May 2012-December 2012
On April 30th, 2012 the permit for East Washington ended and Occupy Madison holds a rally. The final day of the 800 East Washington encampment went as planned without any issues! Left with no legal option, six people from the encampment move to Token Creek County Park in Burke, WI to continue living with the safety of the community. Others retreat to the smaller illegal locations around the city or the benches downtown.
The special permit allowing OM to stay at East Washington expired at the end of April. There was, however, no other place homeless people could live with each other with the benefits, security, and stability of community.
The agitation of OM in the weeks before the removal from camp helped lead to the formation of the Homeless Issues Committee. This is a government committee made up of County Board Supervisors, Madison Alders, agency directors, and individuals who experience housing difficulties, including three members of Occupy.
OM's extended network pulled together on the last day of camping on East Wash and held a march and rally to the City-County Building.
OM filed a restraining order to attempt to stay on the property, but the case was unsuccessful. The people of the camp worked with the city police to plan an orderly end to the encampment. People began removing unessential tents and gear a week before the end of the encampment. Thirty people volunteered on the final day to remove the remaining tents and gear.
Spring, Summer, Fall 2012
Due to distance and transportation limitations, the encampment decided to move to Lake Farm Park. The camp swells to 25. Members of OM appeared at city and county meetings all summer to make government aware of the issue of criminalizing homelessness. During autumn, the camp population varies between 10 and 30 people. The camp moves for 2 days every 14 days to comply with campground regulations.
County Parks
The summer of 2012, members of OM moved to the county parks. The residents and allies lobbied the county for resolutions to change the camping regulations to allow some stability for people. These resolutions were killed. Here are some numbers from that summer:
70 different people used the campgrounds
50 people stayed for over a week
17 people achieved some type of housing
$3,500 in donations and $1,000 from the residents was used to pay camping fees and keep the camp legal as a home for people. Additional time and money was required to continuously move the camp to stay in compliance.
MUM Report
County Board asks Madison Urban inistries to submit a report on the state of homelessness and gaps in the system. Many people involved in OM meet weeklyto help complete this report. MUM delivered the report to the county board with a list of responses icluding suggestions for a new location for an encampment. The report went nowhere after that.
Late 2012
Legal options end when county parks closed. Faced with no legal options, the encampment votes to move back to 800 East Washington. The City posts no trespassing signs. City extends eviction date, when finally the camp votes to move to Lake View County Park. The County then forcibly relocates the Occupy encampment to Token Creek County Park at a cost of $11,000.
Not In My Backyard
After its second eviction from East Wash, the camp moved to Lake View County Park. Lake View sits next to the Dane County Human Services building and in front of a vacant building perfect for providing shelter. Unfortunately, it also sat in the middle of an incredibly angry neighborhood.
The county decides not to engage in a meaningful dialogue with the occupants. Over a 7 day period the county escalates written warnings eventually leading to a late night event that included tickets. Two days before removing people, the county issues a written offer to move to Token Creek Park. The people of the encampment were prepared to discuss options and move to a practical location. Instead, they were forced to accept a remote location, the street, or the wrath of the shelter. The county ignored attempts at communication and physucally removed people from Lake Farm and moved their belongings to Token creek using force and intimidation.