There’s nobody here, nothing going on at 2:30 p.m. It’s a cloudy, gloomy, chilly, windy Tuesday.
Stewart Square Park, a small neighborhood park a few blocks east of the State Capitol in Des Moines, is a park of tents right now. The Occupy Des Moines protesters moved here Friday night after Governor Terry Branstad evicted them from the Capitol grounds.
Crowded with brightly-colored one-and-two-person tents and a big tent in which a few people can gather, it is a cheering sight. Forty to sixty people are camping here. In an appropriate way, it resembles the homeless encampment near Gray’s Lake. And I suppose some of the campers here are homeless.
There are a few small connected dome tents, linked by breezeways. Safer to be together in the connected tents, I would think. Especially since four teenagers attacked some of the protesters at 2:30 a.m. Sunday.
The few people I see are definitely looking scruffy. On the wishlist at a small information table, somebody scrawled, “A shower.” Somebody else scrawled, “Food.”
A man with a beard hammers something. There’s always a man hammering something at protests. It’s something for the big tent, I think.
“We need another piece of wood.”
Balloons wave beside the unattended information table under a tarp. There are phone chargers and raggedy homemade cardboard signs.
One sign says:
CAPITALISM ISN’T SO BAD. IT’S THE GREED THAT SCREWS IT UP.
The bulletin board and other notes are a little disorganized. It’s not quite what I expected. I wanted to sign petitions and pick up flyers. Instead, there was a single leaflet pinned to the board about the nuclear disarmament movement, which I would like to join; a note about a lost phone (or something); a schedule (not much listed till the chili dinner tomorrow); and the wish list.
This would be so much more effective on the grounds of the State Capitol. Nobody is really going to notice them here.
Not all protesters were in favor of the move. They are now occupying a park that is out of the way. Mayor Frank Cownie (Democrat) offered them the park after Branstad refused to renew their three-day permit.
One man told the Des Moines Register, “This is in direct opposition to the concept of occupation. This is looking more like a family camp-out to me.”
I do know what he means. At the same time, I understand why the majority didn’t want to stay and be arrested. Thirty-two people were arrested on Sunday Oct. 9th because they didn’t have a permit to camp on the Capitol grounds. And so the move to the park was sensible.
But, from my point of view, they need to organize more marches to get attention. They are not visible here.
And it wouldn’t hurt to make some arty signs.