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April 18, 2014

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Occupy Las Vegas protesters occupying lot near UNLV campus

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Gregan Wingert

Occupy Las Vegas protester Peter Politis unloads a truck filled with food and gallons of bottled water for the newly permitted campsite, Oct. 21, 2011.

Occupy Las Vegas

Group members of Occupy Las Vegas set up wooden benches and chairs during the set up of the new site of the Occupy Las Vegas protest, Oct. 21, 2011. Launch slideshow »

Occupy Las Vegas movement finds spot to set up camp

After negotiations with the county, the Occupy Las Vegas movement has found a fixed home and plans to start camping out today on a lot at the northwest corner of Tropicana Avenue and Paradise Road.

Occupy Las Vegas site

A small group of protesters crouched Friday afternoon in the shadow of a graffiti-stained storage shed and gazed off into the vacant lot of hot concrete — a spot lawfully designated to be their first campsite in the Las Vegas area.

Occupy Las Vegas protesters were granted a permit by the county to inhabit the lot just north of East Tropicana between Paradise Road and Swenson Street, which is located south and west of UNLV's campus.

Since the marching protests on the Strip and on Fremont Street, the group has been looking to set up a more permanent base similar to the park in New York City that serves as the base for Occupy Wall Street, which has sparked an international movement against corporate greed.

“On Saturday this went international,” said Occupy Las Vegas protester Johnathan Abbinett. “Occupy barbeques started popping up.”

The Occupy Las Vegas protesters will be able to inhabit the vacant lot until Nov. 21.

“We’re here for 30 days for free,” said Abbinett, who added that the space wasn’t the group’s first choice.

The process of acquiring a permit for the group to sleep in a public place has been slow going, said Abbinett. Earlier plots of land were deemed unsafe by county officials, he said.

“It’s been a lot of bureaucratic bullshit,” Abbinett said.

Abbinett is apart from the group’s diplomacy team and said it’s a movement lead by everyone not by one person. Occupy Las Vegas has about 350 core volunteers who Abbinett said have continuously contributed to the cause.

Group members also looked into occupying land on Las Vegas Boulevard, but it was all privately owned, said protester Kristal Glass.

According to the official permit for the approved lot, the group must submit a detailed traffic control and parking plan to Clark County by 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26. There must be two portable toilets for every 150 people and the space must have adequate trash receptacles.

Other terms that the protesters agreed to include not selling food or merchandise and not consuming alcohol in the area. Event organizers have also agreed to provide commercial general liability insurance and a comprehensive indemnity bond.

The permit can be revoked by the discretion of the county and Metro Police.

Abbinett anticipates having a peaceful protest.

“We don’t need violence or arrests,” he said.

The crowd assembling in the afternoon worked together to pitch tents, haul in trashcans and set up benches.

Students, veterans, moms, dads, the working class and the unemployed comprised the mixed group fighting collectively for different reasons.

“My heart just breaks for the people caught” in foreclosures, said Gail Collins-Ranadive, 67.

Nickales Desouza, 27, is employed but protesting to share his opinion about the unemployment rate

“I’m just glad to be a part of history,” Desouza said. “I’m pleased 100 percent that we have a location.”

As for what’s in store after the 30 days are up, Glass said, “We either stay here or we move.”

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  1. That parking lot is used each year for patron parking for the Professional Bull Riders event, which starts Wednesday, and for the National Finals Rodeo, which starts on Dec.1. Two of the largest events of the year for the valley and the state, and the county drops a protest right in the middle of its parking. Great thinking, Clark County Commissioners.

  2. I fully support Occupy Las Vegas. We have politicians that simply do not listen to what the people here want, nor have they shown any desire to do what they were elected into office to do. Time to get their attention in any possibly way we can. It's a good cause and one that needs to gain steam.

    I kind of feel sorry they are out there in the elements though. Serious sacrifice. But you gotta do what you gotta do to get this thing started in order to fix this thing called America. Baby steps.

    Next time I go shopping at the Commissary at Nellis AFB, I'm going to buy a couple of cases of bottled water and deliver it to the site.

  3. Kudos to the Clark County Commissioners for respecting the rights of the citizens to protest. Instead of being confrontational they decided to do something different and work out a compromise. It really shows great leadership. After all this is Nevada...and we do things our own way here.

    As far as the parking goes yes 2 acres of parking got taken up. But we're in the middle of Las Vegas with lots of places to park, great public transportation, and 15,000 cabs on the street so getting around is not that bad. And a good walk is something a lot of us could use more of.

    And one last thing, Metro was on site quite a bit last night. The officers I met had no attitude and were very professional. I hope that situation continues.

  4. While they are all sitting in that parking lot why don't their "leaders" register them to vote. Have a voice in the problems or solutions of this country.

    Fact is over 50% of American's don't vote yet it seems 100% or 99% in this case want to complain.

    Be part of fixing the problems instead of sitting on the side lines waiting for things to go your way.

  5. @West Vegas: We're not anti-business. Many of us own small businesses, although many lost those businesses in the economic "downturn." Many of us advocate doing business with locally-owned businesses rather than big-box stores, though. Is that a problem?

    @vegaslee: Many of us are registered to vote (I have been since 1977, as a matter of fact), and we're having a registration drive for those who aren't or who want to change their affiliation to no party affiliation. We'll be at the polls in force.

    And, vegaslee, we don't have "leaders" in the traditional sense of people who tell others what to do. What we're doing is direct democracy in which every member has a vote and decisions are made unanimously. It's difficult and time-consuming, but it works.

    @William Hilton: We sweep the lot every day and it's already cleaner than when we arrived. The broken glass from the partiers who cut through the lot on their way to local drinking establishments has largely disappeared thanks to our efforts. The next event patrons who use the lot will be in much less danger of flat tires because we were there.

    @acejoker (Jim Reid): Our brains are just fine, thanks. At least, they're unclouded enough to remember that attacking people rather than what they say is what logicians call the ad hominem fallacy, and it's just plain bad reasoning.