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Occupy Salt Lake to celebrates six months on Friday

Published: Thursday, April 5 2012 6:54 p.m. MDT

Camp of Occupy Salt Lake City camp sits next to Gallivan Plaza in downtown where the six-month anniversary protest is coming up and will soon move to Library Square, Wednesday, April 4, 2012, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Occupy Salt Lake City, a protest movement modeled after Occupy Wall Street in New York City, is celebrating six months of activity by a downtown march Friday.

All that remained of the movement on Wednesday was about a dozen urban campers in Gallivan Center in the process of moving to the Salt Lake Main Library.

But Occupy Salt Lake, which lost dozens of members with the onset of winter and its forced relocation from Pioneer Park to Gallivan Plaza, is still retaining activists and support. And though the movement hasn't caused any major policy changes since its inception, the community has provided unique meaning to those involved.

“Most people gather [in Salt Lake] through the church or mass consumption,” said Seth Neily, a camper in Gallivan Plaza, referencing the crowds shopping at the newly opened City Creek Center a few blocks away.

The occupy protests give other people “a sense of purpose … a sense of community,” Niely said.

Isaac Hoppe had been unemployed for more than two years before seeing a flyer for Occupy Salt Lake. After joining, Hoppe found a job through someone at the camp and now talks to people about the importance of skills training.

"Other than educating myself about politics and economics, it had practical results," said Hoppe.

And the community itself was one goal, and success, for Hoppe.

“It is an opportunity to model new communities,” he said.

“Part of the magic of the whole movement was the physical commons where you could meet people. It brought people together,” said Jake Hanson, an organizer with Peaceful Uprising, an activist organization focusing on climate issues.

One result of the "Occupiers" was a surge in activist networking. Hanson said his organization saw a bump of involvement with Occupy Salt Lake.

Peaceful Uprising organized a protest during a Department of Environmental Quality public hearing using Occupy members.

Charles Bernard attended the first Occupy march in October and was at the camps everyday after that.

While there, he became interested in local food production and now volunteers at community gardens two to three times a week.

Occupy members were known to frequently volunteer at One World Cafe's community garden before it closed, Bernard said.

Occupy Salt Lake plans to protest a visit by the limited government American Legislative Exchange Council on April 12 and support a May 1 general labor strike.

E-mail: jhigginbottom@desnews.com

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