Some of the occupants have jobs and others are homeless. Many of them want change.
Tom Kiefaber, the former owner of the Senator Theatre, wore a sign that said, “I am Revolting.” Kiefaber recently lost the Senator Theatre in foreclosure. He said that he is revolting because Baltimore is “one of the most corrupt cities in America. They took my job, they took my professional and personal reputation and they took my real estate all through manipulating the media.” Kiefaber’s “revolting sign” is an opening to discuss his opinions about Baltimore politics, the Senator Theatre, the media and the “Occupy Baltimore” movement.
Holly Brown is unemployed and on disability. Holly said that she is part of an international group called “Women in Black” who “stand vigil” to promote peace and justice. According to Holly, she stands at Light and Pratt streets while holding the Arabic peace sign, salam. She has participated in anti-was marches in Washington, D.C., said Holly.
Elise Heroux works in an organic grocery store and she said that she has spent every night at McKeldin Square for three weeks. According to Elise, she has attended the “Occupy Baltimore General Assembly.” She said that it is a “participatory democracy” and they don’t make decisions without a majority. For example, she said that The Department of Parks and Recreation gave the “occupiers” a list of rules. The occupiers told The Department of Parks and Recreation that any item they couldn’t agree on, “they would not do,” Heroux said.
Heroux said that some occupants participate in knitting workshops, but she has participated in the “De-escalation Workshop.” She said that the De-escalation Workshop teaches the occupiers to let their bodies “go limp” if police ask them to leave. She said that their body language is saying, “If you want me to move, move me.” She said that many times the police will pick you up and throw you in the street, but if you let your body become limp it will prevent a resisting – arrest charge.
William Lipscomb is homeless and has stayed at McKeldin Square from the start. “I cook, I clean and I do all kinds of other stuff so I am just trying to get everything figured out,” said Lipscomb. He said that four years ago he had a job washing cars and has looked for work at McDonalds’s, restaurants, gas stations and convenience stores.
Charles Ballweg stayed at McKeldin Square for three nights. He said that he cleans up the trash and cigarette butts. “I stay busy,” Ballweg said.
Some of the occupants carry 99 percent signs to protest the 1 percent top- income earners. Occupiers told me, they represent the 99 percent and the banks and wealthy are the 1 percent.