State lets Occupy Indy protesters keep small camp

November 17, 2011

Indiana officials are declaring détente with Occupy Indy demonstrators after the protesters removed much of their camping equipment from the Statehouse lawn.

Indiana Department of Administration Commissioner Rob Wynkoop said Thursday afternoon he has no plans to remove the protesters' remaining gear. The handful of camping chairs and two foldout tables — which were in front of a set of Statehouse steps and removed from two side exits from the Statehouse — looked manageable, Wynkoop said.

"We'll monitor that and see what happens," he said.

The state ordered about a dozen protesters to clear their equipment from the lawn in a letter Wednesday. Wynkoop said he asked them to remove their gear because of safety concerns. In the letter, state officials cited three arrests made over the course of the protest, the collection of food at the site and the use of a gas generator as safety concerns.

Protesters said Thursday that they expect to bring back more blankets and sleeping bags after hearing the state would not clear out their remaining supplies. Most of the food, blankets and other items the group had collected were removed by protesters Wednesday night.

"I think we're going to end up bringing more things back here," said Crowe "Caleb" Constinteen, 27, of Evansville. They'll bring back "things we need to survive."

One man was arrested in October for refusing to move a large, patio umbrella. Another woman was arrested twice this week, once for not putting out a candle during a candlelight vigil and again two days later for blocking state workers from washing a chalk drawing off the sidewalk in front of the Statehouse, according to accounts from protesters and Capt. David Bursten, spokesman for the state police.

Despite the handful of arrests, the protesters' relationship with the state has been largely subdued since they set up camp at the Statehouse five weeks ago. Many days the encampment has been anchored by two or three protesters, hardly the size of larger movements in Oakland and New York which have sparked violent showdowns with police.


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