NORMAN — Despite freezing temperatures, members of Occupy Norman are camping in Andrews Park for two weeks in support of the national Occupy Wall Street movement.
Police spokes person Capt. Tom Easley said the group is camping legally and agrees to comply by Norman city ordinances.
“Occupy Norman leaders approached some of the city leadership last Friday and requested a waiver of the overnight trespass ordinance which was granted,” Easley said. “The city is recognizing their right to protest.”
While the request to camp in the city park adjacent to city hall and the police station is a bit out of the ordinary, it is not without precedent.
“We often waive the after darkness rule for special occasions such as May Fair and concerts in the park, so it’s not unprecedented at all,” Easley said. “There is no ordinance that prohibits camping. I believe their intent is to do this for two weeks.”
The group is not allowed to have open fires but have taken shelter in park pavilions in addition to setting up tents.
Members of the group spoke on the condition that it was understood each is speaking as an individual, not as a representative of the Occupy Movement.
The reasons for the non-violent protest are multiple, but corporate greed is the over-arching concern.
“Most of it’s so something will be done about corporate greed,” Robert Etheridge said. “Wall Street practically collapsed world economy, and no one’s gone to jail.”
The overriding opinion by the individuals camping at Andrews Park is that campaign contributions from big corporations, international banking entities, and other powerful lobbying groups is running the country while the voices of ordinary people is drowned out.
“One of the issues is not just corporate greed, but corporate control over government,” said a man who identified himself only as Stephen, asking that his last name be withheld.