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Response Letter to County Commissioners

Photo taken by Shande Wiest

A member of the Occupy movement responded to the latest move from the Missoula County Commissioners to create an ordinance that would prohibit camping on the courthouse lawn. That letter follows:

Greetings Commissioners and Esteemed Members of the Press!

This is an op-ed piece. Even though I have been empowered to write on behalf of the group — the people camping out on the Courthouse lawn — I’m writing here as an individual. A more specific response from the group addressing our grievances will be forthcoming. To be clear, though we have consulted an attorney, I won’t use language here that frames this discussion in legal terms outlining next-step options for us, or directly tackles the issues raised in your latest email. Again, these will be addressed in due time. I felt it necessary to appeal to you personally before we continue, lest I be guilty of using the very same kind of tactics I’d like to see changed. I don’t need a lawyer to talk to you all as persons of integrity. I see this as an opportunity for you to take a leadership position in our country. Just as we downtown do not want to squander our new-found visibility in our community, you too could stand up and make yourselves visible on the national stage as leaders who are addressing the real concerns of the people. And I don’t mean those with the loudest voices or deepest pockets. Of course there are going to be members of our community who misunderstand our intentions! Of course there are certain interests who would attempt to influence your decisions! This is how things are done in America today. The media hasn’t been doing its job of keeping us informed, as our forefathers knew was essential to true democracy. I am aware that many of your constituents have been taken in by the ruse that business as usual is the way to go. However, there are a great number of us who are deeply concerned about the path we’re on. I call
upon you to assist us in our endeavor to stop the divisiveness and polarization that keeps us in competition with one another rather than working cooperatively. It is in your power to do so. Use that
power wisely, dear Commissioners. Look in your hearts and ask yourselves if this path you’re on is really in the best interest of the people you represent.
I would ask the same of our local media. One of the best ways to achieve some understanding is to educate people. For any interested in getting
more information about the Occupy Movement or the issues that concern us, there is a trove of information on the internet. You may care to begin with our local pages; occupymissoula.org; the Facebook pages of Occupy the Oval, Occupy Missoula, Occupy Montana; or more broadly, OccupyWallSt.org and others. Many concerned citizens have posted links there to lead people to sites which explain concerns we want to bring to the public’s attention. I would encourage people to watch news that goes outside the mainstream media. The day I got DSL was the day my understanding of the
issues made an exponential leap! Use the internet. Look up Media Matters, Truthdig Radio, The Nation Magazine, or any number of sites such as this. Watch Democracy Now for a week instead of the corporate nightly news. Be curious! Be open-minded. Get a new perspective on things. There are countless ways to learn and understand what we in the Occupy Movement are trying to tell you. We’re here for a reason: We are asking people to pay attention to what’s really going on. Look behind the curtain! I would
strongly encourage the media to report on these issues. You were once young idealistic journalists who wanted to change the world, am I right? The timing couldn’t be better. I end with high hopes that you will be circumspect about your next actions. Give us a sign that you’re with us here, as the Missoula Cultural Council generously has, and other officials have privately. Please
support our actions and help us find a way that we might work together in peace, even if we disagree about certain particulars. We have broader support than is understood, and it could be allowed to flower if
you choose not to obstruct our progress. Let’s change the world together.

With deep respect,
Crystal Kingston
Member of the Occupy Movement

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