Six weeks after setting up base at Penry Park, Occupy Petaluma is folding up its encampment, but members says the movement will continue with nightly meetings, foreclosure prevention work and the weekly “Occupy Our Corner” rally on the corner of Petaluma Boulevard North and East Washington Street.
The group plans to vacate by tonight, which is when their permit expires.
Since arriving at the hilltop location October 29, activists have dealt with one challenge after another: the homeless, and often, mentally ill people who wanted to camp out with the group, angry neighbors who tried to block out the camp with a painting, a gopher infestation, and most recently, cold nights that made sleeping in the park challenging.
“The 24 hour sleeping occupation has posed problems and is eating up a lot of our time,” said John Bertucci, a spokesman for the group. “A lot of people wouldn’t sleep in communal tents, but they couldn’t put up individual tents either."
At the end of the day, the group was tired of having someone on site all the time and made the decision to focus its energy on ongoing projects, like preparing for a foreclosure prevention workshop, which will be held December 18 at .
“The rain and the weather were major stress points,” Bertucci said. “And we got to a place where we felt that our infrastructure is strong enough that we could forego our 24-7 presence...There is a better way to use our resources in the winter months."
The group will continue to have an informational table at Penry Park and their nightly General Assembly. They’ve also secured an alternate meeting space at . However, members have expressed an interest in keeping one white canopy from the encampment at the park to mark their commitment “to work for change in our community and country.”
Where would you like to see the Occupy Petaluma movement go?