When I dropped by Occupy Roanoke’s daylight encampment in Elmwood Park on Saturday, the group was at a temporary impasse.
Its rules require the presence of at least 15 members for a vote on spending more than $50. There was a motion on the table to purchase an iPhone for communication purposes. But there weren’t 15 members around.
That’s unlikely to be an issue this weekend. Occupy Roanoke is hosting the very first Occupy Virginia “statewide general assembly” in Highland Park. Representatives of Occupy groups from Portsmouth, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Staunton, Harrisonburg, Northern Virginia, Richmond and Radford are expected.
They’ll gather in the Alexander-Gish House, where they’ll focus on strengthening bonds as a statewide organization and coordinate future actions and events. Also joining them will be representatives from Roanoke Valley union locals, gay rights activists, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a veterans group.
It won’t necessarily be a big rally. Bernard Alvarez, a spokesman for Occupy Roanoke, estimated a crowd of fewer than 100. That includes about 20 to 30 people from Occupy groups elsewhere in Virginia, he said.
Weather permitting, most of the visitors will be pitching tents at the Roanoke Mountain campground off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The group chose Highland Park, rather than its traditional Elmwood Park headquarters, because it doesn’t want to get in the way of Local Colors, the annual diversity festival slated for Elmwood Park this weekend, Alvarez said. Gish House will provide cover for the meeting in case of rain.
Following the all-day meeting in the park, they plan to stage an off-the-cuff “march” through Roanoke on Saturday night, beginning at the Mayors Monument in Elmwood Park and proceeding down Jefferson Street, Campbell Avenue and Williamson Road.
They don’t have a parade permit, but “we’ve worked it out with the cops so that if we stagger groups of people, there won’t be a problem,” Alvarez said. The police “have been very generous with us, quite honestly.”
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