AUGUSTA — Occupy Augusta isn’t going away.

Participants plan to occupy the State House when the legislative session starts Jan. 4 but, unlike their around-the-clock occupation of Capitol Park this fall, this occupation will last only during the daytime.

Occupy Augusta participants pulled up their tent stakes and moved out of Capitol Park earlier this month, and now they’re looking at new forms of activism. They dismantled their encampment following a federal judge’s ruling that the state was within its rights to demand a permit and to prohibit the group from staying in the park overnight.

“We’re going to try to occupy the State House, but not overnight,” said Jim Freeman, of Verona Island, one of the original participants in Occupy Augusta. “We’re going to appoint ourselves as citizen lobbyists, sit in on committee hearings, and make our presence known. We’ll have a presence there, similar to having a presence in the park.”

Freeman, one of the plaintiffs in the federal court case which sought to allow the Capitol Park occupation to remain, said occupiers will likely push for legislation to prevent out-of-state waste from being brought into Maine for disposal, encourage the use of industrial hemp, and also hold workshops teaching people how to lobby.

Freeman was also one of the nine people arrested on the grounds of the Blaine House during a Nov. 27 protest and charged with criminal trespass and failure to disperse. He and the others were originally banned from all state property, but those conditions have since been amended so he and others arrested that day are only banned from the Blaine House and Capitol Park.

Freeman said he and at least some of the others arrested plan to plead not guilty Jan. 18 and seek a jury trial in the case.

Freeman also said Occupy Augusta participants are looking into occupying area homes that have been foreclosed on by Bank of America, a practice seen at other Occupy movements across the country.

Occupy Augusta participants, about 20 of whom met last week at Capitol Park, say they now plan to hold regular meeting sessions on Saturdays at the Unitarian Universalist Community Church on Winthrop Street.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]aine.com