Occupy Columbus Tent to Vacate Sidewalk, As Occupiers Did Months Ago
The Occupy Columbus tent on the High Street sidewalk in front of the Ohio Statehouse will be removed by the end of the day Sunday, September 9, ABC 6 has reported. After leaving an often vacant “occupation site” heaped on the public right-of-way for months, the leftist movement will officially go the way of Occupy Cleveland and other Occupy Wall Street branches across Ohio.
ABC 6 quoted a former Occupier who opined that Occupy Columbus members “piled too much junk and erected too many tents on the site, eventually resulting in a change the group didn’t anticipate.” Although Ohio media ignored numerous warning signs from Occupy Columbus leaders starting shortly after the group’s creation last October, this summer Columbus officials agreed to city code updates which will make it impossible for protest groups to monopolize public space indefinitely.
“Today we sadly announce this: barring unexpected event or events, our occupation tent will come down Sept. 9th at 11:59 PM as a result of actions taken by the Columbus City Council which restrict the constitutional 1st Amendment right of all citizens of City of Columbus, the State of Ohio and of the United States of America to assemble and to petition the government for the redress of grievances,” read a September 3 statement on the Occupy Columbus website.
Following the May 1 news of an FBI bust of five Occupy Cleveland members accused of plotting to bomb a bridge, WTAM 1100 reported a claim from ProgressOhio Executive Director Brian Rothenberg that his organization had nothing to do with the Occupy movement. ProgressOhio worked closely with Occupy Columbus from late 2011 to early 2012, but the negative press from Occupy Cleveland apparently proved too much for the group’s union-funded benefactor.
In response to Occupy Columbus taking advantage of right-of-way rules intended for construction permits, the Democrat-dominated Columbus City Council has increased permit fees and added more stringent time limits for permits. Effective this month, the city now requires that tables or displays be manned during the day and removed overnight, as well.
As Media Trackers has reported, the Occupy Columbus site has been frequently unoccupied since at least February 2012.
Though the group had dwindled to a handful of fringe-left activists months before Columbus City Council announced potential updates to the relevant city code, the remaining Occupiers attempted to fight City Council’s rule changes. An “Occupy City Council” event was scheduled – with a total of 9 invitees.
In remarks to a July meeting of the Columbus City Council, Occupy Columbus leader Robert Crane complained that proposed changes would increase the cost of a 30 day permit from $30 to $1,000. Crane essentially argued that stopping Occupiers from leaving a tent on a public sidewalk for $1 a day represented a threat to citizens’ free speech rights. These arguments have been echoed on the Occupy Columbus website and Facebook page.
Even after the FBI bust of a bomb plot by Occupy Cleveland members, Ohio’s traditional media failed to report ties between ProgressOhio and Occupy Columbus. Even as the protest group’s membership plummeted, reporters likewise failed to mention the violent rants of Occupy Columbus leader Jesse Kloth, a socialist and former employee of the AFL-CIO’s “Working America.”