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Occupy Monterey Activists Join One Man's 24/7 City Hall Vigil

By Rebecca.Robinson  November 19, 2011 Monterey County Weekly (http://www.montereycountyweekly.com/weblogs/news-blog/2011/nov/19/occupy-monterey-activists-join-one-mans-247-city-h/)

By Friday afternoon, Timothy Barrett was nearly 72 hours into his round-the-clock vigil in front of Monterey's City Hall, and his exhaustion was starting to show.

"I'm really looking forward to some alone time," Barrett said—a surprising statement given that his action, which he announced at Tuesday night's City Council meeting, started as a one-man show of solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement.

    As it turns out, the Monterey resident and multimedia producer hadn't had a single moment to himself since he set up his makeshift office with little more than a table, chairs, small library (including a tome on Paul Revere's midnight ride) and a handwritten sign reading, "Open for the Peoples' business."

    "From the moment I set foot on this patio, I have been a man in the company of others," Barrett said Friday. "Some have joined me in the evenings, sleeping here; others have been on the corner with signs to help promote the message of equality and justice. I’ve had as many as 25 people who I’ve never met before come up here to be with me and exchange ideas."

    During his City Council testimony Tuesday, Barrett decried the systematic, sometimes violent dispersal by police of peaceful protesters at Occupy events across the country. He also issued a call to action.

    "I made a call for 100 people to come stand by my side who believe, like I do, that people have a right to assemble peaceably," Barrett said.

    His words were quickly seized upon by Occupy Monterey organizers, whoposted Barrett's statement, as well as his coffee preferences, to theirwebsite and Facebook page. Occupiers delivered on the java, bringing Barrett a dozen cups of coffee each day of his vigil. They also brought food, tarps, music and signs to keep him going.

    But would 100 Occupiers materialize on a rainy Friday evening to stand with Barrett and 'rescue' him from his vigil?

    "I hope so," he said. "But I have no idea who'll show up."

    They started congregating at Window on the Bay Park around 5pm Friday. At first, their ranks were small—30 or so folks clad in plastic ponchos and waving soggy signs to the rush hour traffic crawling down Del Monte Avenue. But as the skies cleared and carpools arrived, the crowd swelled to nearly 80 people, from stroller-bound infants to seniors, students, teachers, families and even a puppy.

    They came for Barrett and for each other.

    "I want to do my part to make sure the American dream is still possible," said Alan Haffa, a professor of English at Monterey Peninsula College.

    "I want to help everyone come to a realization of what the 99 percent really looks like," added Britney Tanner, a recent Marina High School graduate who's been unsuccessfully looking for work and is living at the Occupy Monterey encampment at Veteran's Park. "I've been trying to find a job since I graduated, but it's really hard right now, especially because I got kicked out of the house as soon as I turned 18.

    "I don't have a lot of options," Tanner added, cradling a puppy in a blanket sling under her poncho.

    The Occupiers marched boisterously down Del Monte, chanting and waving to passing cars, many of which honked in solidarity. Their march turned silent as they made their way through downtown, ostensibly to provoke curiosity instead of animosity from business owners, diners and passerby. But they turned up the volume for their final leg from the north end of Alvarado Street to City Hall, where 28 people had gathered with Barrett.

    "We're over 100!" an Occupier cheered as marchers passed around a sign-in sheet to prove that a triple-digit crowd had indeed turned out to stand with Barrett. Occupy Monterey organizers passed the mic to Barrett, who was visibly moved by the sight of his supporters.

    "My heart is running over," Barrett said to applause and drum beats. "I can’t tell you what it means to me to see all of you here right now." While he acknowledged his status as man of the hour, he stressed his desire for local Occupiers to build momentum beyond his vigil.

    "In the end, I’m just one man who stood up for an ideal," Barrett said. "Thank you for standing with me."

    Click here for a slideshow of Friday's march by Weekly Staff Photographer Nic Coury.

    For updates on Occupy Monterey, follow Weekly reporter Rebecca Robinson on Twitter.