The Occupy SLO crew camped out in the courtyard of the county courthouse in downtown San Luis Obispo was in a mellow mood Thursday afternoon in contrast to Los Angeles, New York and other cities, where police have broken down camps and arrested hundreds of protesters.
As a cool wind gently lifted the corners of unoccupied nylon tents and carried the strumming of a distracted guitar, a woman and a dreadlocked guy — dressed in what could only be described as professional counterculture multipatched pajamas — painted slogans in support of the “99 percent” movement.
There was some thought about disrupting San Luis Obispo County’s mass transit system, as occupiers were going to do to the subway system in New York, said Miles Berrett, an occupier who hails from Arizona.
“But the public transportation here is bad enough that to shut it down would have been futile,” he said. “We’ll have a silent march tonight at Farmers Market.”
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An earnest young man in his 20s, Berrett said the 20 to 30 people who have been camping out in the courthouse plaza for the past weeks are more interested in civil disobedience as an exercise of free speech.
The occupiers have been at the courthouse since Oct. 19. Their numbers cannot be verified, changing from day to day.
“We’re not here for free sandwiches and free rent; we’re here to enlighten people about issues like the housing crash and Glass-Steagall,” he explained. That Depression-era banking regulation bill was repealed in 1999.
Berrett acknowledged that early on there had been problems with some people who were not aligned with the 99 percenters, who had been drinking, smoking marijuana and going about their bathroom habits rather freely. Those folks have been rooted out, he said.