Occupy Raleigh caught its second wind during the Thanksgiving holiday when it made a deal to set up a tent city at the corner of West and Edenton streets.
The empty, park-like piece of land is owned by three separate companies. The tent city is confined to Playmaker Properties’ half-acre plot on the north end. An anonymous donor is renting the property from Playmaker Properties, LLC. The company wouldn’t confirm the terms of the agreement, but said a deal is in place.
Protestors, who moved to the new spot Friday, said the rent is $400 a month.
Occupy Raleigh is an offshoot of the 24-hour Occupy Wall Street protest that started in September and has spurred similar round-the-clock protests around the country. Recently, protests from Manhattan to Oakland have been evicted from their encampments.
Protestors in Raleigh plan to continue occupying the Capitol during the day, but now the property on West Street will become the base of operations, complete with a library, cooking facilities, a Porta Potty and tents.
“It’s going to be the foundation for the movement to start thinking about getting its message out, instead of thinking about where it’s going to put its stuff,” said 61-year-old retiree Joseph Huberman.
The new area isn’t as walker-friendly as the Capitol. It’s a triangular island with no sidewalks surrounded by three busy streets. Still, protestors said it’s better for signage and will be more visible to drivers.
But Occupy didn’t get its new home because the Playmaker Properties sympathized.
Rob Baumgart of Playmaker said Occupy doesn’t have a cohesive message.
“I’m not going to align myself with something that I don’t know what it stands for,” Baumgart said.
When asked if allowing Occupy to lease the property indicated some level of appreciation for the movement he said, “I appreciate capitalism enough to allow them to lease it.”
Regardless of the reason, Occupiers are grateful.
Charles Hancock, who took a year off from Virginia Commonwealth University to take part in Occupy, said having a base camp has increased overnight occupiers.
“There wasn’t as many people who were willing to stay on the sidewalk, whereas now we’ve had more and more people staying every night—usually anywhere from 15 to 20 people a night,” he said.
Shawn Ryan has stayed every night but three since the Raleigh occupation began Oct. 15.
“It’s a lot less stressful here. We don’t wake up every morning with cops kicking us in the feet,” Ryan said. “We used to go to sleep at 1 then wake up at 5:30 or 6:00 and take everything down. It was just getting overwhelming and monotonous.”