Occupy Rochester began on November 11, but as it enters its third month camped out in Washington Square Park, the conditions and weather have changed. Though the normal Rochester winter held off until mid January, it has now arrived with high winds, snow and a bitter cold. The tents in the park are wrapped in tarps, and the Occupiers now cover their bodies with thick wool jackets and warm their feet with large winter boots. Last week, winds upset many of the tents, and caused the group to spend several days rebuilding and reorganizing supplies.
Their numbers have also changed. The Occupy movement in Rochester is now only 12 strong, although it has been made very clear that others "occupy remotely," and stand in solidarity with the group staying in Washington Square Park. The group has not only tents for sleeping, but also tents for a library, food and supplies. Garbage is kept in garbage cans; cigarette butts are kept in a container you'd see outside a store's entrance and the ground is covered by hay, in an effort to help lessen the damage to the grass frozen below.
As other Occupy movements across the country have disassembled and moved their efforts primarily online, a question has to be asked: when will it end in Rochester? When will the final 12 move home and continue their preotest elsewhere? Spring is still months away, and there will be many more freezing nights to go before occupying Rochester will get any easier.
The group’s supply tent is in disarray as occupier Ethan Alan attempts to reorganize it.
Children’s toys lay unattended by a pile of objects covered in a tarp. Harsh winds have wrecked many of the Occupiers’ tents.
Nate Martin, born and raised in Rochester, paints signs for an upcoming protest as the camp’s inverted American flag waves in the background.
Occupy members gather around a picnic table between the tents, decorating signs for an upcoming rally against SOPA.
Tents in Washington Square Park are covered in tarps and lay on top of wooden pallets to help avoid the cold.
The group polices itself, as shown by signs here in the “food tent.” The group is not allowed to use an open flame to prepare food, so all donated food must be pre-cooked and warmed in their microwave, which is powered by a generator.