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Occupy OKC protesters, Oklahoma City officials strike peaceful agreement

Occupy protests across the country have turned violent between participants and police, but Oklahoma City officials say they have maintained a peaceful relationship with protesters.

Unlike their counterparts in some other cities, Oklahoma City officials have found a way to work cooperatively with Occupy protesters, even going so far as to bend a city ordinance.

For more than a month, Kerr Park has been occupied by members of a protest movement concerned with economic inequality.

It is against city ordinances to stay overnight in the park and use tents, but the city and local Occupy leadership reached an agreement to let the protesters stay there around the clock as long as they pay permit fees, keep the park clean and follow other rules, Assistant Oklahoma City Manager M.T. Berry said Wednesday.

About a dozen protesters have been living in tents at Kerr Park at Robert S. Kerr and N Broadway avenues. Justin Myer, 37, said he's been with Occupy OKC for five days and has seen more people join them in the evenings.

“It's not about right and left; it's right and wrong,” Myer said.

Violence in other cities

Police in Tulsa, Portland, Ore.; New York City, Oakland, Calif.; Columbia, S.C.; San Diego, and elsewhere have gone into Occupy encampments and forcibly removed protesters. Officials in various cities have participated in conference calls to discuss concerns over unsanitary and even dangerous conditions involved with the protests.

Berry said he participated in a conference call Nov. 2 with leaders from cities that are members of the Large Cities Executive Forum to discuss strategies on how to handle the Occupy movement.

“Every city was having somewhat of a different response. It really depended on the size of the Occupy movement and the location of whatever park or area that they decided to occupy,” Berry said. “It went anywhere from what was going on in Oakland to what was going on here, which was drastically different.”

Oklahoma City police Master Sgt. Gary Knight said officers have no plans to move protesters out of the park.

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