The Occupy Memphis camp site is no more in the Civic Center Plaza.
The city of Memphis evicted those at the protest site across from City Hall this morning at dawn after giving those in the small encampment two hours to leave and dismantle it.
The city acted because of what it termed health and safety issues. Some in the camp were using the water wall as a restroom according to the city. There is also the coming renovation and maintenance work on the Main Street Mall coming with the federal funding the city recently got to tie Main Street to Broadway in West Memphis with the Harahan Bridge boardwalk as the link between the two.
Occupy had several dozen campers at its peak which came early in the movement that spread across the country from the Occupy Wall Street protests in the fall of 2011.
But the Memphis movement was never about large numbers or a lot of the identifying elements of Occupy movements in other cities.
We talked about that in our February cover story for The Memphis News.
The challenges of relevant tactics in protest today are formidable enough without adding the elements of a protest movement that also decides to become a community.
The Occupy movement in Memphis was as unique as the city’s culture of protest. It leaves behind some lingering questions like the best way to involve the homeless directly in a movement that was in large part about the problems of the homeless.
The Occupy campsite found itself regarded as a shelter at several points during its life of not quite a year. And those who came to protest found they were also having to implement the rules that come with running a shelter, as they struggled mightily for a consensus on tactics. They even had to call the police several times to deal with the issues of daily life together.
In the reporting of our cover story we happened on an interesting moment when the group met to evict some of the campers and exile them to a place on the mall where it would be clear to the police that these were not people who were part of Occupy.
Occupy formed a bus riders union. Occupy Memphis also forged a political alliance with the Memphis Police Association during the budget season this past spring that ruled out the kind of violent protests and civil disobedience that were used by other occupy movements.