AUGUSTA — Occupy Augusta activists are hunkering down for winter.

Will Neils, spokesman for Occupy Augusta, said someone donated a tee-pee Wednesday that has been erected in the center of the encampment in Capitol Park.

“What we did this week is put up a tee-pee,” Neils said Sunday. “Some folks from the Penobscot Nation came down to do a commencement, this is mostly a community space for reflection and some discussions. And yesterday we put up a winter/fall hunting camp tent that can house two wood stoves. Beyond that, we’re preparing for colder weather and are in the process of getting folks in that mind set to make sure they’re protected.”

Neils said people in the community and local farmers have donated items including hay and firewood.

Paul McCarrier, a camper from Belfast, said Occupy Augusta is the greatest example of people engaging in government.

“We’re enabling people to have a safe, friendly community space directly across from the halls of power,” McCarrier said. “By having this safe community, we’re encouraging people who wouldn’t have the time or resources to be involved in government and actually come and have discussions.”

“The folks who come here constantly remind us we’re on the right path creating this space,” he added.

McCarrier said his group has had visits from Tea Party supporters who are offended that the Republican Party has taken over the core structure of that movement. And also Democrats and Republicans who have stopped to say they are exasperated with their parties’ leadership, which has not met the needs of citizens.

“They have a beef with both parties and are now talking among themselves,” McCarrier said. “The challenge now is how to move forward.”

McCarrier said Occupy Augusta is focused more on local issues than Occupy Wall Street, which has taken on banks and big business.

His group currently is working on ways to prevent out-of-state waste companies from hauling trash from other states to Maine to be burned and disposed of in local landfills. He said an example is the state-owned, Casella Waste Systems, Inc.-operated Juniper Ridge Landfill.

He said Casella, a Vermont-based company, assumed responsibility of operating the facility and plans to expand the landfill in the future to bring in more waste in from other states. He said the State Planning Office oversees the facility.

The company has been allowed to open its doors to non-Maine waste because the contract with Casella does not include specific statutory definition of “in-state waste.”

“Our goal is to prevent out-of-state waste companies from coming into our landfills and burning trash in our incinerators and using ‘green energy’ subsidy money,” Neils said. “They’re being paid with our tax dollars to bring trash here. . . . It was railroaded by (former Gov. John) Baldachi and it’s clearly stifling to the health of the people of Maine.”

Not all is well in other Occupy encampments.

Across the country officials have felt an increasing pressure to shut down Occupy encampments after two men died in shootings and another found dead from suspected combination of drugs and carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a propane heater inside a tent, according to an Associated Press report.

One man was shot and killed late Thursday at an encampment at City Hall plaza in Oakland, Calif. The Oakland shooting occurred the same day a 35-year-old military veteran apparently shot himself to death in a tent at a Burlington, Vt., Occupy encampment.

Burlington police Deputy Chief Andi Higbee said the shooting raised questions about whether the protest would be allowed to continue.

“When there is a discharge of a firearm in a public place like this, it’s good cause to be concerned, greatly concerned,” Higbee said.

Occupy Augusta also has had an incident, a man allegedly threatening another man with a knife. But other than that, Neils said it has been a peaceful demonstration.

“We have a very positive relationship with Augusta Police and have no concerns with that,” Neils said. “We had one incident that was dealt with successfully. The primary difference with Occupy Augusta and all the different things you see around the country is the different way we’re dealing with law enforcement and the different way law enforcement is dealing with us. There is respect that exists both with the Capitol Security and with Augusta Police Department and personally, I don’t anticipate that’s going to change.”

According to an Associated Press report, a man was found dead on Friday inside a tent at the Occupy Salt Lake City encampment, from what police said was a combination of drug use and carbon monoxide.

The discovery lead police to order all protesters to leave the park, where they have camped for weeks.

And in Portland, Ore., the mayor ordered the Occupy camp shut down after the arrest of a camper on suspicion of setting off a Molotov cocktail outside an office building as well as two nonfatal drug overdoses at the camp. Unrest continued into Sunday as protesters defied a midnight Saturday deadline for the Occupy encampments to close.

Associated Press contributed to this article.

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663

[email protected]

 


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