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November 30, 2015

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Occupy Las Vegas protesters occupying lot near UNLV campus


Gregan Wingert

Occupy Las Vegas protester Peter Politis unloads a truck filled with food and gallons of bottled water for the newly permitted campsite, Oct. 21, 2011.

Occupy Las Vegas

Group members of Occupy Las Vegas set up wooden benches and chairs during the set up of the new site of the Occupy Las Vegas protest, Oct. 21, 2011. Launch slideshow »

Occupy Las Vegas movement finds spot to set up camp

After negotiations with the county, the Occupy Las Vegas movement has found a fixed home and plans to start camping out today on a lot at the northwest corner of Tropicana Avenue and Paradise Road.

Occupy Las Vegas site

A small group of protesters crouched Friday afternoon in the shadow of a graffiti-stained storage shed and gazed off into the vacant lot of hot concrete — a spot lawfully designated to be their first campsite in the Las Vegas area.

Occupy Las Vegas protesters were granted a permit by the county to inhabit the lot just north of East Tropicana between Paradise Road and Swenson Street, which is located south and west of UNLV's campus.

Since the marching protests on the Strip and on Fremont Street, the group has been looking to set up a more permanent base similar to the park in New York City that serves as the base for Occupy Wall Street, which has sparked an international movement against corporate greed.

“On Saturday this went international,” said Occupy Las Vegas protester Johnathan Abbinett. “Occupy barbeques started popping up.”

The Occupy Las Vegas protesters will be able to inhabit the vacant lot until Nov. 21.

“We’re here for 30 days for free,” said Abbinett, who added that the space wasn’t the group’s first choice.

The process of acquiring a permit for the group to sleep in a public place has been slow going, said Abbinett. Earlier plots of land were deemed unsafe by county officials, he said.

“It’s been a lot of bureaucratic bullshit,” Abbinett said.

Abbinett is apart from the group’s diplomacy team and said it’s a movement lead by everyone not by one person. Occupy Las Vegas has about 350 core volunteers who Abbinett said have continuously contributed to the cause.

Group members also looked into occupying land on Las Vegas Boulevard, but it was all privately owned, said protester Kristal Glass.

According to the official permit for the approved lot, the group must submit a detailed traffic control and parking plan to Clark County by 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26. There must be two portable toilets for every 150 people and the space must have adequate trash receptacles.

Other terms that the protesters agreed to include not selling food or merchandise and not consuming alcohol in the area. Event organizers have also agreed to provide commercial general liability insurance and a comprehensive indemnity bond.

The permit can be revoked by the discretion of the county and Metro Police.

Abbinett anticipates having a peaceful protest.

“We don’t need violence or arrests,” he said.

The crowd assembling in the afternoon worked together to pitch tents, haul in trashcans and set up benches.

Students, veterans, moms, dads, the working class and the unemployed comprised the mixed group fighting collectively for different reasons.

“My heart just breaks for the people caught” in foreclosures, said Gail Collins-Ranadive, 67.

Nickales Desouza, 27, is employed but protesting to share his opinion about the unemployment rate

“I’m just glad to be a part of history,” Desouza said. “I’m pleased 100 percent that we have a location.”

As for what’s in store after the 30 days are up, Glass said, “We either stay here or we move.”

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