“Occupy Yosemite” protests the government shutdown

occupy yosemite“Occupy Yosemite” By Rob Gill

The Government’s Shutdown of all National Parks has angered both tourists and locals of the Eastern Sierra alike and one Mono County resident decided to, “take a stand.”  Stacey Powells of Mammoth Lakes has been best known as News Director of KMMT-FM, but last Friday she decided to get out from behind the microphone and pick up a protest sign. Taking a page (or at least the name) from the “Occupy Wallstreet” movement, Powells started her own movement called “Occupy Yosemite.”

Powell’s original plan was to rally a crowd at the Tioga Gas Mart and lead a convoy into Yosemite Park eventually stopping at Toulomne Meadows. The sparse crowd that showed up at Tioga Gas Mart and rumors of heavy resistance from the park staff derailed Powell’s initial plan. After waiting for more participant’s for awhile, a group of about fifteen, which included Mono County Supervisor Byng Hunt, headed to the gate. Upon arrival the small band of protestors were not met with the opposition that they expected.  The park staff had indeed heard about the protest , however, their instructions were not to keep the protestors out of the park. Tom Medema, Chief Ranger for Interpretation and Education, met the group at the gate and informed them that they would allow the group to come in temporally and set up in a safe place along the road to express their opinions. Medema was quoted saying, “it is never easy to have to keep people out of the park.”

While the protestor’s were permitted to park inside the park, “Occupy Yosemite” ended up taking place right outside of the entrance.  Holding signs and calling out to those entering the park, the Protest was received very positively by both the park staff and those passing through Yosemite. Many travelers honked their horns and took pictures and a few travelers  stopped their cars and got out to show their support. While the “Occupy Yosemite” movement didn’t turn out how it was originally planned, at least some people decided to speak out about these beautiful parks not being open to the public due to the Government Shutdown.



18 Responses to “Occupy Yosemite” protests the government shutdown

  1. Mark October 8, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

    It wasn’t a real Occupy movement unless the place was trashed after they left

    I think I would have picked another name for the event 😉

    • JeremiahJoseph October 9, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

      Seriously Mark? but the original Occupy movement was protesting how big banks can trade the most risky loans “derivatives” of OUR tax payer money and privatize all the gains but make “we the people”‘ pay for the loss’s, Yes I understand the mainstream medias blasted the general public with all the bad of Occupy but forgot to put in the parts that made people angry enough to leave their jobs and family in effort to make our country a better place…
      Thats what I saw in the Occupy movement of 2011, and you know what from what I remember it started not here in the states but in Egypt at tahrir square.
      Unfortunately the will of the people is not a profitable business for corporations and industry’s, but it should and will prevail!

  2. k October 8, 2013 at 7:59 pm #

    When I first read the headline i thought it was saying that the occupy yosemite protests had been shut down.

    • Benett Kessler October 8, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

      Yeah. I just saw how that could be confusing. Will change it.

  3. Pedro October 8, 2013 at 8:18 pm #

    Thank you Stacey. A fair amount of attention for your group size. Exercising our rights is good for everyone.

  4. upthecreek October 8, 2013 at 9:25 pm #


    • Desert Tortoise October 9, 2013 at 7:20 am #

      Park staff handled the protesters very deftly I thought.

  5. Stacey Powells October 8, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Thank you Sierra Wave, Rob Gill, Benett, Bob T., for bringing this to light. We are not finished with this…stay tuned!

    • Desert Tortoise October 9, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

      Protesting a park closure during a period when there is no appropriation bill to fund government operations is a waste of energy in my opinion. We have far more important problems that need attention, not the least of which are the influence of money in politics, our failure to enforce anti-trust laws that are grounded in sound economics with the resulting concentrations of both economic and political power that is the natural outcome of this failure, poverty and it’s effects on education, i could go on.

      Whining that park is closed is like complaining about the paint chip on an abandoned house that is suffering from massive dry rot and a cracked foundation. If you have the energy and inclination you could do much more useful things.

      • Benett Kessler October 9, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

        But it sometimes takes government acts that are obviously close to home to really enrage people and prompt them to action.

      • Pedro October 9, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

        Our land and natural resources are the foundation on which the house was built. It is one of the first things we should expect our leaders to protect.

        • Desert Tortoise October 9, 2013 at 8:30 pm #

          You are picking an argument with the wrong group. They are every bit as much the victims as the motel owners in Lee Vining.

          I don’t know how many rangers you get to interact with but the ones I have met have all been good hard working people. But if you listen to them, most of their heartache comes from slobs who visit campgrounds and litter, damage things, abandon cars, set fires, get into fights, and basically behave like hoodlums. They do not have the staff to keep the parks looking the way they would really like in the first place, then the “guests” come up and tear it up further. I don’t think you realize how frustrated and sad they are with the way our parks, which they very much care about and take pride in, are mistreated by so much of the public.

          Then through no fault of their own they are told to close the parks to the public, and what happens? Some self aggrandizing media twit decides to stage a protest, against the very same park rangers. So I have no apologies for criticizing Ms. Powells. She got her name in lights. Bully. Maybe she could use that energy where it would be productive rather than heaping more abuse on the hard working and under funded rangers in our national parks.

          • Pedro October 9, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

            You are bit off point with this one. Show me one instance of protest or abuse directed at Yosemite staff. This article states ” Protest was received very positively by both the park staff and those passing through “. If you have proof otherwise then document your claims.

            Otherwise don’t abuse this group by comparing them with “hoodlums”.

            Maybe you could use that energy where it would be productive rather than heaping more abuse on the hard working and dedicated citizens assembling peaceably in our national parks.

    • JeremiahJoseph October 9, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

      Good job Stacey!
      For some reason “we the people” have become so complacent like things will work themselves out?
      Hey “we the people!” Democracy is not a spectator sport!

  6. Socialism is slavery October 9, 2013 at 9:33 am #

    I thought this article summed it perfectly.

    The Park Police

    Jonathan V. Last

    October 21

    “We are a nation that has a government—not the other way around.”
    —Ronald Reagan

    The conduct of the National Park Service over the last week might be the biggest scandal of the Obama administration. This is an expansive claim, of course. Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the IRS, the NSA, the HHS mandate​—​this is an administration that has not lacked for appalling abuses of power. And we still have three years to go.

    Even so, consider the actions of the National Park Service since the government shutdown began. People first noticed what the NPS was up to when the World War II Memorial on the National Mall was “closed.” Just to be clear, the memorial is an open plaza. There is nothing to operate. Sometimes there might be a ranger standing around. But he’s not collecting tickets or opening gates. Putting up barricades and posting guards to “close” the World War II Memorial takes more resources and manpower than “keeping it open.”

    The closure of the World War II Memorial was just the start of the Park Service’s partisan assault on the citizenry. There’s a cute little historic site just outside of the capital in McLean, Virginia, called the Claude Moore Colonial Farm. They do historical reenactments, and once upon a time the National Park Service helped run the place. But in 1980, the NPS cut the farm out of its budget. A group of private citizens set up an endowment to take care of the farm’s expenses. Ever since, the site has operated independently through a combination of private donations and volunteer workers.

    The Park Service told Claude Moore Colonial Farm to shut down.

    The farm’s administrators appealed this directive​—​they explained that the Park Service doesn’t actually do anything for the historic site. The folks at the NPS were unmoved. And so, last week, the National Park Service found the scratch to send officers to the park to forcibly remove both volunteer workers and visitors.

    Think about that for a minute. The Park Service, which is supposed to serve the public by administering parks, is now in the business of forcing parks they don’t administer to close. As Homer Simpson famously asked, did we lose a war?

    We’re not done yet. The parking lot at Mount Vernon was closed by the NPS, too, even though the Park Service does not own Mount Vernon; it just controls access to the parking lots from the George Washington Parkway. At the Vietnam Memorial​—​which is just a wall you walk past​—​the NPS called in police to block access. But the pièce de résistance occurred in South Dakota. The Park Service wasn’t content just to close Mount Rushmore. No, they went the extra mile and put out orange cones to block the little scenic overlook areas on the roads near Mount Rushmore. You know, just to make sure no taxpayers could catch a glimpse of it.

    It’s one thing for politicians to play shutdown theater. It’s another thing entirely for a civil bureaucracy entrusted with the privilege of caring for our national heritage to wage war against the citizenry on behalf of a political party.

    This is how deep the politicization of Barack Obama’s administration goes. The Park Service falls under the Department of the Interior, and its director is a political appointee. Historically, the directorship has been nonpartisan and the service has functioned as a civil, not a political, unit. Before the current director, Jonathan Jarvis, was nominated by President Obama, he’d spent 30 years as a civil servant. But he has taken to his political duties with all the fervor of a third-tier hack from the DNC, marrying the disinterested contempt of a meter maid with the zeal of an ambitious party apparatchik.

    It’s worth recalling that the Park Service has always been deeply ambivalent about the public which they’re charged with serving. In a 2005 Weekly Standard piece about the NPS’s plan to reconfigure the National Mall, Andrew Ferguson reported:

    The Park Service’s ultimate desire was made public, indiscreetly, by John Parsons, associate regional park director for the mall. In 2000 Parsons told the Washington Post he hoped that eventually all unauthorized traffic, whether by foot or private car, would be moved off the mall. Visitors could park in distant satellite lots and be bused to nodal points, where they would be watered and fed, allowed to tour a monument, and then reboard a bus and head for another monument. “Just like at Disneyland,” Parsons told the Post. “Nobody drives through Disneyland. They’re not allowed. And we’ve got the better theme park.”

    Yes, yes. They must protect America’s treasures from the ugly Americans. No surprise then that one park ranger explained to the Washington Times last week, “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can.”

    “To make life as difficult for people as we can”​—​that would be an apt motto for the Obama worldview. And now even the misanthropes at the National Park Service have been yoked to his project. This is the clearest example yet of how the president understands the relationship between his government and the citizenry.

    • Benett Kessler October 9, 2013 at 11:49 am #

      From your statement, it appears the bureaucracy, not the President, has long held the view (you said the year 2000 and it was probably way earlier) that they control the public. This is one of the obvious characteristics of bureaucracy. Look at our own local bureaus. The organization begins and empires start to form. The public becomes a mere inconvenience and excuse for their existence. Can the President alter that? Who knows. I agree with you that the NSA is scandalous. Health Reform is unquestionably needed to help our people. Consider global living – Switzerland just decided to end poverty in their country by voting in a mandatory salary for all adults of $2800 per month. Of course, they don’t spend billions on war and aggression all over the world nor on an exorbitant Homeland Security and spy budgets. Why not point a finger at Congress where clearly Mr. Boehner could call for a vote on a bill to get government going again and the votes would be there. NBC News proved it last night with a vote count.
      Benett Kessler

      • Wayne Deja October 9, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

        Benett….Isn’t it President Obama’s fault for EVERYTHING going wrong now?…..Let’s see what happens with the mid-term elections coming next year…We’ll see who the American people will be blaming for this shut-down…..my guess is ….time to” take out the garbage” in the Senate and the House to where they all can finally get something done…..before it’s too late.

    • Pedro October 9, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

      I’d say Obama’s biggest scandal is lying about his intentions in Iraq and Guantanamo. Seen one president, seen them all.


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