Fairbanks Hesitant to Take Strong Line Against ‘Occupy’ Protestors

The Fairbanks Borough is in a tight legal spot in regard to the Occupy Fairbanks protest.  For more than month now, a few occupy protesters have maintained a presence at Veteran’s Memorial Park downtown.  Recently, it’s included two tents.  Mayor Luke Hopkins says the protester’s set up violates a borough parks and recreation rule banning camping at the park.  The protestors maintain that given the cold weather, tents are essential to exercising their right to assemble.   Mayor Hopkins has so far only discussed the issue with protestors, and at last week’s borough assembly meeting, he expressed apprehension about taking a stronger line.

Hopkins was responding to a comment by assembly member Michael Dukes, who pushed for the administration to get tough.

The borough legal department has been looking into what it can do about the Occupy camp.  Borough attorney Rene Broker said the majority of municipal code is not enforced, and singling out the park no camping rule could put borough government on shaky legal ground.

Broker said she would only be willing to move forward if the assembly formally takes up the broader issue of enforcement of borough code. The borough currently does not have police powers. Mayor Hopkins says city police have been checking in on the occupy protest, which so far has been quiet and peaceful.

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