UPDATED 11:30am, 11/7/11 — Dana Garrett, with a video response to the Governor’s actions concerning Occupy Delaware over the weekend.
Original post, November 4th, 2011:
Governor Markell, why do you think I am dangerous? Why do you think that everyday Delawareans of different ages, sexes, racial and ethnic and religious backgrounds are dangerous? Why do you think that we pose a threat to the safety and well being of children?
Please do not deny that you believe this because clearly you must. I read the response from the State of Delaware’s Division of Parks and Recreation to Occupy Delaware’s application to use the H. Fletcher Brown park in Wilmington, Delaware, as its site for an occupation. While granting us use of the park on weekends only between the hours 8:00 AM until sunset, your response clearly states that the reason you denied our request to use the park during weekdays is because the Little Folks Too Day Care Center uses the park’s facilities during the day.
What are you afraid of Governor Markell? That the peaceful average Delawareans of Occupy Delaware will somehow imperil the children? Why would we wish to harm children? Why do you think such a thing? Or are you saying that the park is designated as a children’s only park on weekdays? That adults are forbidden to be present in the park when the children are there? That no other groups have been permitted on weekdays to use the park because of the Little Folks Too Day Care Center? This is what your rejection of our application suggests.
Well, Governor Markell, let us see if the facts support what your rejection of our application implies. Consider this open letter to be a Freedom of Information request. (I will follow up with a formal request later.) I want to know how many adults during the last two years were arrested on weekdays for merely being present in the park while the children of Little Folks Too Day Care Center were there? Also, during the last two years, how many groups received the state’s official permission to use the park during weekdays? What groups were they, if any? What explicit provisions did the state make to safeguard the day care’s children from these potentially dangerous groups of adults? And during this timeframe, how many groups applied to use the park on weekdays and were explicitly denied because the children at the day care center use the park?
Here is my hunch, Governor Markell. I believe the facts will show that the state of Delaware is being inconsistent in this matter. I believe that adults are probably frequently present when the children use the park and largely without incident. I believe that other groups have probably used the park during weekdays with the full blessing of the state.
I especially believe that the state of Delaware has contrived a “reason” to reject Occupy Delaware’s application because it does not want the unique, attention-getting kind of speech that an occupation brings, especially when an occupation is located near the center of corporate interests in Delaware. Your rejection is governmental attempt to prescribe what kind of speech we can engage in and to largely conceal its visibility to wealthy elite interests and the public at large. Likewise, your “offer” to locate Occupy Delaware at some other state park, no doubt nowhere near Wilmington’s city’s center, appears to be a transparent attempt to marginalize the movement.
Governor Markell, you are not protecting children. You are protecting wealthy elite power from the forces of needed and inevitable change.
Allow Occupy Delaware to do what it must. Occupy where it matters.
Writer and publisher of the former blog Delaware Watch, Dana Garrett is an adjunct professor teaching philosophy and English courses.