Tense relations at Occupy protests

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Photo by Jennifer Cheung.

Yalies looking to become more involved in Occupy New Haven last week installed a six-person tent on the New Haven Green, though opinions differ as to whether or not the protest is welcoming for Elis.

Tensions have been rising between protesters and neighboring residents both in New Haven and in other Occupy protests across the nation. On a national level, police forces in several cities across the United States dismantled Occupy camps and arrested unruly protesters, citing complaints from local businesses and health and safety concerns as reasons to crack down on the movement. In light of these issues, Yalies wishing to get involved in Occupy New Haven have questioned their safety should they join the protestors. In the Elm City, though, protesters said they do not expect to encounter similar police actions because their protest has not demonstrated the same safety concerns as those in other cities. .

“This is the best Occupy protest in the country,” said Irving Pinsky, a New Haven attorney and Occupy participant. “There were drugs on the Green before Occupy came here, but it’s much cleaner now.”

New Haven Police Department spokesman David Hartman said the Occupy New Haven protest has been a source of few complaints. He said that despite a handful of initial incidents in which homeless people entered the Occupy camp, the NHPD has been “fortunate” in not having to deal with the problems that have arisen in other Occupy protests.

But while the New Haven protest has avoided such clashes with law enforcement, Yalies’ interactions with the Occupy protest has been tense at times.

Last week at a Dwight Hall working group meeting, student organizer Martina Crouch ’14 said that an increased Yale presence in the protest might not be helpful because “the Green is just not a receptive environment right now.”

While she later explained she was referring to specific incidents involving individuals no longer involved in the movement, other interactions have fueled discord between Yalies and protesters.

“There has always been tension between Yale students and New Haven,” Pinsky said. “When you are dealing with a group like Occupy, some people will definitely view [Yalies] as the 1 percent.”

Officials in U.S. cities playing host to some of the more problematic Occupy protests have said that the camps are hot spots for substance abuse and crime. Riot police in Oakland, Calif. cleared out an Occupy camp one week after a fatal shooting that involved a man living at the protest site Thursday night. In Salt Lake City, Utah, police dismantled another Occupy encampment and arrested 15 individuals and in Portland, Ore., more than 300 officers evicted Occupy Portland protesters from two downtown parks.

The Elm City protest has been going on for 31 days.

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