Today: Jul 14, 2024

Occupiers prepare for the winter

 REBECCA BAINERGeneral Assignment Reporter

What started as the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York has now spread to cities around the country, but protesters in New Haven, as well as other locations where the winter season is quickly approaching have an extra issue to consider—the temperature is dropping. But protesters said they aren’t concerned.

Sean Conlon of Derby is one of the protesters camping out on the New Haven green and he said protesters have been working to prepare for the upcoming winter and the cold weather.

“What we’re doing now is we’re going to get some regular foam insulation,” said Conlon, “raise tents up on crates or whatever and put that underneath and line the walls with maybe like Mylar or space blankets. Something like that, just to keep body heat in.”

Conlon said the most important thing right now is to stay warm, and people have been helpful with donations to make this possible, such as wool blankets. In addition to these donations, individuals who remain anonymous have helped with expenses for winterizing the equipment, said Conlon, but much of the equipment actually comes from protesters’ personal belongings.

“I bring things that I have if I have something that I’m not going to use and I think that we could use it here,” said Conlon. “I have a lot of my personal camping equipment and it’s the same with a lot of people.”

Protesters were using hay underneath their tents and space heaters to keep warm but Conlon said those items were taken away by fire officials. So now work is being done to think of new ideas.

“We’re gonna try to figure out an alternate method to heating the big common area,” said Conlon. “We’re talking about working with the engineering people at Yale to figure out a way to heat that place.”

The cold weather brings the risk of hypothermia, which according to MedicineNet is having a core body temperature less than 95 degrees Fahrenheit that most often occurs because of prolonged exposure to cold weather.

Protester Ray Neal of New Haven said he is not concerned about the health risks because protesters are aware of the dangers and there is usually a medic on site.

“We have a good, big solid crew that’s getting ready and getting the right gear,” said Neal. “We have ex-army guys here that have slept in the snow, so we’re going to be fine.”

Neal said he thinks that when the real winter weather begins it will be hard for some people but for those who are dedicated and stay, it will send a message.

“I think it’s going to show something,” said Neal. “I think a lot of folks probably thought we wouldn’t make it through the little snowstorm we had, but we’ll make it through the winter.”

Ellen D. Durnin, Ph.D., SCSU dean of the School of Business, said the unexpected growth of this movement proves that protesters most likely are not going anywhere anytime soon.

“I did not expect protesters to last this long or to expand across the United States,” said Durnin. “This is an indication of how deep the problem is and how strongly people feel. I believe that we will see a core of protesters remain through the winter.”

Durnin said students at Southern have been following the protests in class.

“Professors have been discussing this phenomenon in their classes with students,” said Durnin. “It is providing an important real-life lesson that is leading to provocative discussions on a number of levels.”

Durnin said protesters say they are looking for fair treatment for the 99 percent of the population who are not included in the wealthiest 1 percent.

“There is a perception that banks and investment firms have been bailed out, are prosperous again, but are not hiring or lending money to small and medium sized firms,” said Durnin. “So, the protesters say that the top 1 percent has again taken care of themselves on the backs of working Americans.”

With the recent Northeaster causing over 800,000 power outages Durnin said she was reminded of the Civilian Conservation Core that was established during the Great Depression to put Americans back to work.

“We need to hire unemployed Americans and train them to trim trees, repair bridges and highways and improve our infrastructure,” said Durnin. “This would provide work for the 9 percent who remain unemployed and give us the structural improvements we need. I look to our business students and faculty members to lead the way in this endeavor.”

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