“City Hall is now Occupied,” declared Providence resident and Occupier Will Lambeck at the start of a special Occupy Providence General Assembly on the steps of the main entrance to the building last night.
Yesterday was declared a national day of action to celebrate the first two months of the Occupy movement. In Providence, Occupiers arrived at City Hall to support a City Council resolution that would endorse their occupation of Burnside Park.
“It’s been cold outside for too long, for too many,” Lambeck said, as protestors enjoyed the warmth of the indoors. Their presence in City Hall represented “taking back what’s rightfully ours,” he added.
During the General Assembly, the Occupiers overwhelmingly voted in favor of a proposal to attend the City Council meeting later that night. “They’re anticipating — and I would say (are) even excited for — our attendance today,” said Annie Rose London ‘11.5, one of the meeting’s facilitators.
Following the assembly, the group marched upstairs to fill the meeting room, chanting, “We are the 99 percent.”
The council rushed to address the elephant in the room. Ward 10 City Councilman Luis Aponte introduced the resolution. “This is what democracy looks like,” he said, gesturing to the audience. “They still believe in what America stands for.”
“These folks have gathered peacefully to express their first amendment rights to free speech,” Aponte added. “If we are to err, let us err on the side of more freedom and not less.”
City Councilmen Davian Sanchez and Seth Yurdin, who represent Wards 11 and 1 respectively, quickly spoke in support of the resolution.
“There’s a nagging sense that the system is broken,” Yurdin said, emphasizing the Occupiers’ commitment “to reduce corporate influence over elections.”
Ward 15 City Councilwoman Sabina Matos, Ward 6 City Councilman Michael Correia and Ward 8 City Councilman Wilbur Jennings also expressed their support for the resolution.
“You’re keeping the place like it’s your own home,” Jennings addressed the Occupiers, referencing their encampment in Burnside Park. “My opinion is to leave you the hell alone.”
With six members of the City Council supporting the resolution, the meeting moved on to other issues. Upon realizing that the resolution would be voted on by a special committee at a later date, all but a few of the Occupiers left the meeting.
“We still have our stuff to do,” said Providence local and Occupier Mark Simmons.