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|LGBT Atlantans join local Occupy Wall Street movement|
|by Ryan Watkins|
|October 17, 2011 19:55|
It all began about a month ago, some 2,000 protesters rallied in Lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park against corporate greed, bank bailouts and the pervasive nature in which Wall Street investors make their money. The movement, known as Occupy Wall Street, has since taken hold among activists in cities across the world, even here in Atlanta, where protesters who made an encampment at the city's downtown Woodruff Park are entering a second week.
Around a dozen members of the Radical Faeries have joined the local movement, while many more have offered support online. Several of the Faeries have been in Woodruff Park since the local protest began.
A Roara' Thunder, from East Atlanta, said today that Occupy Atlanta's organizers and participating protesters have been wholly supportive of LGBT participation.
“The message of Occupy Atlanta is that there's something wrong going on. People have had a sense that it's been going on for a while. It goes beyond the boundaries of LGBTQ. It's about looking at all of us as a family."
The Radical Faeries cooked for and fed many of Occupy Atlanta's protesters over the weekend, but A Roara' Thunder, who is also an Atlanta Sister of Perpetual Indulgence, added that LGBT visibility is an important part of the group's involvement in the protest.
“There's an impact as far as awareness to the rest of the group that there are queer organizers here. It's great to be queer and to be here, but the most important thing is that we're organizing.”
Everic Dupuy hails from Liberty, Tennessee, but has been involved with Occupy Atlanta since the local protest began. He's also a member of the Radical Faeries.
“As gay people, we make up part of the 99 percent. Just like we fought for our rights to be able to be free and not have to go to prison to be who we are. Today we're fighting for the same rights as everyone else.
“Overwhelmingly this is a very LGBT supportive environment. I feel very comfortable being myself here. I never feel like I need to censor myself here. I kiss whoever I want to kiss. I cuddle with whoever I want. At our General Assembly meetings, they always make it clear that transphobia or homophobia will not be tolerated here.”
Today, several hundred protesters gathered in anticipation of being forcefully removed by the Atlanta Police Department. Mayor Kasim Reed signed an Executive Order on Oct. 12, which would have evicted the protesters from Woodruff Park on Monday, but today the mayor extended the deadline until early November.
The Mayor's office issued a statement today:
Civil disobedience is an appropriate form of expression, provided that it is peaceful, non-violent and lawful. As of today, the Occupy Atlanta protesters continue to assemble in a peaceful, non-violent fashion in Robert W. Woodruff Park. Therefore, I have extended the Executive Order allowing Occupy Atlanta to remain in Woodruff Park after the park closes. This Executive Order is effective through the adjournment of the next Atlanta City Council meeting on November 7, 2011.
Alex Wan, Atlanta City Councilmember for District 6, said today by phone that he was supportive of the movement but worried about the precedent set by the mayor involving the city's parks.
“Obviously, I respect Occupy Atlanta’s right to assemble and to free speech as well as the intent of the national movement, but as the Councilmember who represents the largest park in Atlanta, Piedmont Park, I’m definitely watching this situation closely,” Wan said. “I have voiced my concerns to the Mayor and have requested that whatever actions he takes does not set any dangerous precedents for similar cases in other City parks in the future.”
Top photo: Members of the Radical Faeiries movement at the Occupy Atlanta protest on Oct. 17 (by Ryan Watkins)
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