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Occupy Memphis Still Standing | Occupied Stories

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Occupy Memphis Still Standing

Occupy Memphis Still Standing

Memphis, TN – June 15-2012 marked the 8 month anniversary of the Occupy Memphis camp & occupation. What began as a tweet from one lone voice way back in Sept. 2011 bloomed into Occupy Memphis, with the help of Mid South Peace and Justice Center and hundreds of concerned citizens from all walks of life, we began holding meetings off site organizing working groups and doing research. We chose and voted on the location we are based at due to its proximity to the many government buildings, Since October 15-2011, Occupy Memphis camp has been located directly across from the Memphis City Hall and is surrounded by the Federal, State & Shelby County Buildings; we call it “The Hill”, even though we are located on the flat HOT concrete of Civic Center Plaza. They have to walk past us daily and when they look out of their windows they see us.. still there.

Being here has given us many opportunities to converse with various members from each  of these buildings along with Memphians and the many tourist from all over the world. We use this platform to inform and educate the public of the injustices being done by our government.

The City views the camp as a legal lawful assembly and can remain as long as we are peaceful and law abiding, we do NOT have a permit.

We have had one Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy bring his tent and spend the night with us, and another Commissioner has attended several of our G.A.’s. We regularly attend City Council & County Commission meetings, and have been instrumental in changing several decisions voted on at these meetings.

We are most proud of:

  • Our Occupy camp is, by itself, an ongoing direct action.
  • Several groups that have developed out of Occupy Memphis, H.O.P.E. = Homeless Organizing for Power and Equality, which was instrumental in the award of almost half a million dollars from Shelby County to house the Homeless. Sparkle fingers!!!
  • The M.B.R.U. = Memphis Bus Riders Union was formed thanks to the help of our Transportation Task Force (TTF). The Union members are addressing the city’s bus services that are being cut yet fares have been raised.
  • We presented both City & County Mayors a “Redress of Grievances” regarding the City’s lawsuit against Wells Fargo, City Mayor Wharton did reply back but sadly on 5-31-12 settled with Wells Fargo for far less than the people deserved. More to follow.

Other Direct Actions we are proud of:

  • David Rovics played for us 10-21-11
  • Three of our members went to Nashville & were arrested when they were getting shut down 10-29-11


Camp Life:
Several of our Full time campers have jobs that they go to during the day, but the majority of our Full time campers are on site to meet and greet the public on a daily basis. Living outside has its challenges….

  • We have NO electricity, we use 2 Marine Deep Cycle batteries to charge phones and our laptop, which are taken home by our cook to be re-charged.
  • Water is obtained from the drinking fountain on the plaza.
  • Most of the cooking is done off site by our one and only cook from her home and delivered nightly. We have an arched, plastic covered structure we call the kitchen, (built by a supportive Occupier) with plastic bins for storage, a cooler, a Coleman propane cook stove ,for making coffee as well as some light cooking, and a small propane grill for hotdogs and hamburgers. We wash all of our cookware, plastic plates, cups, forks, spoons and utensils to reuse as much as possible… GO GREEN!
  • We have regular Fire Dept. inspections.
  • We used to Live Stream, and are attempting to re-establish connectivity again. We need a hotspot card, since the Wi-Fi from city hall is sketchy.
  • We have 19 tents, 13 Full Time Occupy Campers & 8 Part Time Occupy Campers, we regularly host visitors from other Occupies as well as Travelers. We have devoted Occupiers as well as many Occupiers that come and go.
  • We have an Information table , a 3 ring binder with sheet protected bulletins and a large roofed bulletin board (built by a supportive Occupier) which is updated daily with current issues by another supportive Occupier.
  • We have recycle bins.
  • We have our covered garbage can which we use for food scraps and the city’s cans for all other waste, which we empty for them on the days they pick up trash.
  • One of our supportive Occupiers built for us an arched, tarp covered tunnel for getting out of the cold / heat & rain.
  • We have a shopping cart which we use to haul batteries, food, blankets, etc. to our cooks car.
  • Many of us are transported by our cook to her home to shower and wash clothes, others have friends or family that do the same.
  • We utilize the local Welcome center and various other local businesses for restroom facilities.
  • We have a good rapport with the Downtown Safety Patrol as well as the Memphis Police Department. They have been very supportive and vital to our safety.
  • We depend on donations and each other for food & supplies. We have a donation box we sometimes put out and an online link maintained by Mid South Peace & Justice Center.

List of needs:

  • We need ICE, it’s HOT in Memphis, Tn.
  • $ for food
  • Gatorade, tea, Kool Aid
  • Mosquito repellant & candles
  • Bug spray, Fly & Wasp traps
  • Garbage bags 55 gallon
  • Dinnerware ie; plates, forks, spoons & cups (reusable plasticware prefered)
  • Coffee, sugar & creamer
  • plastic page protectors for bulletins
  • staple gun & staples (ours got stolen)
  • cleaning supplies ie; Dish detergent, Laundry detergent, rags, Comet, Bleach
  • Baby wipes, deodorant, Soap, Shampoo, Sunblock
  • tobacco & rolling papers

List of wants:

  • Support of our fellow Memphians
  • Occupiers from closed camps across the nation to join us, bring your ideas, energy, tents & supplies


Please visit our websites:

Although we may not have been as active or vocal as , or other Occupations nor raised many eyebrows….. We view Our camp as an ongoing DIRECT action….

“Of course, activism that appears ineffectual at the time can succeed in a great many ways, including by influencing others, even young children, who go on to become effective activists — or by influencing firm opponents who begin to change their minds and eventually switch sides.
The beautiful thing about nonviolent activism is that, while risking no harm, it has the potential to do good in ways small and large that ripple out from it in directions we cannot track or measure.”

Yes, our government was more responsive to public opinion in the 1960s than now, but part of the reason is that more people were active then.  And another reason is that government officials are doing a better job now of hiding any responsiveness to public sentiment, which helps convince the public it has no impact, which reduces activism further….

When someone tells you to stop imagining that you’re having an impact, ask them to please redirect their energy into getting 10 friends to join you in doing what needs to be done.  If it has no impact, you’ll have gone down trying.  If it has an impact, nobody will tell you for many years. :)

Keep on Keepin on….OCCUPY….
Solidarity from Memphis, TN.


8 Responses to “Occupy Memphis Still Standing”

  1. Robert M. Gannaway says:

    This is a nice story. I am glad to hear about the success of your camp.

  2. Adam says:

    Yay! This is supercool and it made me happy just to read about what these folks are doing. Thank you!

  3. Rose says:

    It’s a very nice story, alright. Main stream media would be proud of just how much of a “story” it is. Maybe they’ll make a reality show called “The Hill” and you can be famous.

  4. knot2bright says:

    Of all the phenomena that happen when a group comes together, one of the most fascinating I have found is how one person’s perspective can be so far removed from others in the group, and yet that same person readily speaks for them under the assumption that they are of one mind.

    For example, let’s choose something mundane to illustrate:
    I have been involved to some extent (rarely overnight, and less engaged now than previously) with Occupy Memphis since October as well, yet I have never heard of the Plaza referenced as “The Hill”. Seems like a simple, nit-picky thing, until you recognize that the author uses “we” to refer to a notion that the “we” with whom I am familiar never entertained. When you get deeper into this process, you notice that “we” is used an awful lot in cases where an “I” might more readily apply. What I’m saying is, this site is a place for people to tell their PERSONAL stories, and the above is exactly what this is. All references to “we”, then, must be taken with a grain of salt.

    The thing about personal stories is that they never, ever should be taken to speak for the whole of anything. In the worst case, the commonality becomes exaggerated until any dissent, on any topic, is an affront. Then we are right back where we started, screeching toward fascism with nowhere to turn but to each other (only, a different “each other” than we tried before) or ourselves alone. This is why even “honest” politicians get into trouble. They manage their image and their perception of things tightly, to keep “on message”, until they fail to realize that their constituencies have any reason to disagree with them, due to the disconnect they have created by generating this wall of sound. This leaves the people alienated and wondering if they have been backing the wrong horse all along, and more frequently lately, if there was ever a good horse to back at all, considering it is all a gamble.

    It is my personal feeling that this kind of presumptive BS is why transparency has become so treasured of late. No spin, no confusion.

    All of that being said, community is good. Community is beautiful and should be worked for at every chance. But community, in my opinion and that of at least some in the camp, is not about fostering dependency by having one or two persons do everything for you. Rather it is an opportunity – allowing a safe space for EVERYONE to become better and more competent in the stuff of life. Otherwise, a new oligarchy is born where only the best intentions were brought.

    Solidarity to those who would be their OWN new masters, and never try to annex their neighbors. 😉 k2b

  5. Eileen says:

    My family and I are just passing through Memphis and we couldn’t miss checking out the occupy. Last night was our first night we have ever occupied. It”s just incredible to camp out in front of city hall to stand up for your rights, and ask for a government that will help the people grow and make the world a better place. Who ever is writing this article is very impressive. Please don’t stop documenting and speaking to world about occupy. I heard that Michelle Obama is coming to city hall is there going to be a Rally?

  6. Ali says:

    Welcome to Memphis, and yes it is exhilarating. Yes, Michelle Obama is arriving Thursday at 11:30 am just down the street at the Cook Convention Center. I am working on some signs about the NDAA, HR347 & the UN’s DISAPPROVAL of the US treatment of OCCUPY . Glad you are here to join us. :)

  7. Former OM says:

    Is anyone else getting the impression the cook wrote this to be able to talk about themselves. No one else has any personal role in this article except the cook, who seems to be doing everything according to the author.

  8. Rose says:

    The article is definitely written by the cook. Probably half of the comments too.

    “Who ever is writing this article is very impressive… I heard that Michelle Obama is coming to city hall is there going to be a Rally?”

    Whew. Lucky the author was there to answer that question. It’s like an infomercial.

    Occupy Wall Street as an idea is good. Things need to change and people need to get off their butts to change them. It’s not all hearts and flowers and you shouldn’t be trying to look like it is. Be real, for God’s sake, and people might respect what you are doing.


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