Burlington, VT–Occupy Burlington and their supporters, to pay their respect to Joshua Pfenning, a homeless man and a participant of Occupy Burlington, who once served in the military, held a candlelight vigil and memorial tonight. Pfenning committed suicide yesterday.
At this point the Occupy Burlington encampment is cordoned off by by police tape. No one is allowed to stay in their tents.
The Burlington Free-Press reported that earlier in the day: “Police Chief Michael Schirling, speaking at a press briefing at the police department’s North Avenue headquarters, said the shooting Thursday afternoon and the near-riot later that night had convinced him that the public’s safety cannot be assured unless the encampment is disbanded.”
Tina Goldman an Occupy Burlington supporter said later, ” So I guess this means if a homeless person commits suicide at a homeless shelter, officer Shirling would have everyone in the shelter thrown out on the street and have the shelter shut down. This is utterly ridiculous.”
Occupy Burlington, now all homeless, will discuss their next steps tomorrow.
Note: This is our third post in the spirit of Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement’s Western Fall by showing a music video a day until this weekend from the prolific songwriter and singer, David Rovics.
And since this is Veterans Day, please watch the ‘Song for Bradley Manning’ immediately following the ‘John Brown’ music video, especially in the light of the Occupy Burlington (Vermont) homeless military veteran who took his own life yesterday. And Kayvan Sabehgi, the second Iraq war veteran hospitalized following involvement in Occupy Oakland protests. Another veteran, Scott Olsen, suffered a fractured skull also in Oakland. How many veterans have committed suicide, hospitalized or are amongst the walking wounded? No wonder there is talk of revolution in the air.
-Orin Langelle for the GJEP Team
Note: The latest information is that Josh was a military veteran-Orin Langelle for GJEP in Vermont.
Today, November 10th at 2pm, Josh, a valued member of Occupy Burlington and the houseless community, took his own life at the encampment. We want to take this moment to offer our thoughts and condolences to Josh’s family, and to the members of the Occupy community who got to know Josh over the last two weeks.
The thoughts and prayers of everyone in the encampment are with his friends and family. We appreciate the support we have received from the Burlington community, the country, and the world. We ask for everyone’s continued support and solidarity as we deal with this tragedy.From the first day of the encampment, we have welcomed all members of the community by providing anyone in need with food, shelter, and social support. Despite our best efforts to provide care and support to all members of the community, occupations are not equipped with the infrastructure and resources needed to care for the most vulnerable members of our community. The lack of resources to care for those in need was brought to the attention of Burlington city leaders. Unfortunately, our plea for assistance was not heeded in time to help Josh.This tragedy draws attention to the gross inequalities within our system. We mourn the loss of a great friend tonight, while discovering an ever-deeper resolve to stand with our most vulnerable citizens. The failure to provide citizens with adequate and accessible physical and mental healthcare is one of the many issues this movement is fighting for.
Again, our thoughts and prayers are with everyone reeling from this loss and we deeply appreciate everyone who has offered support, compassion, and solidarity. It is our hope that this tragedy will serve as a rallying cry for occupations around the country to continue the fight for system change.
Photos by Orin Langelle for Global Justice Ecology Project
Burlington, VT–Several hundred people marched and rallied in support of the Oakland General Strike, while expressing their outrage at the current state of affairs in Vermont and elsewhere. The march was led by unions along with Occupy Burlington participants, students and supporters. The march left from the Occupy Burlington encampment in City Hall Park, stopping at the University of Vermont (UVM) library, where the AFL-CIO and the Industrial Workers of the World met up with United Academics. The group then invaded the UVM’s administration building where a coffin was placed in the halls at the Day of the Dead altar, representing the death of the soul of UVM, whose last president received hundreds of thousands of dollars when he left the university after his wife was involved in a sex scandal. UVM has a history of letting high level executives go with giant severance packages while UVM employees and teachers salaries stagnate and student tuitions go up – exacerbating the debt load on graduates.
Protesters then marched back to City Hall and held a speak-out on its steps adjacent to City Hall Park where the Occupy Burlington encampment is. There was a unanimous call for solidarity with the Oakland General Strike and in protest of last week’s police brutality in Oakland, including the injuring of Iraq Veteran Scott Olson. The failure of capitalism was strongly critiqued by the speakers as a failed system where workers suffer to make the rich richer. There was talk of a potential occupation of UVM as this crisis escalates.
Video from Al Jazeera about the Oakland Occupation below
NOTE: GJEP stands in solidarity with the Oakland General Strike. Shut it Down. We will provide coverage today, including photos and commentary later in the day from GJEP’s Communication Director, Jeff Conant, who runs GJEP’s Oakland office. Of course that depends on what occurs during the General Strike and Jeff’s access to upload to Climate Connections. Last night GJEP’s Anne Petermann and Orin Langelle did a Non Violent Direct Action training for Occupy Burlington. Occupy Burlington will have a march and rally today in solidarity with the Oakland General Strike. It will be an interesting day. The video below is from Al Jazeera English:
Protesters in Oakland, California are planning to try and shut down the city’s port – the fifth-busiest shipping container port in the United States, in what they are calling a general strike on Wednesday.
The protesters are part of the ‘Occupy’ movement sweeping the world in which people are rallying to stop, amongst other things, corporate greed.
Al Jazeera’s Rob Reynolds reports from Oakland.
Note: At the first General Assembly of the Occupy Burlington encampment, GJEP ED Anne Petermann grounded the space in the history of the Indigenous Peoples of the region: the Abenaki. She opened the circle by stating, via “people’s mic” that, “the land that this encampment is on is the traditional land of the Abenaki People. This land was never ceded, never signed away in a treaty, but was stolen. It has been occupied by the state of Vermont. In 1992 the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that any rights the Abenaki People had to their traditional lands was no longer valid due to “the increasing weight of history. For these reasons, I am asking the Occupy Burlington encampment to recognize that this land is Abenaki land.” The proposal was met with nearly unanimous twinkling of fingers supporting it.
The GJEP Team
Video: Occupy Burlington general assembly from the Burlington Free Press [Please ignore the short sponsor advert in the beginning-The GJEP Team.]
PDF: Letter from Burlington Mayor’s office to Occupy Vermont after next two photos.
- Occupy Burlington takes over City Hall Park and spends the night. The city of Burlington issued ground rules to the Occupy Burlington crowd Friday afternoon with officials saying they do “not object to your use of the park” until midnight — City Hall Park’s official closing time — and reminding the protesters that camping is not allowed in the park, which is closed from midnight until 6 a.m. “However,”read the statement, signed by Mayor Bob Kiss, “in light of the circumstances, so long as the rules are complied with and no other public health and safety concerns arise, either internally or externally from the gathering, the City will take a wait and see approach as to enforcement of the camping ban while we carefully monitor the situation.” photo: Langelle/GJEP
Full Mayor Kiss Letter from Burlington Mayor’s office to Occupy Vermont
On Saturday, 2011 over 500 people participated in the October 15th Global Day of Action in Burlington, VT. Other rallies and marches happened in the VT towns of Montpelier, Rutland and Brattleboro. The following photographs were taken in Burlington by Orin Langelle from Global Justice Ecology Project: