Occupy Cleveland has no intention of giving up its tent village on Public Square, but it has succumbed to the corporate trappings of a real office. The group moved into rented space in the City Club building about two weeks ago and plans to throw a public office-warming party as soon as security issues are worked out.
“We are very proud to be in the City Club — the citadel of free speech,” says Occupy’s Leatrice Tolls. “It behooves us to have a permanent base of operations indoors.” Besides, the incessant holiday music at Public Square was proving to be a detriment to effective meetings. “It’s the same four songs over and over,” she says.
For now, the office serves as a warm spot for volunteers to discuss their various causes. Occupy Cleveland is paying the rent out of its pool of donations, which Tolls says is considerable. The group is also penning a request for additional funds from the granddaddy of the movement: Occupy Wall Street, which apparently is doing gangbuster business.
Whether or not Occupy Cleveland gets an extra $20 grand from New York, it plans to keep its focus on foreclosures. “A big tooth in our pitchfork is the foreclosure issue here in Cleveland,” Tolls says. A last-minute Occupy campout last month successfully delayed one West Side foreclosure, but the group would like to spend more on programs to help homeowners avert foreclosure well in advance of the sheriff’s arrival.
Other vestiges of Corporations Gone Wrong on the agenda are environmental issues like fracking for natural gas, and maybe Walmart. “We don’t like Walmart too much,” says Tolls. “There may be some things we focus on with them.”
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