Occupy Madison members returned to an encampment on the 800 block of East Washington Avenue Saturday night because they have not found another option for shelter from the impending winter weather.
As of 7 p.m. Saturday, seven homeless people and six others returned to the Occupy Madison site, sleeping outside in tents, according to Tenant Resource Center Executive Director Brenda Konkel in an email.
The local, grassroots division of the national Occupy protest, which highlights the economic gap between the top 1 percent of income earners compared to the other 99 percent, has evolved in Madison into a community for the city’s homeless.
Occupy members are returning to the campsite because local shelter services for the homeless are reaching over-capacity, according to Konkel.
Konkel said the city is allowing Occupy members to remain at the site until further discussion with MPD Capt. Carl Gloede Monday on how long the encampment will be able to stay.
Kegan May, an Occupy member who is using the site for shelter, said while Occupy Madison has changed, there is still a political aspect to the movement.
“As a whole, Occupy Madison is still a political organization, sort of,” May said. “However, this is an approach to a very specific topic, which is housing.”
May also said early interactions between Occupiers and Madison police have been positive.
One Madison police officer stopped by the site twice Monday morning. The first time the officer talked to members about using the site and the second time, he apologized to members because he said he felt his “first approach was inappropriate,” according to May.
Gloede also visited the site and said if the city decides members cannot stay on East Washington Avenue, the police department will give Occupy members an appropriate amount of time to decide what to do, according to May.
May said Gloede plans to talk with encampment members between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. Monday to update them on how the city will handle the situation.
Although Occupy members asked the city for an extension to their permit, the city rejected the request April 17 and required the site to disband by April 30.