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Occu-party set as protesters pull up stakes at city hall camp

Occupy Claremont is hosting one last hoorah as tents are taken down this week.

As the city’s camping ordinance goes into effect, prohibiting camping gear in public spaces, the city’s Occupiers are hosting a send off party at City Hall Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Occupy Claremont has decided to end the run of its encampment with live entertainment, free food and discussion.

“How would staying here and getting arrested push our cause forward? It wouldn’t,” said Occupier Andrew Mohr, who says the group will now focus its attention on fighting big banks, foreclosures and homelessness.

Saturday’s party is open to the public. Though some food will be provided, participants are encouraged to bring a potluck item to share. The Pilgrim Place Pickers and other musical performers will serenade guests and an open-mic session is also slated.

Despite closing down its encampment, Occupiers plan to continue their physical presence at city hall with or without the tents. Occupiers will still demonstrate in front of the City Council Chamber and will also look to expand their protest to the front of City Hall since participants will no longer have to worry about the tents, according to Mr. Mohr. Occupiers will likely protest 8 to 12 hours a day moving forward, he estimated.

“Now that we don’t have to worry about fighting over the tents we will focus on more actions throughout the city itself,” said Mr. Mohr, who gave the Sierra Club as a model of what Occupy Claremont hopes to achieve. Mr. Mohr and other group participants are currently working to get Occupy Claremont status as a 501(c)(3) non-profit tax-exempt organization. New components to the Occupy group will include programs to help the homeless and jobless.

Occupiers have already been busy at work compiling a census on the number of those living on the streets within the city. Occupier Gregory Toliver presented the list at last week’s council meeting.

“This merely begins a round of items on our local agenda,” said Mr. Toliver to the council. “We think the city has done a fairly good job, but we think that there is a great deal more that has to be done.”

Though Occupiers will continue to ask the city to grant exemption to its encampment, no formal action is currently being taken. Mr. Mohr remains hopeful the end of the encampment is only the beginning of a new chapter.

“There may come a time when we decide to take actions since we feel our First Amendment rights were stepped on, but right now that’s a very large fish to fry,” he said. “Right now we want to focus on helping the community in a positive manner.”

—Beth Hartnett

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