El Paso, TX
Occupy Wall Street spread to El Paso, and participants in Occupy El Paso (OEP) spent over a month camped out in San Jacinto Square. Fr. Bob accompanied the visiting group of Creighton University students twice while they visited and talked with organizers and shared their food with them. Eight occupiers were arrested for a day and charged with public disorder, when they refused to leave the area. Fr. Bill Morton and others attended a special city council meeting which decided to delegate city permits for large commercial events to a private company. The council members assured meeting attendees that free-speech events like Occupy El Paso would not be included under this kind of permit.
The Occupy El Paso members invited Fr. Bill to help them in their General Assembly meeting to determine future actions and how to respond to the arrest of some of their members. Fr. Bill offered advice and support and was very moved to see young adults participating in public sessions of local government, using their rights to free speech and assembly in such a visible way.
In addition to their involvement with Occupy El Paso, the Columban Mission Center in El Paso spoke to economic justice by sponsoring an alternative gift fair on Black Friday. Only fairly traded goods were available for sale and the proceeds directly benefited the communities producing the items.