By Rhonda Parker
St. Augustine – Organizers of “Occupy St. Augustine” have emphasized again that they want an event that focuses on issues, and not a confrontation with city officials or police.
Now they have sought a permit from the city for the “Occupy St. Augustine” event, to be held in the downtown Plaza de la Constitución on Saturday, November 5 from 1 to 5 pm.
“We’re not interested in actually ‘taking over’ the city or anything like that,” said Terry Buckenmeyer, one of the organizers of the protest event.
Buckenmeyer said the “Occupy St. Augustine” group is a local endeavor, and not associated with the larger movements – although the issues are largely the same.
In a recent interview with knotmove.com, organizer Aubrey Skillman had said he’d like an event his mother, boss or family could attend, and would like to see turn out from a cross-section of the city – and especially small business owners.
“These issues are non-partisan and affect almost all of us,” Skillman said. “We are the ninety-nine percent, and that’s who we’d like to see come out November 5.”
Other citizens that have gathered for organizational meetings in the plaza have cited the issues they’re concerned with, such as the bank bail-outs, home foreclosures, unemployment, high food prices, and fees and pressures put on small businesses by government agencies.
Buckenmeyer said there were about 40 people in attendance at the meeting held on Tuesday night, and that committees formed may include one to articulate the issues, as well as one to deal with relations with the city and St. Augustine Police Department.
St. Augustine Police Department has been sending a representative to the meeting, Commander Barry Fox, who has described the group as “very cooperative.”
Said Fox, “We’ve had a lot of groups use the plaza in the past and in general, its never been a problem.”
City Manager John Regan also commented at a recent city meeting, “We keep getting comments from city staff that the ‘Occupy’ people have been very pleasant, and very cooperative.”
He added that the group even moved the protest event to the afternoon when they heard there would be a wedding downtown.
“We don’t foresee any problems,” Regan said.
Buckenmeyer said the group has a strong sense of community awareness, and that organizations have faith that everyone involved will be respectful of the plaza, which is owned by citizens. The group even has a committee leader assigned to see that any litter is picked up and the plaza is left as found.
Buckenmeyer said the group decided to seek a permit so they could use the plaza’s band pavilion and sound system for guest speakers and music.
The group meets again on Tuesday night, Nov. 1 at 6 p.m. at the plaza for final planning before the protest in the plaza.
“This is a grassroots movement by citizens who want to exercise their right to peaceful assembly and freedom of speech. We’re pleased so far with the support we’ve received,”
For more information, check out the group’s Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/OccupyStAugustine
“We are St. Augustine” FB page: http://www.facebook.com/groups/103584209752990/
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