First Night of Occupy DentonPosted: October 16, 2011
By Garrett Graham
Occupy Denton began on Saturday, October 15, with tents and tables erected at the corner of Fry and Hickory on UNT property. For their first action, the occupiers collected trash around the area and recycled what they could. After a general assembly the group decided to march to the Wells Fargo bank on ‘the square’ in solidarity with the national day of action against banks called for by the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Some went inside to cancel their Wells Fargo bank accounts in protest while others demonstrated outside. After twenty minutes, a police officer approached the group and informed them that there is a city ordinance that you cannot stand within fifty feet of an ATM unless you are using it. The protesters left without incident and went on to the Denton Farmer’s Market to pass out flyers and inform people about the occupation.
Back at the corner of Fry and Hickory, there were workshops on facilitation and consensus for those who are unfamiliar with this decision making process. Libby Harmon, a UNT student, participated in the workshops. “I thought it was very logical,” said Harmon. “It functions the way I wish the rest of the world would function. We can come up with better ideas that way. It’s about finding solutions, not pointing out disagreements and debating.”
JoAnn Henkel, a student at UNT and certified yoga instructor, lead a yoga session at the occupation followed by guided meditation. “It gives it a real positive vibe,” said Henkel. “If you whip out a yoga mat anywhere a whole different dimension is present. It’s such a positive practice. It shows that we’re all about healing and community.”
Bonnie LeBaron, a student at UNT, said the sense of community is what attracted her to Occupy Denton. “It’s great to promote community around you and not be boxed inside your house,” said LeBaron. “I believe humans can survive in a society that values community. We don’t need corporations or representatives to have community.”
Saturday night will be the first time Occupy Denton has stayed overnight at their encampment. Five tents have been erected so far, and others are opting to sleep under the stars without tents. At the general assembly, concerns were raised over what to expect when the bars in the area close. Some are concerned that drunk and unruly pedestrians might be disruptive.
The group has created a role they are calling “peace keepers” who’s responsibilities include conflict resolution and ensuring everyone’s safety. Early on Sunday morning a firecracker was thrown at the occupation but no one was injured.
For disclosure: Grassroots Gazette editors Candice Bernd, Mike Coleman, and Garrett Graham participated in the planning of Occupy Denton. They also participated in the Stop the Machine occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington DC.
Garrett Graham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.