The occupy Salt Lake oral history project is part of the Everett L. Cooley oral history collection, ACCN 0814.
- Stacey Allen
Allen runs the kitchen for Occupy Salt Lake. She is not politically involved with the protests. She got involved as a volunteer because she was living at Pioneer Park with her husband and saw that they needed help with the kitchen. Because she has experience working in kitchens she decided to take over. The protest has a lot of support from local businesses who donate food, tents, blankets, and supplies. Local people are also donating supplies as well as volunteering and protesting. Because they don’t have electricity or water much of the food must be cooked away from the park and brought back. The police and government have been supportive. People from other Occupy protests across the country come to help and swap stories.
- Rachel Carter
Carter was arrested during the Salt Lake City Police Department’s raid of the Occupy Salt Lake City encampment at Pioneer Park on November 12, 2011. Interestingly enough, the previous night was her first night camping at the park, and she made the decision to camp due to her disagreement with the announcement that the park would be evacuated. She has been politically active for a number of years, beginning with her involvement in political campaigns. Her interest in the Occupy Salt Lake City was at least partially inspired by her work with Peaceful Uprising. She speaks primarily to her concerns over the raid on Pioneer Park, which threatens a key aspect of the movement’s right to free speech—that key aspect being the physical occupation itself. However, she also addresses the potential of the raids in Salt Lake City and other cities to spark creativity in the movement.
This anonymous interviewee, a Saint Louis native who was the first person arrested the night the police took down the tents at Occupy Salt Lake, describes her work in the Occupy movement, especially in the kitchen, conflicts in the movement and what she sees as its deep and abiding flaws, the experience of being arrested, and finishes with an exploration of the impacts of being arrested on the middle-class white people she sees as the primary members of Occupy SLC versus those less privileged. She feels that the conservative political and social climate in Salt Lake City along with an overemphasis on small individual issues compromised the movement, but likes that it brought together people who wanted to actually change what she sees as a deeply flawed system. She discusses the kitchen operations, the taking down of the tents, and also what she sees as the disenfranchisement of the homeless, marginalized denizens of Pioneer Park by the Occupiers.
Fish is from Florida. She discusses her involvement with Occupy Salt Lake City, at protests and organizer meetings. She talks about her motivations for becoming involved and the goals of the movement as she sees them. Gail also talks about her future plans to participate in Occupy Salt Lake City and plans that the movement itself has.
- Deborah Henry
Born in New Jersey and with a family from New York City, Deb Henry came to Salt Lake City for quality of life reasons. She has a history of activism and has been involved with Tim DeChristopher and Peaceful Uprising. She took part in the Power Shift gatherings, worked on the Claudia Wright campaign, and became interested in Occupy Wall Street during its infancy. When she traveled to Ireland and saw the growth of an Irish Occupy movement as well, she became more intrigued and thus got involved in Occupy SLC. She talks about the male-skewed gender ratio at Occupy SLC, comments on the large amount of homeless veterans and what she sees as the government’s failure to help them, and describes the Occupiers’ relationship with the police and mayor’s office, which she feels positive about. Inspired by Tim DeChristopher’s civil disobedience, Deb focuses personally on reminding people of their personal power and raising awareness about the unequal access to education. She also describes the Occupy SLC movement’s outreach methods, including social media and texting. Ultimately Deb believes the American Dream requires a fair playing field and there isn’t one.
- Kimberly Kasey
Kasey was born in 1970 at Walson Army Hospital in New Jersey, and moved to Utah as a child when her grandfather took an assignment as a contractor for the Air Force. Kimberly became involved with the Occupy Salt Lake movement, taking part in marches and rallies. After Pioneer Park was closed to the movement, Kimberly became a liaison between Occupy Salt Lake and Occupy Ogden. She describes the excitement involved in starting the Occupy Ogden movement from the ground-up and also speaks to the logistics of the small Ogden camp, as of the date of the interview located on the front lawn of the Universalist Unitarian Church. She summarizes her issues of concern relative to the Occupy movement, which include: corruption in the government and monopolization of economic sectors. Kimberly also traces the intersection of the homeless population, and other disenfranchised groups, and their involvement or lack of involvement with the movement.
- Melanie Martin
Martin discusses her involvement with the Occupy Salt Lake City movement. She has been working as a co-producer for street theater performances that represent the Occupy movement’s politics. Melanie also talks about her experiences with the Occupy community. She describes some specific issues Occupy Salt Lake City is working to address, such as homelessness. Melanie discusses her predictions for the movement’s future, both locally and nationally.
- Tara Bueche Robbins
Robbins is a realtor who became involved with Occupy Salt Lake City after reading about the movement, in New York City and elsewhere, on alternative news websites. Originally, she was drawn to the protest by its challenge to the “Big Bank” system that has played such a significant role in the decline in the American economy. Since her initial involvement, like most people participating in Occupy, she has developed a number of other points of contention, all brought to bear in her activism. Tara observes the changes that have taken place since the closing of the Pioneer Park encampment. She also criticizes the city and police department’s decision to close the park and the way that they went about dismantling the camp. Tara has a history of political activism, beginning with her support of women’s reproductive rights. Her grandmother died in an illegal abortion, and Tara and her mother have been involved in protests and other political efforts that support a woman’s right to choose.
- Heather Suker
Suker (b. 1987) has been involved in political activism for about three years, beginning with her participation with Peaceful Uprising and its support of Tim DeChristopher's civil disobedience. She served on the Board of Directors of Peaceful Uprising and learned about Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Salt Lake City through her involvement with this group. After learning about Occupy Wall Street, Heather traveled across the country and spent about a week at Occupy Wall Street. She describes how her experience in New York City inspired her to play a significant role in the unfolding Occupy Salt Lake City movement. Heather spent several days camping on the sidewalks outside of Salt Lake City's Federal Reserve building, and she outlines the struggle of Occupy Salt Lake City to claim a permanent space from which to protest. She details the cooperation between protesters and the Salt Lake police force, highlighting Police Commissioner Burbank's willingness to negotiate with protesters. Heather expresses her optimism for the movement's future and the changes it might lead to.
- Sharon Anne Wade
Wade discusses her involvement with Occupy Salt Lake City and her motivations for participating in the movement. She worked as a homeless advocate. Sharon describes her experience at Pioneer Park and characterizes the relationships between the protestors, the homeless, and the police. She details the police raid that broke up the Occupy movement’s presence in Pioneer Park. Sharon also talks about her hopes for the future of the Occupy movement.