Occupy Fairbanks sees reward for winter perseverance
Fernanda Chamorro/Sun Star Reporter
Feb. 14, 2012
Occupy Fairbanks survived the harsh Alaska winter and won a national contest hosted by Occupy Supply, which will bring renowned
military LGBT rights activist Lt. Dan Choi to Fairbanks. On Jan. 29, CNN circulated a video of a Fairbanks Occupier on its website. Occupy Supply provided CNN with the video, which shows 24-year-old linguistics student Forrest Andresen protesting by hold two signs that read “STOP BUYING IT” and “IN CAPITALIST AMERICA, BANK ROBS YOU!” outside of UAF in minus 43 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sleeping outside and protesting while wearing only underwear and boots in
cold weather is finally paying off for protestors. Occupy Fairbanks won $5,000 Command Post tents for their “outstanding community activism,” according to the Firedoglake blog founder Jane Hamsher. They are among four other tent winners in New York City, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Flint, Mich. that Occupy Supply announced on Feb. 6. More than 150 occupations submitted writings and open voting in rounds. eliminated most the competition. Some of the occupations selected for tents were shut down and will be receiving laptops instead of tents to inspire them to continue. Other prizes won by occupations included laptops and $100 to spend at the Occupy Supply store.
Choi will present the tents to the protesters and will hold a tent-raising ceremony at each winner’s location to show his support and celebrate their hard work
in March. He is a West Point graduate who handcuffed himself to the White House fence to protest the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy after he got discharged from the Army for admitting he was gay on national TV.
Occupy Fairbanks members are excited to have Choi representing them because
they think he will draw a crowd, they said. They see a veteran putting up a tent for their organization in the Veteran’s Memorial Park as meaningful and symbolic. They are also grateful for the new, bigger tent, they said.
David Leslie, a 23-year-old
journalism student and Occupy Fairbanks activist, sees Choi as a rallying point for the military and LGBT. “Because he’s a gay veteran and has been in war, he’s gonna bring out the best in both,” he said.
Occupy Fairbanks members had one of their bigger struggles when their Port-a-Potty was removed by the borough on Jan. 19. However, they are not giving up hope and this reward has given them the little push that they needed.
“All of us knew that people were just waiting to say ‘I knew they would leave when it gets cold’ and we just wanted to prove them wrong you know?” Leslie said. “And especially after they took away our Port-a-Potty, what else are we gonna do except just be there better?”