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Through Storm and Spook, the Occupation Continues

With cold weather fast approaching, demonstrators for Occupy Chapel Hill are preparing for new challenges. Occupiers, modeling their cause off the recent demonstrations on Wall Street, have pitched tents to occupy the sidewalks in front of the post office on Franklin Street. They aim to bring awareness about widespread issues such as economic disparity and unemployment to a grassroots level.

Though mother nature has looked kindly on them thus far, the weather on Friday evening called for some unfavorable rain. However, that didn’t hinder the protesters’ commitment; they just pitched more tarps and hoped for the best.

Justin Ferguson, a regular demonstrator, said that regardless they’ll soon have to be packing up for a time; the occupiers have volunteered to temporarily remove their set-up to avoid potential conflicts on Halloween.

Marcela Schuetler, a Ph.D. candidate at Duke University, says the occupiers’ main priorities are presence and safety. She thinks that remaining on Franklin Street during Halloween festivities would pose a threat to the latter, as they have experienced opposition on normal days without the added excitement of Halloween.

Despite these slight hindrances, the occupation has no signs of stopping. Ferguson said he and other demonstrators plan to reconvene very early on Monday morning after the hype of Halloween, and hopefully mother nature’s wrath, die down.

A large “Occupy Chapel Hill” banner hangs in front of the post office on Franklin Street. The banner encourages people to “be part of something too big to fail.”

Marcela Schuetler works on a note to send to local restaurants thanking them for their generous food donations to demonstrators. Mediterranean Deli and Vimala’s Curryblossom Café have been big contributors.

Justin Ferguson shakes out a tarp in preparation for the incoming rain. Justin’s commitment to Occupy Chapel Hill stems from his belief that “we are seeing a rise in economic disparity …  and our quality of life is going down.” He thinks that the demonstrators’ physical occupation of Franklin Street is strongly symbolic of a much-needed sense of community during these hard economic times.

Amanda Ashley, Marylou Bethune and Marcela Schuetler take a break from cleaning up and preparing for rain to pose for a quick photo. They said the time they spend demonstrating for Occupy Chapel Hill varies but they each try to come and show support for several hours each day.

The American flag flies just above an Occupy Chapel Hill poster that emphasizes national pride, reminding passersby of the American way and encouraging a sense of community.

All photos taken by Jade Poteat

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