Houston Mayor: 'Occupy' protestors need 'end game'


by Gabe Gutierrez / KHOU 11 News


Posted on January 2, 2012 at 6:48 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 2 at 8:01 PM

HOUSTON – The Occupy Houston movement is dwindling as Mayor Annise Parker made her strongest comments yet that the protestors need to move on from taxpayer-funded Tranquility Park.

Parker visited the protestors last week and later explained what she told them in a KHOU 11 News interview.

“They need to decide what the next phase is going to be,” she said. “They can’t simply continue to ‘occupy’ a space. They have to have an end game. And I can’t tell them what that is, but I want to make sure that we maintain a productive dialogue.”

Parker pointed out that she was glad the Houston version of the “Occupy” movement hadn’t turned violent like some others around the country. Besides a few minor arrests, the Houston group has mostly avoided any clashes with police.

But Parker’s patience seems to be running out.

“We have a tradition in America and in the Constitution that supports public protest,” she said. “But there needs to be a goal.”

When KHOU 11 News asked Occupy organizer Joe Roche about the group’s goals, he responded: “There (are) many different goals.”

He said the group is still focused on ending “corporate corruption” and the “gross inequality of wealth.”

But what about an end game?

“To be determined,” Roche said.

The group appears to be dwindling. It now blends together with several others – some who gather to play music at the park or play games. In fact, only a handful of people there still identify themselves as “occupiers.”

“There’s people dissolving,” Roche said. “(They’re) going to ‘occupy’ houses. Some are very, very interested in sustainability.”

But even as they struggle to articulate a clear message, part of the group remains defiant.

“I plan to be here as long as my heart keeps beating,” said John Sandoz, one of the protestors.

The “Occupy” movement has cost Houston considerably less than other major cities. As of late November, the city had racked up more than $11,000 in police overtime. No updated numbers were immediately available.

“I apologize for the inconvenience, but we’re looking to change the world here,” said Jamin Stocker.