by Bob Geary
At the General Assembly tonight — the people's assembly, not the Republicans' — we heard that plans are afoot to visit a very high-level state official's mansion for Halloween. In costume, naturally. The Direct Action working group is, uh, working on this. By the way, OccupyRaleigh now has a wiki in addition to its website and Facebook page.
OccupyRaleigh does not have a permit to be on the State Capitol grounds, but the Capitol police force, decimated by state budget cuts, is nowhere to be seen. Meanwhile, Raleigh police are taking the position that the sidewalk on Morgan Street is state property and their jurisdiction is limited to protecting the occupiers, not arresting (or hassling) them. Further, the RPD conveyed word from the Capitol police that it's OK if, during the daily General Assemblies, people go beyond the barricades and onto the Capitol grass. Only caveats: No signs on the grass, and nobody up there who was arrested for refusing to leave on October 15.
Many nice words were spoken, tonight and for the last week, about the behavior and helpfulness of the RPD. They were called on again tonight to assist a homeless woman who sat down with the occupiers and then keeled over, due apparently to her diabetes and the fact that she's pregnant. An ambulance was called and the police helped her into it.
About 40 people attended the evening General Assembly, which begins at 6:30. There was much discussion tonight about applying again — and how to apply — for another permit to use the Capitol grounds, whether for a few hours here and there, or a few hours every day, or all day every day (with serial daily applications), or perhaps just for weekend rallies. No decision was reached, but the legal committee, in the person of Boylan Heights' own Joe Huberman, went away with some guidance to mull the problem.
Meanwhile, the state ACLU chapter wrote to the N.C. Department of Administration today encouraging them to look with favor of groups like OccupyRaleigh that seek to use the historic Capitol as a place to exercise their First Amendment rights of assembly and free speech. The department controls the grounds. The ACLU's letter is posted below.
The Indy on Wednesday will have lots more coverage of #OccupyRaleigh, #OccupyWallStreet and the whole Occupy movement.