Occupiers Say Arrests Won’t Scare Them Off

The Occupy Houston movement is now in its second month. Group members have been sleeping in downtown's Tranquility Park to protest issues, such as corporate greed and political corruption. Things had been relatively peaceful, until Tuesday night when police arrested a handful of protesters. The group is vowing to stay indefinitely.

Erin-Michael Sandman and her fellow band members take time from their not-so-busy day to play a tune in Tranquility Park.

“We’ve been bouncing from Occupation to Occupation. We helped start the Occupation in DC. There were about nine of us sleeping against the building and we got hassled with by the cops, cause they didn’t want us obstructing.”

Some of Sandman’s fellow protestors were arrested Tuesday night for not taking down a makeshift tent when police asked them to. Occupier Dustin Phipps explains:

“He refused on grounds of principal, if you will. He wanted to make a point on how the city has been unwilling to negotiate with us regarding the issue of shelter and other methods of protecting ourselves, our food , our medical supplies and our electronic equipment.”

Sandman says she and her bandmembers did the same thing and then had second thoughts.

“The three of us put up a tent, an actual tent and then the cops came around three in the morning — it may not have been that late — but told us that we had to take it down and we got into a little bit of an argument that lasted about two hours trying to decide or decipher what is the difference between a tent and a temperary structure, and what is legal and what is not legal etc. etc. etc.”

Many Occupy protestors are unhappy with the city and police about the tent issue but mayor Annise Parker says that’s not the only law being broken.

“We also have an ordinance that says you can’t stay overnight in a city park, which they are violating, but we have consistently enforced — across all city parks — the ordinance that says you can’t pitch a tent in a city park.”

I asked protestor Benjamin Craft-Rendon when this thing will come to an end.

“I think it will end when you have genuine change and responsiveness from the city and greater power structure, so it’s an indefinite action. The same question you should have of the Boston Tea Party, when did they think it would end.”

Bill: “But realistically that could years or never.”

“It has demonstratively worked in regimes that were far more repressive and violent than the United States that having people gather and cluster does highlight these issues. It puts pressure on the powers that be and it makes people realize that not everything is ok and not everyone just accepts it.”

They’ve got clothes, food and plenty of music.

For now the only thing that may put an end to the protest…is the weather.


View photos on Flickr

Subscribe to Today in Houston

Fill out the form below to subscribe our new daily editorial newsletter from the HPM Newsroom.

* required