Tent for Occupy Fairbanks protesters remains up despite orders from borough mayor

FAIRBANKS — The Occupy Fairbanks movement and borough officials can’t agree about the tent that protesters set up in an effort to stay warm during days of record-breaking cold in Alaska’s second-largest city.

The shelter is still up at Veterans Memorial Park despite instructions from Fairbanks North Star Borough officials to take it down, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Wednesday.

Group members have said they need the tent and its wood stove to continue to exercise their First Amendment rights of free speech and assembly. However, borough officials have said the tent violates park rules.

About six protesters have stayed at the downtown Fairbanks park 24 hours per day for more than a month.

During last Thursday’s Borough Assembly meeting, Assemblyman Michael Dukes asked the administration to set a hard deadline for the protesters to remove all the tents.

“We need to give them some firm ground rules to say today is the day,” he said.

That was the day that temperatures reached 41 degrees below zero in Fairbanks.

Mayor Luke Hopkins and Borough Attorney Renee Broker have been wary about the legal implications of taking a hard line with the protesters.

“The regulations that I have seen have actions in them that I think step strongly on First Amendment rights,” Hopkins said.

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