Facebook dispute leads to changes, controversy for Occupy Louisville

Like the original Occupy Wall Street protests, the recent Occupy Louisville movement began online, organized through Facebook. While Occupy Louisville had no official leaders, one of the most prominent organizers was Sandy Knauer Morgan, who created the Facebook event “Occupy Kentucky (in Louisville.)” Morgan invited participants to the October 4th protest on the corner of 4th Street and Jefferson Street outside the Aegon building.

“I’ve watched the live stream of Occupy Wall Street since the day it started, and I’ve studied carefully everything they’ve done,” Morgan told RedEye. “I think it’s wonderful what those kids are doing. They’re my heroes! They’re doing what I’ve been waiting for for twelve years.”

Organization and planning, however, quickly turned to controversy.

Although the protest was originally scheduled to take place at Aegon Plaza, Morgan obtained a permit to legally march at the Belvedere, an area more than twice the size of the Plaza. The change led to a split in the group; the event began at the Belvedere with a General Assembly, but soon moved to Aegon Plaza for the remainder of the day.

Morgan’s plan had good intentions: “Legally, you can have a few people standing on a corner, but you can’t have a big crowd. So when I saw that it was getting large, I went to the city and tried to get permits to do it legally so that people would be safe and be able to do it right.” However, the blog Louisville Courant said of the move, “[The Belvedere’s] isolated. No one will see it. Might as well have it on a farm in Okolona.” Indeed, after 3 p.m., the Belvedere remained desolate save for Morgan, some associates, and a few families and couples.

More significant to some protesters than the change in location, though, was that Morgan had reorganized the event through contact with the police.

In a string of Facebook comments that catalyzed the Belvedere-Aegon Plaza split, two dissenters wrote to Morgan, criticizing her associations with police: “we’re done talking calmly to people that systematically destroy the poor and working class. we have problems with the police because the police try to crush dissent in this country,” their message read.

Morgan replied, “You don’t appear to be team players or in the mood for peace and love and talking calmly about how to protect 99% of the people from the 1% who are causing our problems. If you change your minds and want to participate in the true spirit of this movement, you’ll be welcomed. If you are hear [sic] to cause trouble or plan to be there to cause trouble, I hope you’ll find something else to do.”

Morgan then said she would show the Facebook page to the police.

One commenter pointed out the hypocrisy of her statement, given the anti-government nature of the protest: “while resisting that power structure, ill [sic] be pointing out other occupiers to the police! go tyranny go!”

The same commenter wrote again, “copy the page you snitch. i didn’t realize voicing our opinions was illegal.”

Morgan, however, was very disappointed with many protesters’ aversion to police. “The city and the police department have bent over backwards to do everything to make this exactly what it should be. I’m gonna be really upset if people start provoking them… Across the country, everybody’s talking about police brutality and stuff. If people provoke our police department and try to catch video of them, I’m going to be really upset,” she said.

Although the protest drew members of radical organizations, Morgan did not feel that it would be right to associate the movement with organized groups. “If you all have been keeping up with Occupy Wall Street no politics, no religion, no ‘isms,” she said.

She expressed a particular fear of anarchists, given that several members of the Louisville Anarchist Federation Federation hosted a General Assembly early in the afternoon. “I didn’t want to draw anarchists at all. I wanted to emulate what’s happening at Wall Street. Those are peaceful people. They are people that want a totally peaceful movement, and that’s what I had planned,” she said.

Contrary to Morgan’s expectations, however, the anarchists at 4th and Jefferson were rather peaceful and, when interviewed, somewhat averse to attention. The largely young group sat around stacks of pamphlets like “Queering Anarchism,” “Understanding Patriarchy,” and “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” while talking quietly and smoking. Although at one point, a group member roused the group’s enthusiasm by chanting, “If you don’t do it, no one will!” to get the response “Occupy Louisville!,” the chant lasted no more than a minute.

Carolyn is a senior in HSU at duPont Manual High School and a staff writer for ManualRedEye.

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