Reports from Occupy: 12/12

December 12, 2011

The Occupy movement has spread from a small protest encampment in the financial district of Manhattan to a mass movement across the U.S.--and now the world--with supporters in over 1,000 cities, towns, campuses and more. Here, is publishing reports we receive from activists around the country, describing the actions they're organizing and the discussions they're a part of. If you want to contribute a report, use this "Contact Us" page.

Denton, Texas

By Jason Netek

THROUGHOUT ITS more than 56 days of existence, Occupy Denton has been through a lot. It established camp, changed locations and has since closed down the camp entirely. It has hosted numerous well-attended teach-ins on subjects such as the imperial foreign policy of the United States, the environmental degradation caused by fracking, and more.

The occupiers have held three rallies on the town square: The first on October 29, when 70 people expressed solidarity with Oakland and other cities under police assault; the second on November 5, which saw 100 people gather to celebrate the public space under attack by a corporate-driven government and to address the lunacy of "corporate person-hood"; and the third on November 17, to speak out against police brutality and raise the issue of the right to protest--this time with 150 people.

These numbers are small compared to some of the more well-known Occupy demonstrations around the country, but in comparison, the largest crowd the Tea Party ever managed to rouse in Denton was 200, and the largest demonstration in recent memory was a 400-person march for peace in the fall of 2008.

On December 1, Occupy Denton held a town hall meeting to address policy issues in the community including: moving the city of Denton to 100 percent renewable energy; implementing a moratorium on natural gas drilling and the dangerous practice of "fracking"; helping the homeless instead of criminalizing them; expanding the public transportation and bike lanes systems; and passing a city council resolution against corporate personhood.

Recently, a vigil was held for Darwin Cox, a Denton occupier who was found dead in his tent on December 3. The cause of death is still unknown. Sadly, out of everything that has happened with Occupy Denton, Cox's death has thus far received the most media attention. Darwin's vigil brought out 100 people and helped Occupiers mourn and regroup in order to carry on with a focus on the biggest issues in town.

On December 7, 45 occupiers mic-checked the city's Planning and Zoning Commission after it granted a drilling permit to Eagle Ridge, a company which had been operated illegally without one since 2005, instead of imposing the $2,000-a-day fines called for by city code. An existing citizen's anti-fracking network has found a new ally in Occupy Denton and is pushing for the possibility of a moratorium. The movement that saw an uptick starting in 2009 hopes to win major victories in 2012.

Members of Occupy Denton are also looking to team up with employees at the University of North Texas in order to stand against a potential new "at will" employee policy that would allow for the unceremonious firing of staff without any stated cause. The threat of blatant on-the-job discrimination for campus workers holds the potential for getting existing activist groups to organize with students, faculty and staff to fight back.

Even though there is not currently an existing physical encampment, Occupy Denton's General Assemblies are still gathering places for the city's activists to plan together--and the coming year promises big things.

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