Occupy SLO Pulls Up Stakes

Occupy SLO is no more. What you see above is all that’s left, a solitary steam cleaner pressure-washing the sidewalk, presumably clearing the site of slogans chalked onto the concrete, but also washing away the flowering of an idea.

I’ll be the first to admit that the Occupy SLO encampment degenerated into little more than a campsite for the homeless over the past couple of months. We got an “all-staff” email here at the County last week urging employees to steer clear of the location. Safety officials warned that “the character of the encampment has changed considerably” and cautioned employees to beware of “assertive behavior by the campers” and “tailgaters attempting to access the building.”

While the initial message of “the 99%” remains a valid one and potent political argument, it appears the duty of mounting large-scale political movements is best left to areas with a stronger population base, such as Oakland, CA; Wall Street, NYC, Philadelphia, PA; Washington, DC. Occupy movements are all still going strong in many big cities.

The little gathering in the Happiest City in America was here for 135-some-odd days, but it had clearly lost its mojo many weeks ago. The County had already whittled the presence down to one simple “information tent,” routinely staffed by just a couple of people, but on a trek past the site last week one could easily hear the boozy, curse-laden chatter of lost souls, rather than any passionate political discourse. When the ne’er-do-wells outnumber the activists, it’s time to fold up the tent.

So on Monday, the whole damn thing was gone. And today the County brought out the steam-cleaner to blast away any last remnants of a nascent, ultimately transient, political awakening.

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