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Occupy Vt. ready to set up in City Hall Park - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Occupy Vt. ready to set up in City Hall Park

Burlington, Vermont - October 25, 2011

Occupy Vermont Protesters will camp out in City Hall Park Friday and for weeks to come if police allow it. The park has a midnight curfew that protesters intend to break.

Jonathan Leavitt grew up on a Vermont farm that's been in his family for more than a century. When the recession hit, the family couldn't make ends meet and their bank foreclosed on the property. "That bank got a bailout from the federal government of the U.S. If you don't make it as a farmer here in Vermont, you don't get a bailout, you get your farm foreclosed on," he said.

With personal history against big banks, Leavitt leads the Occupy Vermont movement, in support of Occupy Wall Street. "We can't let the big corporations that run this country tell us that we're doing things wrong when all we're trying to do is take back a little bit of that Democracy from them," Leavitt said.

After occupying Burlington the past four Sundays, the movement will become a full time project Friday. Fifty Occupy Vermont protesters plan to camp out in City Hall Park starting Friday. Police say as long as they're peaceful they don't intend to kick them out. "My job is to ensure their safety as well as the safety of anybody else who might be interested in using that park or any other parts of the city," said Burlington Police Chief Andi Higbee. Higbee says the main concern is keeping the park public so the farmer's market and the Queen City Ghost Walk aren't pushed out by protesters.

"It's a really big park and the farmers market doesn't utilize all of it, so we have had a lot of great conversations about how we can respect their space and utilize our rights to democratically assemble," Leavitt said.

Higbee says protesters have been very open with the police department thus far and have kept rallies peaceful as promised.

"Vermonters have a real respect for those basic rights, so I'm really optimistic that the same will be true this weekend," Leavitt said.

City Hall Park has a curfew -- keeping people out after midnight. Higbee says they'll only enforce the curfew if they have to.

"Once we get to that point, we'll make that decision then. We don't have anything steadfast right now or any plans to take any action," he said.

Protesters will meet Wednesday to iron out details regarding amenities and food for the camp out. The mayor's office did not respond to a request for comment on the planned protest.

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