Two Reflections on the OGR Camp

Occupy Grand Rapids Camp



Here are two reflections/accounts of the Occupy Grand Rapids camp that was setup on July 4…


I participated in a very successful occupation on July 4th in Grand Rapids that showed what could be done in creating a better world, getting together in an encampment with library (great reading material), free market, first aid, kitchen and many discussions about a exploring a better way to live and work. We acted in solidarity with the national occupy in Philadelphia this week which requested local occupations. We support other occupations/ liberation movements around the country and globe.


It is with sadness that I announce the occupation is no more.

After a long hot afternoon of building our camp, we had completed a free store, library, kitchen and welcome area. Folks had set up tents for overnighting. Then, in the middle of our dinner, the police gave us a warning to vacate after the fireworks had ended… after much discussion the group decided to call their bluff and celebrate our resolve with a noise parade. This joyful display of community was interrupted by the cops, who detained about 20+ occupiers, one arrested, took everyone’s IDs and threatened everyone with all sorts of unholy consequences unless we dismantled the entire camp while they watched.

While it was painful to see our hard work undone so cruelly… we did not go out without a fight.

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Mlive: Occupy Grand Rapids leaves overnight campsite after police warning

Today (July 5) Mlive and The Grand Rapids Press posted the article “Occupy Grand Rapids leaves overnight campsite after police warning.”

Once again, they made no attempt to contact Occupy Grand Rapids.

Occupy Grand Rapids leaves overnight campsite after police warning

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Occupy Grand Rapids ended its plans for an overnight camp on a Monroe Avenue NW lot after police told them camping was not allowed on the property.

The group had set up Wednesday at 517 Monroe Ave., just north of Michigan Street. The group had planned an occupation of Monument Park earlier that day, but left.

According to its Facebook page, the group had set up a Monroe Avenue camp, including tents for an overnight stay, when 20 or so members were told by police they had to leave after fireworks ended.

“(A)fter much discussion, the group decided to call their bluff and celebrate our resolve with a noise parade,” Occupy Grand Rapids said in a post early this morning.

“This joyful display of community was interrupted by the cops who … threatened everyone with all sorts of unholy consequences unless we dismantled the entire camp while they watched.”

A Grand Rapids police lieutenant said that property is owned by Kent County. County officials told police that no one was allowed to camp on the property.

Police said those gathered at the site were cooperative, and left after talking with officers.

While Occupy Grand Rapids said one person was arrested, the lieutenant was unaware of any arrests linked to the demonstration.

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Mlive: Planned Occupy Grand Rapids protest at Monument Park dissipates

The Grand Rapids Press and Mlive published an article on July 3 titled “Planned Occupy Grand Rapids protest at Monument Park dissipates.”

Nobody from Occupy Grand Rapids was contacted to comment and the article contains several factual errors.

Planned Occupy Grand Rapids protest at Monument Park dissipates

Update: Members of the group have set up a new occupation at 517 Monroe Avenue, north of Michigan Street, according to the Occupy Grand Rapids Facebook page.

GRAND RAPIDS — Occupy Grand Rapids has ended a planned occupation of Monument Park earlier than originally planned.

The group was scheduled to occupy Monument Park downtown beginning at noon today. A Grand Rapids police lieutenant said he had seen about 15-20 people throughout the course of the afternoon. The department was monitoring the group, but had heard no complaints and they appeared to be following all city park ordinances, he said.

The park was empty as of 4 p.m.

A “speak out” had been slated for 6 p.m. with a general assembly at 7 p.m.

Temperatures are approaching record highs today in the city and have been reported in the triple digits.

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Michigan Radio: Occupy Grand Rapids stakes out a new campsite

The following story was published on July 4 by Michigan Radio:

Occupy Grand Rapids stakes out a new campsite

Occupy Grand Rapids is re-launching the movement after several months of laying low. The group doesn’t have specific demands, “it’s not one thing, it’s everything,” the group’s facebook page says.

But several of its members say issues like income inequality, corporate influence, and housing security are important to them.

Anita Finch drove up from Kalamazoo to take part in the renewed effort. She says strong protest movements build over time; like the anti-war movement in the 1960s.

“They didn’t have momentum constantly – it came in waves,” Finch said. “People have to go back to life sometimes and pay their bills and so we can’t always be occupying and assembling together, but this is exciting,” she said.

Finch helped lead protest chants during a march through downtown Grand Rapids this afternoon. Eventually the group of about 30 ‘occupiers’ (as they call themselves) made their way under I-196 and set up a new camp on a grassy empty lot near the Grand River. More people were expected to come to dinner and “speak out” at night.

No one person speaks for the movement. For her, Finch says holding bankers accountable that the United States bailed out, is really important. She’s concerned about fracking for natural gas in Michigan.

Finch says having common spaces like this, without being forced to spend money, is also important.

Last fall Grand Rapids Police forced them to leave a city park because it has set hours.

Their new camp is on a vacant lot owned by Kent County. They hope to stay as long as possible but it’s not clear they have permission from the county to do so.

I ran into occupier Sam Jones-Darling this evening on my walk home. He said city officials told him it’s likely the group will get evicted from their camp in sometime in the next 24 hours. They brought books, kids activities, food, water and set up tents at the new camp.

“We still have multiple corporations that are controlling a lot of our government,” Darling-Jones responded when asked what his main concern was. Darling-Jones, who lives in Grand Rapids, doubts he’ll stay overnight.

Mason Purkiss wipes the sweat from his forehead before coming up with a long list of problems occupiers would like to fix. He says anyone with grievances should consider joining them.

“I’m not going to say we’re going to solve all the world’s problems overnight, but unless we start talking about them we’re not going to solve any of them,” Purkiss said. He plans to camp out.

Purkiss is here because he doesn’t like the country’s foreign policy or what he calls a ‘dysfunctional’ Congress.

“Maybe there’s some people who don’t know who we are still,” Darling-Jones said, “We’re here to help the 99-percent overcome.”


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Mlive: Occupy Grand Rapids plans to ‘re-occupy’ new downtown camp on Fourth of July

The Grand Rapids Press  and published the article “Occupy Grand Rapids plans to ‘re-occupy’ new downtown camp on Fourth of July” on July 3.

Occupy Grand Rapids was not contacted to comment.

Occupy Grand Rapids plans to ‘re-occupy’ new downtown camp on Fourth of July

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — If you’re downtown for the Fourth of July fireworks tomorrow, you may bump into some protestors.

Occupy Grand Rapids, which briefly occupied Ah-Nab-Awen Park and camped at Fountain Street Church last fall during the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York, is planning to set up camp again in downtown Grand Rapids.

According to the group’s Facebook page, Occupy GR will re-occupy Grand Rapids tomorrow by setting up camp at Monument Park downtown, where the city’s Civil War memorial statue is located at the corner of Fulton, Division and Monroe Center.

Although the Occupy Movement has largely abandoned physical encampments after the Occupy Wall Street group was ejected from Zuccotti Park in New York, the Grand Rapids group apparently plans a physical encampment on public property, something that caused them to be ejected from Ah-Nab-Awen by the city last year.

From the group’s event page:

“There will be tents.
We will not sit quietly by.
This will be a physical encampment.
Our dreams cannot fit in your ballot boxes.
We’ll show each other what we are made of.
There will be cheer squads and marching bands.
Bring your banners, signs, noisemakers and fighting spirit.”

According to Jeff Smith, who runs the local activist blog GRIID, the group has not been inactive despite abandoning their encampment at Fountain Street Church during the winter. Instead, they have been “connecting with other struggles, holding meetings and engaging in skill sharing with people in West Michigan who are fed up with the current political and economic system.”

The reoccupation begins at noon on July 4. A march will follow and a general assembly using the people’s mic will take place at 7 p.m.

The encampment will apparently feature a kitchen serving vegan meals, a free store, a garden made from edible plants in portable containers, child care, a library and welcome tent. There will also be a “security/de-escalation team” and an onsite medic of some kind.

Suggested items to bring include a tent and sleeping bag, reusable water bottles, comfortable clothing, sunscreen, food, pens and paper, a bicycle helmet, camera, ear-plugs and hand sanitizer.

Daily soap box speak-outs and general assemblies are scheduled to follow.

About 77 people have indicated they are going on Facebook, out of more than 1,000 invited.


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The camp at 517 Monroe NW was evicted last night. The police temporarily detained over a dozen people. Check the Facebook page for more info!

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Get Ready to Occupy Grand Rapids: July 4!

We’ll be re-establishing an occupation this Wednesday, July 4!

Meet at 12:00pm at Monument Park (corner of Fulton & Division)

About the Occupation

We’re striving for an exciting and empowering environment. There will be a welcome tent, a kitchen squad, a free store, a library, health & safety folks, and all sorts of rad infrastructure. Moreover, all these areas are looking for helpers — so that’s a great way to get involved.

Additionally, we’re going to be hosting daily General Assembly (GA) meetings at 7:00pm to deal with logistical items pertaining to the functioning of the camp. At 6:00pm each day, there will be facilitated speak-outs/soap-boxing time so that folks can share what’s on their mind and what brings them there.

We’re also encouraging people to bring ideas for autonomous activities. If you want to organize a march, make the plans and announce it. If you want to host a discussion on alternatives to capitalism: do it!

Remember — none of this will work without ya: your active participation is necessary!

If you are planning to camp, please bring a tent!

We’re continuing to advertise, if you can put up flyers, tell your friends, pass this email along to people who might be interested, or invite people to the Facebook event, that would be super!

Also, there are various things that are needed to make the camp work — or at least make things go a bit smoother. If you want to check out our wish list and can bring any of the things on it, we’d be very grateful.

New to Occupy?

If you haven’t been around and want to get a jumpstart on how Occupy works, check out our “Welcome Wagon” zine:

We’ll also be having orientation sessions and will be working hard to make sure people feel included and understand the process.

Stay in Touch

For updates, check out our website at

Facebook event:



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Hey… Remember the flyer war that was declared a while ago? Well… initial reports indicate that there are still areas of GR that don’t have OGR flyers yet. This is a problem.

Let’s get to work getting the word out!

There are new designs as PDFs on the propaganda page

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People’s Library

The People's Library

The People’s Library needs help filling it’s shelves with books, zines, graphic novels, DIY literature… if it’s revolutionary, Bring it!

Right now we’re don’t have any materials on the following subjects: Feminism, Queer Theory, Race, Anarchism, Indigenous, the Zapatistas, Chomsky, Environment, Jensen, and we also don’t have any joke books :(

Bring some sweet books!

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GA Meeting Notes: 6/27


  • Get in touch if ya need some

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