with the city on the 7th, we’ve come up with some new locations that we’re prepared to give them. So we’re waiting to hear back from them,” says Deckelman.

Right now, Deckelman says their current location off 4th and Ferry gives them a lot of visibility.

“We have people stopping here from out of state, out of town, the former mayor of Batesville stopped by last week, gave his endorsement,” Deckelman adds.

But has their message even made an impact?

“We’ve made tons of progress. We do want the city to recognize the opportunity that’s here to set the world standard for the free speech and the interaction between citizens and government the constitution says that we have,” says Deckelman.

Occupy Little Rock has not been given a date as to when they are expected to move. But the city does wish to use this parking lot again for bus parking as the summer approaches.

Another issue many occupy movements have dealt with is violence. But Occupy Little Rock has skirted this problem thanks to a good relationship with law enforcement.

Lt. Terry Hastings with the Little Rock Police Department says they keep an officer stationed near the occupy camp on a daily basis. LRPD assigns an officer to the area per shift.

Hastings says that officer answers calls and deals with any problems that may occur around the camp. He also says the police presence has helped deter any violence that could arise with a campaign like this.

“We’ve not had a problem. We’ve kind of been a standard for the nation. We’ve not had the problems at this camp that you see in New York and in other locations. We’ve kind of kept it at a minimum. And that was our goal, to keep problems down,” Hastings explains.

Hastings also says the cost for that officer is factored into the department’s operation budget. It doesn’t cost the city or tax payers any extra to keep an eye on the camp or this area.

LRPD says if, and when, the occupiers move, it’s not likely there will be a police presence at the new location.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *