- Written by Fred Monrean Jr.
Occupy supporters near and far keep the campers going
From mittens to hot tea, Occupy protesters in Fairbanks are sustained by the support of like-minded souls.
“There is support from people that can’t sleep out there, but they do come by," said Monika Kunat, who spent one night at the park downtown, but mainly contributes by organizing events, and going to meetings.
Another woman, Kunat recalled, came by with her dog and hot tea. "And some kind of bread, I think it was banana bread," she added. "When you’re been sleeping all night in negative five degrees without a tent or anything, one of the best things you can have is hot tea in the morning.”
Supporters are essential, even if they aren't themselves camping, enabling others to maintain Occupy Fairbanks' constant presence, bringing awareness about what many believe is a society corrupted by money. These individuals may not be physically present in the park, but find other ways to keep the movement going.
“The single reason that drove me to come out here and spend my first night camped out, was simply one of these guys was here alone,” says Brent Baccala, 41, a newcomer to the movement, who has spent several of his first winter nights in Fairbanks sleeping in a donated tent.
Baccala arrived in Fairbanks with a sleeping bag, but not much else, lacking even winter gloves.
Another protester, Forrest Andresen, took mercy on him, Baccala recalls. “He let me use his nice warm mitts.”
The mittens it turns out were knitted two years ago by Andresen's father, “I loaned them to him because I had a bunch of school projects and wasn't going to be out for the next week or so, and he didn't have anything to protect his hands.”
Andresen said he became involved with the Occupy movement after he saw "other people already willing to stand up for the things they believe.” He eventually got those mittens back, when another, still as of yet unnamed supporter, donated some winter clothing to the group.
Others have stepped in by organizing associated Occupy events. UAF student Monika Kunat put together "Speak Out" days on campus, providing a public forum encouraging people to exercise their first amendment rights.
"She got the ins on how that whole process works, and got us a permit to be on campus for a full day,” recounted an Occupy supporter on how Kunat has been helpful.
Many little things contribute to making life easier for the few individuals sleeping downtown the past two months, including donated firewood, cold weather gear, and tents.
"there is support from people that can't sleep out there," Kunat said in a telephone interview.
Just as important is the sense of comradery inherent in being part of a national movement. “Like this girl from North Carolina that called the other day," recalled Kunat, "she was just saying, ‘I support you guys.’”
|< Prev||Next >|