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Forum Post: City of Houston Texas forecloses on Occupy Houston's Nativity Display

Posted 12 years ago on Dec. 22, 2011, 2:32 p.m. EST by seshata (40) from Houston, TX
This content is user submitted and not an official statement


The City of Houston Texas forecloses on Occupy Houston's Nativity Display located in the Free Speech Zone of Tranquillity Park and adjacent to the Mayor's corporate sponsored Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting presented by Reliant Energy. "The 10' x 10 ' area inside of the red square only is considered the First Amendment Expression Area".

Vas was arrested 12/21/11 for camping within the Free Speech Zone. He was not ticketed for violating the City Ordinances regarding "placing or erecting structures of any kind in the park" even though the Nativity Display used a tent to protect it inclement weather.


From the Parks and Recreation Department—

"First Amendment Expression Areas are open to users for exercise of their First Amendment rights during park hours. Locations of First Amendment Expression Areas are listed below in alphabetic order. Although it is not a requirement of the area's use, it is recommended that all users register to avoid conflicts. Users must register with the HPARD Permits Office (832) 395-7012 in order to reserve the area in advance."



Also http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5fRawyh1Ik Occupy vs. Nativity Scene (feat. Baby Jesus)



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[-] 1 points by seshata (40) from Houston, TX 12 years ago

Happy Holidays from Occupy Houston

[-] 1 points by BlueRose (1437) 12 years ago

This could be too restrictive in scope. It effectively shuts down free speech when you are forced to stand in a pen. Where was the pen in relation to the passersby?

[-] 1 points by BlueRose (1437) 12 years ago

Oh I just saw the map. FAR too restrictive, this person's gonna walk IF other time place and manner restrictions were reasonable.

[-] 2 points by seshata (40) from Houston, TX 12 years ago

Vas is pleading and asking that others now sit with him under the Foreclosed manger with the little lord Jesus to encourage many more arrests under these unconstitutional ordinances in MOST "American" cities are arresting and detaining citizens for peacefully assembling and utilizing their freedom of speech.

People are allowed to be artistic with the making of protest signs but Build a Nativity Scene and Be Arrested in a Free Speech Zone.

No wonder the powers that be think that they can pass new defense acts to stifle our freedoms since THEY ALREADY HAVE effectively shut the people up.

[-] 1 points by BlueRose (1437) 12 years ago

Makes me sad and angry. People THINK they have freedom of speech in this country. I wish more people would actually try to speak out in public.

[-] 2 points by seshata (40) from Houston, TX 12 years ago

BlueRose, what is the world coming to? Earlier this month a child warned others that she might die and then her mother shot her at the Food Stamp Office. the family was staying in a tent on a beach on the South Texas coast. In Laredo, they lived at a mobile home park in a small trailer with a cracked wall. Neighbors and park workers would help them with groceries and cash. Ms. Grimmer sold her truck, forcing the family to walk long distances around town.


[-] 1 points by BlueRose (1437) 12 years ago

Considering one in four children are on food stamps, and so many parents are denied food stamps, kids are going hungry, the doctors even say since 2000 there are more cases of malnutrition and "failure to thrive".

[-] 2 points by seshata (40) from Houston, TX 12 years ago

"Divorced and living a vagabond existence in Texas in recent months, Ms. Grimmer, 38, told the police she was frustrated that she had been denied benefits in other states. She said that her former husband was affiliated with the Russian mob and the Ku Klux Klan, a situation she said led to government harassment that prevented her from receiving public assistance."

[-] 0 points by Jflynn64 (337) 12 years ago

You have plenty of places to speak so I don't agree with you. In the city I live in there isa protest a week that goes through the main street of the City that closes down the thoroughfare for a time. These protestors have police escorts, so I don't see anybody taking away your right to speak.

I don't agree with people camping in the middle of town violating every law of human decency. You cannot defecate on the streets and say it is ok. You cannot smoke and shoot up in public and say it is ok. You cannot stop other from generating their livelihood - closing ports- and say it is ok. Speak and protest all you want but you must adhere to the rules like any other group does.

[-] 1 points by seshata (40) from Houston, TX 12 years ago

Houston v. Hill

Decided on June 15, 1987; 482 US 451

I. ISSUES: A. Issues Discussed: Free Speech

B. Legal Question Presented:

Is a municipal ordinance that makes it unlawful to interrupt a police officer in the performance of his or her duties unconstitutionally overbroad under the First Amendment?



"The elements of First Amendment overbreadth analysis are familiar. Only a statute that is substantially overbroad may be invalidated on its face....

[-] 0 points by Jflynn64 (337) 12 years ago

So you are saying that the Supreme Court defended the right to free speech.

[-] 1 points by seshata (40) from Houston, TX 12 years ago

Jflynn64, Many U.S. cities are attempting to quell the smoldering effects of Occupy during the American Winter. Much later, the Supreme Court will eventually hear the grievances of the protesters whom are in many of the cities where the Occupy Movement exists and have been set up for failure on behalf of corporate interests.

Restrooms are a necessity and there isn't any reason why restrooms are not available 24 hours a day in cities across this country. People were defecating in public long before Occupy Wall Street. People were 'smoking and shooting' long before as well. When park officials visit the Occupy Houston site, they admit their histories of displaced people with many incidences of mental illness.

Escalating non-violent protest actions including shutting down ports with union support or metropolitan areas with public approval rather than acquiescing and submitting or complying silently without a protest today is acceptable civil disobedience behavior.

The tent and restroom issues will be handled civilly when the public demand that their city officials cease cowering to their corrupt corporate financial backers.

Todd Starnes of FOX News & Commentary stated posthumously that Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” defecates on police cars, throws firebombs, and brutalizes women.


However, if as Todd slanderously says that "the Occupy Movement has transformed from a peaceful protest into a raging horde of domestic terrorist revolutionaries and thousands of people from New York to California have been arrested and the Occupiers have laid siege to public parks turning them into vast wastelands of human filth and disease", then it is only because that is the direction that Wall Street and its crony city officials guided it since there has not been any complaints of 'defecation' come from the more entrenched 'middle east'?

Jflynn64, welcome to Winter In America, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGlRsjHTkbs

[-] 0 points by Jflynn64 (337) 12 years ago

I disagree with you, I would never see out and out feces on the street until the OWS movement came to our city.

If you have every right to make your case heard and known but in my opinion you do not have a right to block city streets and block ports so that commerce does not get through. When you do that you are forcing your ideals and protest on to me and others and that is not correct.

[-] 1 points by seshata (40) from Houston, TX 12 years ago

Jflynn64, didn't the Boston Tea Party block a 'commercial port'? When people refused to ride a bus instead of sitting in the back of them, didn't the additional pedestrians cause 'traffic problems'?

[-] 0 points by Jflynn64 (337) 12 years ago

Yes in both cases and to your point, I think in the latter case it was against the law.

That still doesn't make it correct especially when protestors have the right to vote, In my opinion this is the big difference. There is a mechanism in place to allow interest groups to have their voice heard When they protest and start impacting the rights of others that's when it crosses the line.

One interesting example of voting rights and their use is the last 40 years in Northern Ireland. The Catholics had the right to vote but they couldn't convince enough people to win their viewpoint, so they took to violence. They never won while they pushed their terrorism but economic growth in the South brought everybody to the table.

This is just my opinion, but if you want to win with your agenda you need to win over the soccer moms and the old silent majority. The people who respect the laws, go to work everyday, and in the end believe in fairness of opportunity.

[-] 1 points by seshata (40) from Houston, TX 12 years ago

Jflynn64, I am a registered voter as are other Occupy Movement members. All of the issues that Occupy Wall Street have magnified are going to be seen with even more clarity as the next election year approaches so hold on to your hats. 2012 will be a very interesting election year.

My friend Richard went to work everyday and even skipped lunch because he was required to walk 400 yards back and forth in order to clock in and out. Richard respected the company's policies/laws even when that respect was not reciprocated. The company changed a policy requiring that previous incidents usually classified as occupational hazards become 'accidents/incidents' and beginning in January of this year, Richard was unnecessarily written up several times. Late in October, Richard did not show up at work and this was unusual for him. The 63 year old, slow-striding and 6'9' gentle giant died that Friday morning or cardiac arrest. Much respect to Richard Gates and the Carnegie policies of attrition.

[-] 0 points by Jflynn64 (337) 12 years ago

I have no hate for OWS people and I am not sure why you would think so.

I am very sorry to hear about your friend Robert. I wish I could make life fair but I am not God.

[-] 1 points by seshata (40) from Houston, TX 12 years ago

Jflynn64, my apologies for any misunderstanding but wher do people go when they have met the end of the road like Mohammed Boazzi? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHw_auqod6Y

or Ms. Grimmer? http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/10/us/laredo-tex-food-stamp-standoff-ends-in-killings-and-suicide.html?pagewanted=all

How long will law abiding citizens sit idly by while less fortunate ones suffer? Shouldn't those who need help the most receive help first?

It is becoming obvious to all that these U.S. cities are not accommodating the Occupy Movement and the Movement's need to last through the American Winter because the cronies of corporate corruption of Democracy do not wish that people here awake to an American Spring complete with thousands ready to hit the streets for Justice For All.

[-] 0 points by Jflynn64 (337) 12 years ago

As a private citizen and as a Catholic I am a firm believer in helping those in need but I do not agree with the state stepping in and taking from one group to advantage another as this power causes corruption. The best form of government is a benevolent dictator, a la Mussolini or Hitler in the 30's, but they seldom work as the power corrupts.

I don't think corporate America is stopping OWS from protesting. I work for a bank and we have received no direction to that effect. They are worried about making payroll in this difficult environment and worried about laying people off. The bigger question is what do you as an employer do if you have employees who are not producing and are a drag on the whole?

[-] 1 points by BlueRose (1437) 12 years ago

You just don't know what is going on out there. Yeah, some protestors participate in civil disobedience, you need to separate that issue from free speech, ok? I am talking specifically about FREE SPEECH.

If you want to protest downtown, in front of a building, guess what, you can't because many sidewalks are PRIVATE PROPERTY and the citizens THINK the sidewalks are for public use.(Someone like Ron Paul could say, "only white people, or only GOP use the sidewalk" if it were not for discrimination laws.) I have been speaking out in public for almost 20 years. If you tried it, you would first get detained, questioned, basically harassed by cops. Or a security guard may just tell you to leave. Then you have say you are NOT leaving. Then he asks for one million dollar insurance policy, no leaflets, no signs, stand next to the dumpsters away from the people, sign a document that effectively gives away right you already have, come back two weeks later but not on weekends or after 6 pm, and oh, someone else was saying the same thing, we kicked them out with an injunction, applies to you too, what you are saying is something our patrons don't want to hear, etc. Then they ask you to leave, you say no, a manager comes out, says they will call police, you say fine, police come, say they will arrest you, you say you are not leaving, call your watch commander, you get placed in the back of a police car, then the watch commander comes over says, oh, uh, sorry, you are free to go. That's IF you are not sent to jail, in which then you SUE . THEN you have about a minute to speak before you need to go home... Try to go out and say something unpopular, instead of religious or Tea Party crap, it is a whole different world...

[-] -1 points by Jflynn64 (337) 12 years ago

OWS folks have consistently protested in our city shutting down major streets which causes immense inconveniences for those of us who are trying to work. In the past, various union groups and the pro palestinian groups have done the same thing.

There have to be rules since different groups on different days could effectively shut down a city. I see many opportunities for you to protest as well as others. Frankly, I think there are so many people protesting something that the public just walks by and doesn't listen. That's a whole other issue.

[-] 2 points by seshata (40) from Houston, TX 12 years ago

Jflynn64, if a city or a country is participating in the corporate corruption of Democracy, then should't that city or country be "shut down" until order is restored?

[-] 1 points by BlueRose (1437) 12 years ago

Exactly, thank you.

[-] -1 points by Jflynn64 (337) 12 years ago

No, because you have the election process to effect change.

[-] 1 points by BlueRose (1437) 12 years ago

The election process is for the 1%, it is corrupted by money influence, gerrymandering, and outright lies.

[-] 1 points by seshata (40) from Houston, TX 12 years ago


[-] 0 points by Jflynn64 (337) 12 years ago

Probably, but it is the method for effecting change. If enough people believe in your ideas they will vote for you. The problem lies in getting enough people to vote for your ideas.

[-] 1 points by seshata (40) from Houston, TX 12 years ago

Jflynn64, is this a sign of more people 'believing':


[-] 0 points by Jflynn64 (337) 12 years ago

I don't understand.

[-] 1 points by seshata (40) from Houston, TX 12 years ago

Members of the African-American faith community have joined forces with Occupy Wall Street to launch a new campaign for economic justice inspired by the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. Faithful to its philosophical origin, the "Occupy the Dream" coalition has called for a National Day of Action on Martin Luther King Day – Monday, January 16, 2012 – to focus attention on the gross injustice visited upon the 99% by the financial elite.

Occupy the Dream Campaign - Press Statement

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for social and economic justice with a deep moral commitment to non-violent civil disobedience. His legacy inspires many of us on the front lines of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Nearly fifty years since hundreds of thousands of people marched with Dr. King and filled the nation's capital, the dream that inspired our nation remains unfulfilled. As shocking as it is to believe, there is a more severe inequality of wealth in the United States today than there was back then. More Americans are living in poverty today than when Dr. King organized the Poor People's Campaign.

While the rich have grown richer, tens of millions of Americans have been exploited and left behind. In a time of great wealth and technological advancement, American families are desperately struggling to get by and to make ends meet.

Our political, economic, and legal systems have become wholly corrupted through a system of political bribery. Through campaign finance, lobbying, and the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street, our wealth has been consolidated into the hands of the few at the expense and suffering of the many. Many of our brothers and sisters lead lives dominated by fear. Fear of losing a home. Fear of losing a job. Fear of losing medical coverage. Fear of losing the ability to provide food for our families. And for far too many, these fears have already become a reality.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is about people coming together to say “enough is enough.” Our families have endured economic oppression for too long. The Occupy Wall Street movement draws its strength from people of all different walks of life, with opinions across the political spectrum, coming together to find common ground and unite against the global financial interests that have bought control of our government.

Dr. King’s vision of economic justice is an edifying example of what we intend to achieve. The Occupy movement has become a powerful force by occupying communities throughout the country. The time has now come for us to embody the spirit of Dr. King and for us to “Occupy the Dream.”

We are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the African-American Faith community in this campaign for economic fairness and justice. We are all in this fight together. We all want a healthy and secure future for our families. In the absence of a government that will defend and represent us, we are now taking it upon ourselves to stand up and defend our own families.

It is a great honor today to join with the spirit of Dr. King, to join with heroes of the civil rights movement, luminaries of the faith community, pioneers in music and all of you in attendance.

It is a great honor today to announce the birth of the “Occupy the Dream” movement.

In solidarity,

David DeGraw on behalf of dozens of OWS List of OWS people to follow at www.occupydream.org

Read by Sgt. Shamar Thomas and David DeGraw on behalf of over 30 OWS organizers nationwide.

[-] 0 points by Jflynn64 (337) 12 years ago

I'm not sure who the African AMerican Faith Community is but yes, that is the way to get your message out.

[-] 1 points by BlueRose (1437) 12 years ago

THIS is the message I hope you learn. Elections are NOT working.

[-] -1 points by Jflynn64 (337) 12 years ago

Oh I think elections do work. Just look at what has happened since 2006, with both the Congress and the Presidency rotating.

How else would you effect change?

[-] 1 points by BlueRose (1437) 12 years ago

Ok, in California, Gerrymandering is a big issue. In a recent election, not one district changed party. NOT ONE. The districts are RIGGED by BOTH Dems and Reps, no third voice allowed. Then the 1% BUYS BOTH PARTIES.

[-] -1 points by Jflynn64 (337) 12 years ago

Yes, gerrymandering is a huge issue and I agree that they rig it to pander to their interest groups but that doesn't mean the message can't get through since people still vote. Once in office its very difficult to move the needle as the system is set up for incremental change, but that is not all bad.

There is not a better system, save for a benevolent dictator.

[-] 1 points by seshata (40) from Houston, TX 12 years ago

In response to the Occupy Wall Street protests and the worldwide occupy movement calling for U.S. campaign finance reform eliminating corporate influence in politics, among other reforms, Representative Ted Deutch introduced the "Outlawing Corporate Cash Undermining the Public Interest in our Elections and Democracy" (OCCUPIED) constitutional amendment on November 18, 2011.

[-] 1 points by BlueRose (1437) 12 years ago

How many voices have you NOT heard, how many people have been told to go away when they had a right to speak? And again, I am not discussing civil disobedience at the momnet.

[-] 1 points by seshata (40) from Houston, TX 12 years ago

Ms. Grimmer was obviously in fear of losing her life and the life of her children. Either she was delusional or seriously affraid of not being able to provide for her family.

[-] 1 points by BlueRose (1437) 12 years ago

We don't take care of the mentally ill either. This country is overstressed, overworked, overtired, malnourished, and medically uncared for.

[-] 2 points by seshata (40) from Houston, TX 12 years ago


[-] 1 points by BlueRose (1437) 12 years ago

Many Europeans know this about America. It is Americans who are brainwashed into accepting these horrible conditions.

[-] 3 points by seshata (40) from Houston, TX 12 years ago

Is it 'brainwashing' or dividing and conquering?


[-] 1 points by seshata (40) from Houston, TX 12 years ago

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5fRawyh1Ik Occupy vs. Nativity Scene (feat. Baby Jesus)

[-] -1 points by Jflynn64 (337) 12 years ago

Probably a lot. Anybody can speak and protest but you can't block people's right of way.

[-] 1 points by lovebug (20) 12 years ago

Interesting ? "First Amendment Expression Areas? Are there freedom of speech expression areas? freedom of the press expression areas? This is not what our forefathers fought and died for- they rebelled so we could live in a country that was free, where its government treated its citizens with respect. - Thomas Jefferson is rolling over in his grave. we must remove this corruption from the planet.

[-] 1 points by seshata (40) from Houston, TX 12 years ago
[-] 0 points by seshata (40) from Houston, TX 12 years ago

lovebug, after being detained, Vas was cited with a 'camping' violation for putting a manger scene in the Free Speech Area. The City of Houston just wanted the tent in the display taken down and removed from the park.

[-] 2 points by lovebug (20) 12 years ago

The end result, will make it worse for them, you will just evolve you actions - in a way where they can't counter.

Scouting for Direct Action Campaigning

pdf 19 pages


mp3 36 minutes


Like much of the action development process, scouting is a combination of the artistic and mechanical. It can involve something as simple as looking over the place you want to sit down in the road or picket. Or it can be complex, involving great amounts of background research, repeated visits, or unpalatable risks. Mechanically, an activist scouts the physical qualities of the potential action site. Hazards, access, and assembly points are typical scouting objectives. They have enough of a sense of timing and proportion to judge whether the project is feasible-and what it would take. With practice, good scouts see (or research) the subtler physical qualities. Weather and lighting, useful symbols of "the other side", traffic and security patterns would fall into this category. Artistically, experienced scouts (and action coordinators) can look at the site and almost see the action unfolding. They anticipate the reactions of other participants in the action. These include bystanders, workers, the curious, police, and media people. They have a sense of the timing and flow of the action. The artistic side of the scout can see the symbolic quality of the action and the action site as a political performance space-with an edge. For most of us its a lot easier to become a great mechanic than a great artist. So most of what Ruckus focuses on in this section is the practice of scouting. There is a method to it which we can learn from each other. Developing scouting abilities depends on a lively discussion of technique and results. One note: for the purposes of this section we'll focus on the skills to do a fairly complex scout. Activists can scale down to an appropriate level.

[-] 1 points by seshata (40) from Houston, TX 12 years ago

lovebug, Thanks again.

[-] 1 points by lovebug (20) 12 years ago

The city of Houston just wanted to, control the demonstrators behavior - with threats of force if they don't conform. We are not afraid anymore- they can't threaten us- never do what cops want-