Sebastopolcitizens withdraw request for ‘information tent’
With its halcyon days in the rearview mirror, Occupy Sebastopol announced Tuesday night that it would remove the tent from the Mario Savio Free Speech Plaza before April 8, although the weekly general assembly meetings will continue.
“Occupy Sebastopol wishes to express gratitude to the current City Council and staff and former Councilmembers Guy Wilson and Kathleen Shaffer,” Occupy representative Thomas Morabito said. “Occupy Sebastopol also wishes to gratefully acknowledge the support and cooperation of Chief (Jeff) Weaver and the Sebastopol Police Department, Richard (Emig), Dante (Del Prete) and the Department of Public Works and, most importantly, the community of Sebastopol.”
Morabito added that Occupy would see to it that the ground underneath the tent will be reseeded and the grass restored at no cost to the City and expressed interest in creating an area “conducive to general assembly meetings to fill the vacuum created by the removal of the Occupy tent.”
The tent was recently redecorated by Sebastopol resident and Healdsburg High School art teacher Linus Lancaster, who has been an ardent supporter of the Occupy movement from the beginning.
The remodel was only partially complete when the announcement came.
In the wake of the Occupy announcement, John Necker, a member of Sebastopolcitizens.org, a political action committee begun last year amidst the CVS/Chase furor and attendant ugly city council campaign, withdrew Sebastopol Citizens’ request to erect an informational tent in the same space.
“Sebastopolcitizens.org is gratified that the City Council has encouraged the Occupy Movement to abandon their tent,” Necker wrote in a statement. “If our request for a similar tent at the Plaza has encouraged the city to reassess its decision to allow an unpermitted tent in the Mario Savio Free Speech Plaza, we are gratified. Sebastopolcitizens.org does not plan to pursue its request for a similar tent at this time.”
Necker, a retired electrical contractor and computer technician who has lived in Sebastopol since 1976, ignored local politics until the leaf blower issue came before City Council in late 2009 and soon began attending city council meetings and posting his notes and analysis on sebastopolcitizens.org. He has often stood alone at the meetings, a minority voice on many issues, although he says his politics are “left of center.”
In late January, Necker applied for a permit to erect a tent, but it took awhile to get a councilmember to bring the issue to council.
“This is about awareness and open and transparent government,” Necker said at the time of his application. “That’s what we’re looking for and that is mostly our focus. But, we also want more community involvement.”
The Council discussion was to take place on Tuesday, but with the Occupy decision sebastopolcitizens.org decided to let it drop.
Occupy Wall Street began in October 2011 and quickly spread across the country. Santa Rosa held the fifth largest Occupy protest per capita in the U.S. and on Nov. 5, 2011 Occupy Sebastopol began when about 80 people showed up in support of the movement.
Occupy Sebastopol set up tents in the northeast corner of the Plaza, which eventually became one symbolic survivor, the “information tent.”
On Dec. 6, 2011, Sebastopol City Council passed Resolution 5858 in support of the Occupy Movement, which began a collaboration with the City.
The tent has not always been occupied, but the general assembly meetings have continued unabated every Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Plaza. Those meetings will continue into the foreseeable future.
“I’d like to thank everybody,” Occupy member Tim Ryan said. “It’s been a good run and we’ve done something very interesting here that hasn’t been done anywhere else.”
Ryan also said that there will be a celebration prior to the removal of the tent.