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Occupy's future in question as Madison camp closes

By   /   April 12, 2012  /   7 Comments

By Kirsten Adshead | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON — Occupy Madison participant Lyle Siebert Jr. said it himself.

“For me, it’s not a political thing,” said Siebert, who has been encamped at the Madison Occupy site on East Washington Avenue since losing his job and home this past winter. “I came down here out of necessity. I can think of better places to be, but I can think of worse.”

The end of days are coming for Occupy Madison, or at least for the encampment, which the City of Madison said must be cleared out by noon April 30 to make room for redevelopment of the site. 

In one sense, the encampment has become exactly what its critics had feared: a highly visible eyesore for the homeless to gather, pitch tents and, in a few instances, cause trouble.

For others, however, the gathering of a large number of the homeless alongside one of Madison’s main thoroughfares is a highly visible example of what the Occupy movement represents: These people are the 99 percent who, Occupiers say, are being rejected and overrun by the 1 percent of the world’s people who control the money and power.

Many in the Occupy Madison camp are homeless. 

“When I first got involved with this, I thought too much effort was being spent on the site and not enough on political (efforts),” said Allen Barkoff, who helps with the Occupy Madison effort but does not stay in the encampment.

But, Barkoff said, “homelessness is visible evidence of the inequalities in society. They (homelessness and the Occupy movement) are inextricably linked.”

Their futures might be, too.

Barkoff was at the encampment Thursday afternoon when a group of officials from the city, including representatives from Mayor Paul Soglin’s office and the police department, arrived.

The relationship between the City of Madison and the Occupy movement has been mostly cordial.

The City Council earlier this month approved a resolution thanking the Occupy Madison movement for its contributions to Madison, such as its inclusion of homeless people. 

But there are tensions, too.

The Occupiers want the city to allow them to relocate the camp, a request that has thus far been denied.

City officials asked Barkoff and others to begin distributing notices to the 50 or so occupants of the encampment, indicating that camping will not be allowed as of April 30 and that “All tents, gear, equipment, structures, vehicles, possessions must be removed. Any items remaining on this site after 12 noon April 30 will be considered abandoned.”

“The city is not going to provide another site,” said Sally Miley, Soglin’s assistant.

Siebert spoke while staying warm next to a heater, which, residents said, they were told not to use two days ago due to a temporary city ban on outdoor fires.

As the residents of the Occupy Madison camp ponder their future, so do leaders of the Occupy Madison movement.

They have scheduled an all-day workshop Saturday at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The workshop includes training on nonviolent civil resistance, fighting against the foreclosure crisis and staying safe in mass street protests.

A message posted on the Occupy Madison Direct Action Committee’s Facebook page reads: “When the spectacle of the 2012 elections is over … when fundamental economic and social problems remain unresolved, and when the weak economy takes another nose-dive … we can expect further outpourings of popular protest and challenges to the rule of the 1%. Therefore now is the time for advocates of the 99% to re-group, reflect, and prepare.”

Asked whether Occupy Madison has accomplished goal, Siebert asked, “What’s the goal?”

“Right here, right now, today? (The campers’ goal is) survival,” he said. “We’re eating. A lot of people are trying to get to school. A lot of people are trying to get to work.”


  • Dick Dastardly

    Since this “occupy” outfit has distilled out to be homeless, and now have lost their camp they need to move to new camps. I suggest the lawns of Soglin, Erpenbach, Barca, Miller, Hulsey, Baldwin and Falk. Others of our famous socialists should feel free to offer their lawns also. The Occupy Campers should have access to their homes to use the restrooms, thus saving the City of Madison money on porta-potties. These well meaning politicos could put some skin in the game that they have been encouraging.

    Let’s hear it Madison liberals. How are you going to help these poor unfortunate comrades in their time of need. After all, isn’t it your creed? From each according to his ability and to each according to his need.



    Dick – They could never allow that to happen as most of them are actually a part of the 1% that they claim that they are so against… After all, good intentions far outweigh actually fixing anything…don’t they?

    Maybe if Soglin, Erpenbach, Barca, Miller, Hulsey, Baldwin and Falk and others of our famous socialists in and around Madison would just donate only half of their collective wealth to these poor downtrodden 99%er’s all would be just swell in the future in Mad Town forever and ever…amen!

    Come on and put your collective money where your collective mouths are or just do like Dick says and let them campout in your yards and use your collective facilities to take care of their bodily functions and needs. Maybe you all could start feeding them 3 squares a day at your collective dining room tables too!

    The challenge has been issued! You all talk the great fight!

    Now then…Bring on your stated fighting for the little guy and actually do something for them collectively with your own collective money and property… not ours (Government money)!

    I’ll bet you Scott Walker being re-elected as Governor of our great state that you folks will never ever find it in your collective hearts to actually do something like this for those in that lower class than you socialist/communist/liberal/hypocritical 1%ers in and around Madison!


  • John Bostrom

    Hooray to Dick and WI Voter for you on target voice for reason in WI. It is now one day later at 7:00 PM + on April 14 and not a peep has been offered from all of the above mentioned socialist 1% ers’ for their support for these front liners in need of meals and shelter. So sad that they have been had again by their bretheren to lead them down the path with their misunderstanding of the real world.

    Soglin, Erpenbach, Barca, Miller, Hulsey, Baldwin and Falk ……where is your response to your bretheren?


    April 20th: Still no published word on how the Soglin, Erpenbach, Barca, Miller, Hulsey, Baldwin and Falk and others of our famous socialists in and around Madison group have collectively responded with open wallets and ungated personal property to come to aid and comfort of those poor downtrodden 99%er’s that so desperately need their support now that they have no place to call home according to this news article. Come on lead by example! Show us how to give them what they need with your own money and property and stay the hell out of the tax payers money in fixing this little problem that you have so loudly proclaimed as your fight and struggle, too. Progressive your way right down to where they are currently hanging out and invite them into your homes and bank accounts as the belief is from each according to their ability to each according to their need.


    That will fix everything and make it all just go away and be all warm and fuzzy forever!

    I double dare you Governor Scott Walker’s fair, ID verified, re-election! Not a hair on your collective Progressive asses (donkey’s)…!


    April 29th:

    Still no word from that 99% group as to how the Collective Progressive Peoples in the upper 1% of Wisconsin society have stepped up to just give them all of the things that they really need from their own shamefully hoarded money and properties that they abhore the Conservative Capitalist upper 1%er’s for having and keeping all for themselves…

    WHY NOT???

    Come on all of you self-rightiuos 1% Progressives and lead from the front!

    Show us all just how compassion for the downtrodden really works by giving them your stuff first so that you can honestly say that others should be giving them their stuff, too…


    May 5th:

    STILL… No new news on this shameful abuse of power, money, and property by those 1%er’s who jsut refuse to share!



    May 8th: