Here’s a dispatch from Jim Daly, one of the Occupy Providence activists who spent the the night protesting in front of the State House:
On September 16th and 17th Occupy is protesting outside of the State House. Over those two days Occupy Providence is supporting the Chicago Teachers’ Union strike and the anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. We are focusing on how those national issues are reflected locally. We are demanding that the Providence school board be elected and not appointed. We are focusing on how an austerity-driven budget will cause cuts to the Department of Labor and Training that will reduce unemployment claims to online customer claims only. These educational and economic issues are just examples of why the fights in Chicago and New York are national issues.
When we moved in there was a dispute with the state police about whether or not the sidewalk in front of the State House was state or city property. The state police were not going to let us protest overnight. We decided to stand our ground and stay in front of the State House. After speaking with our lawyer the state police agreed to let us remain outside of the state house. We held working group meetings planning our march which will happen today at 6pm from the State House to the URI building on Washington Street.
About 12 people stayed up until 3am in the morning talking about political issues and singing songs. After about 3am five people stayed outside the State House to protest overnight. We had a new member join us. Jennifer Goldman saw the Providence Journal article on us, found us on Facebook and became part of the overnight occupation. She is an Rhode Island native just coming back from Massachusetts. She was glad that Occupy Providence is still going strong. She felt the night by the State House, under the stars, was beautiful, and she felt safe knowing that law enforcement was congenial and not threatening.
Today’s rally will focus primarily on the Chicago Teachers’ Union strike. Updates are happening throughout today on the status of the strike, and direct action (protest planning) meetings will take place throughout the day leading up to the march which will take place at 6pm today (Monday) We are hoping to see as many people as possible.