Occupy Carbondale protestors, police grapple over tents, tarps

Published: Oct. 19, 2011 at 9:49 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 20, 2011 at 12:28 PM CDT
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Photo Courtesy: Occupy Carbondale Facebook page
Photo Courtesy: Occupy Carbondale Facebook page

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - The Occupy Carbondale movement heats up as protestors and police have an actual tug-of-war of sorts.

It all started early Wednesday morning when SIU Police took down protestors' tents. As the rain and cold wore on throughout the day, protestors' attempts to stay dry were re-buffed repeatedly by campus police.

"We had about 20 tents set up," said SIU Freshman Derrick Burns. "Now look - zero, it's a shame."

Not quite zero. SIU police say the group still had one tent left to take down: several tarps they'd draped over a geodesic dome sculpture to provide shelter from the rain.

"They put up a tarp for another type of shelter," said SIU Police Lt. Harold Tucker. "It was unauthorized. We asked them to take it down. They did not."

When the group refused, police and maintenance workers cut and tore down the tarps. Protestors grabbed a hold of the tarps which made the cutting and tearing process much more difficult for police.

With every tear the tarps grew smaller, and the group's resolve grew stronger.

"I'm freezing, I've been up since 5:30 a.m. out in the cold and rain and they keep taking our stuff away," said Protestor Nichole Nicholson. "It feels really hopeless right now, but I'm going to continue because I believe in what we're doing."

University officials say what's at odds is not the message of the group or the protest itself, but a campus policy.

"The Occupy Carbondale folks are welcome to protest and demonstrate as much as they want, 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said SIU Spokesman Rod Sievers. "But no one is permitted to camp out on campus."

Protestors say they'll keep trying to put up a shelter as long as it's raining. Wednesday their efforts drew new hands and voices to this tarp tug-of-war. SIU student Brianna Beaver joined the Occupy Carbondale movement after she saw the incident unfold as she walked on campus.

"I'd been looking into it, but I'd been busy," Beaver said. "This was the last straw. I needed to come and help out. They need more hands."

"This is probably the hugest mistake they ever made because not only did it make more people angry, but it also got more people motivated to join us," said Burns.

The Occupy Carbondale protestors plan to meet Wednesday evening to discuss their next move as SIU officials are discussing removing the dome all together.

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