Occupy Fredericton has downsized its tent in Phoenix Square to prepare for the city’s traditional Christmas tree lighting ceremony this week.
“There is certainly no intention on the part of Occupy Fredericton to prevent members of the public from using and enjoying the square,” said Occupy member Dana Hartt.
There was some question last week whether Occupy Fredericton would have to leave its location in Pheonix Square, after Mayor Brad Woodside asked the group to relocate in order to make way for the Christmas Tree.
“Thankfully, a compromise was able to be reached. There really is no reason why Occupy and the Christmas Tree can’t co-exist,” said Ella Henry, who was involved in negotiations with Mayor Woodside.
The Occupy movement has refocused public debate on income inequality and the growing wealth gap between the 99% and 1%. A Nexis search of newspaper articles last week showed a five-fold increase in coverage of income inequality in the American media since the beginning of the occupations.
“The corporate media is trying to get public debate back on message, but the Occupy movement has changed the conversation,” said St. Thomas sociology professor Matthew Hayes.
In Canada, the Globe and Mail has led the charge against the Occupy movement. Last week, it published an editorial comparing the Occupy movement’s message to that of neo-Nazis and pedophiles. The Globe and Mail is related to the Thomson Reuters media empire, and is 85% controlled by the Woodbridge Company, the primary investment vehicle of the Thomson family, Canada’s wealthiest family. The family patriarch, Kenneth Thompson died in 2006, with a net wealth estimated by Forbes at US $17.9 billion.
Occupy Fredericton will also be temporarily lowering its banner. “We want to take the focus off us during the Mayor’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony,” said Hartt.
The occupation outside city hall continues to be the visible presence behind a broader movement being organized in Fredericton. This includes teach-ins and general assemblies devoted to discussing public problems that are either not covered in the corporate media, or distorted by corporate interests.
“There is still a lot of work to do if we are going to craft an alternative agenda,” said Occupy member Arthur Taylor.