Occupy Tallahassee, which has been organizing and “occupying” since October of last year, has an agreement with the city of Tallahassee, Florida. Every month the city reviews the agreement . If something illegal isn’t happening, the agreement is renewed.
The agreement allows for an encampment. It also includes a deal that grants occupiers access to electricity. According to WCTV, Occupy Tallahassee members pay $35/month to “access the city’s utility line.”
This isn’t terribly unusual. Occupy Buffalo had worked out an agreement when they had an encampment that required payments to use electricity in Niagara Square. Nonetheless, the comments section on WCTV‘s report is filled with animosity toward the occupiers for having a deal with the city.
“The group against corporate greed needs electricity and the get a sweetheart deal to boot” -Gerry
“My bill is a lot more than $35. Another rip…” -get real
“Anyone else would have to pay for a pole, a deposit and a meter. Why are these folks special?” (no name given)
“Occupy gets essentially free power??? I worked for a landscaping firm — when they were maintaining medians and city/county properties that actually improve our town, they had to rent a meter from the city and pay for every drop of water they used. Those Occupy folks have had their say, it’s time to move them out.” -ICallBS
“I agree, whoever agreed to this $35 junk needs to be fired or reassigned to a job that does not require any form of judgement. Wonder what answer I will get if I ask the city to allow me to hook into the grid for $35? The city should be acting in the best interests of it’s residents and I do not consider these bums residents. By the way if you (city) think they are not sitting over there smoking weed, you need to wake up.” -Bill
“WHO OK’D THIS? I WANT THEM FIRED….NOW!” (no name given)
The residents not only think the people occupying are alien hippie bums who could not be from the area in and around Tallahassee, but they also are convinced, much like the House Oversight & Reform Committee was when the National Park Service was letting Occupy DC remain in McPherson Square, that there is some government conspiracy afoot.
A few of the comments reveal how pockets of citizens around the America have been conditioned to scorn protest, which is really democracy in action.
“They didn’t ask me and I’m a tax payer. This isn’t right. Those people don’t even work – they get paid to make a mess” -Hey!
The First Amendment does not work like that. You don’t have to get permission from people in your community to engage in assembly or freedom of speech.
“Legislative session not on ….. what are these people protesting now? They are here, ‘camping’ in the middle of the city – just hanging out. I donot see any reason for them being here now.” -S
Yes, many people do think if there is “no reason” for them to be out protesting, they should not be permitted to protest.
Finally, there’s this smart aleck comment:
“Just wondering what will happen when the Communists or Nazis want to rent land from the city at $35 per month as long as they keep it clean and provide toilets.” -Frank
The answer to this resident’s wonderment is that, like Occupy, they would have to be allowed to make an agreement with the city or the city would be excluding certain political speech.
I realize these are just a bunch of comments from people who are probably conservative and they may troll the comments thread of local news outlets. But, these seem like comments that may be reasonable to a broad spectrum of Americans. They also partly explain why there aren’t more Americans engaged in the Occupy movement.
Anyone who suggests this deal grants occupiers some special deal or even extra rights is simply wrong. The agreement is not terribly unusual. However, what is unusual is instead of showing up in patriotic tees to wave flags at a rally and cry out about “government tyranny” for a few hours before going home until the next big rally, Occupy Tallahassee (like other groups in the country) has stayed visible and out in the open for months and worked to organize and call attention to issues in the community.