AUGUSTA — Capitol Park is still occupied by protesters despite growing cold and snow and some disagreements surfacing in the group’s virtual space.

Some Occupy Augusta participants said Friday they plan to stay through the upcoming second session of the Legislature, which convenes in early January and typically lasts three to four months.

“I see our camp lasting through winter,” said Jarody, an Occupy Augusta participant from Augusta who uses only one name. “Spring could be an issue. This is going to be a mud pit.”

While some group members left the camp Thursday to celebrate Thanksgiving with their families, Jarody said, others stayed at the park and had Thanksgiving dinner there. Two full turkey dinners were donated to the group’s encampment.

Group members didn’t have to worry about putting the leftovers in a freezer or refrigerator, as temperatures were still cold enough Friday for outside food storage.

About a dozen protesters were at the collection of tents and tarps Friday, shoveling snow, considering whether to move their food preparation off-site, and discussing plans to protest Black Friday and encourage shoppers to shop with small businesses, not huge corporate chain stores.

“We’re really pulling together; every shovel was occupied,” Timothy Jennings, of Augusta, said of the group’s efforts to dig out from Wednesday’s snow storm.

Jennings said two tents were damaged by the snow. One was someone’s personal sleeping space and the other was the group’s makeshift food pantry.

Jarody said the group is considering moving their food preparation off-site, because of the damaged pantry and because it makes sense to use the kitchens of local residences, including his own, where occupiers have already been taking showers.

Tension is evident on a Facebook page where some group members post messages to each other. For instance, the site’s name was briefly changed Friday from “Occupy Augusta, Maine” to “Unemployment Convention, Capital Park,” before an administrator changed the name back.

Jarody said the flap involved two group members who have pulled their tents out of the park and left the group.

A second Facebook group page also has been started by group members.

“We’ve got a new Facebook page up and going for those who are still on site and still part of the movement,” Jarody said. “Hopefully it won’t have those divisive comments” of the other site.

Capitol Police Chief Russell Gauvin could not be reached for comment Friday. He had said previously the group would be allowed to stay as long as it treated the park with respect.

Jennings, who said he works construction jobs outside in the winter and is thus used to the cold, said Capitol police come by the encampment in Capitol Park regularly to see how campers are doing.

“We have daily communication with them,” Jennings said. “They’ve been pretty cool. They’ve been checking on our well-being.”

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]


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