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Updated: UNM officials have denied (Un)Occupy Albuquerque's appeal for a permit extension. According to one movement representative, the "mood is getting tense."
(Un)Occupy Albuquerque's permit to demonstrate on UNM property expires at 10 pm tonight. Earlier today, movement leaders met with UNM officials to appeal the expiration and request an extension, but their request was denied.
According to one movement leader, police were congregating near the campus in advance of (Un)Occupy's planned 6 pm general assembly, during which Occupyers will decide whether to vacate the campus.
Posted earlier today:
Today, (Un)Occupy Albuquerque, an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement, is meeting with UNM officials to try to stave off eviction from campus.
For nearly a month, (Un)Occupy Albuquerque (the "un" is intended to counter the negative connotations of an occupation) has operated a camp on the University of New Mexico campus.
But the group's permit expires today, and UNM officials seem anxious to expel the movement.
According to Ben Warren, a protester active in the movement, when the group went to UNM administrative offices to drop off letters, they found locked doors. They called, but UNM staff didn't answer their phones, Warren says.
"We did, after calling and calling, get through," Warren explains. After UNM staff declined to show up at proposed meeting times, they finally agreed to meet with (Un)Occupy about a permit extension, Warren says. The meeting is currently underway.
At 6 pm, (Un)Occupy Albuquerque will gather for a general assembly meeting to decide "whether to stay and make a stand or go elsewhere and make a stand," Warren says.
(Visitors are welcome to join in at the group's camp on the corner of Yale and Central Ave. in Albuquerque.)
A story in today's Albuquerque Journal characterizes the Albuquerque movement as a focal point for violence and misbehavior. ("Fights, Drunkenness and a Death Have Marred Protest," the subheadline reads.)
Warren says that while it's true that (Un)Occupy Albuquerque has welcomed homeless people who want to join the movement's ranks, "There are a lot of people who care and are still involved...the movement is not gone."
He also notes that the movement's sudden ability to highlight the problem of homelessness in Albuquerque also points to an uncomfortable failing on the part of local officials.
"Part of the problem with the negative image [we have] at UNM is, we've brought this homeless issue into the limelight," Warren says.
Check back for an update after (Un)Occupy leaders finish meeting with UNM officials.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story said that Ben Warren was "one of the leaders" of (Un)Occupy Albuquerque. Instead, he tells SFR, he is an equal member of a democratic movement.