Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A former protester claims Occupy KC is preoccupied with sex and drugs, but an occupier says that's not true

Posted By on Wed, Nov 9, 2011 at 7:00 AM


Is Occupy Kansas City a den of drugs and hookers howling through the night? It is if you believe a TV news report last week. After all, nothing goes with revolution like a little weed and banging.

A former occupier named Bill Shelton told KSHB Channel 41 that he could “stomach” only five nights at the Occupy Kansas City camp in Penn Valley Park due to all the drugs and sex.

Shelton, whom other occupiers recall working with and seeing at the site, told KSHB: “Allowing that to happen in front of children — and you can hear it going on in tents, you can hear it in the night and you can hear it in the daytime.”

Shelton added that he hopes Mayor Sly James shuts down the camp.

The problem with Shelton’s claims is that they aren’t backed by anyone else.

The Kansas City police, who make daily stops at the camp, haven’t made one arrest for drugs or prostitution at Occupy Kansas City.

“I must have been going 2 wrong rallies,” one protester wryly responded to the allegation on Twitter. “I haven’t been offered 1 prostitute or joint.”

That mirrors my experience. I spent a day at the camp for last week’s cover story and didn’t see anyone using or hooking.

Tyler Crane, an occupier who has mostly lived at the camp since it started on September 30, disputes Shelton’s claims.

“There’s no pimps here,” Crane says. “There’s no hos here. To me, that’s just laughable.

“He might have misinterpreted two people consensually hooking up,” adds Crane, who admits that sex does happen at the camp. “We don’t live in a Footloose community.”

Shelton’s sordid story of life in a supposed red-light district was just the latest headache for Occupy KC, which has dealt with freezing temperatures, heavy rain and an attack on its website. Shelton’s turn also was unexpected.

He appeared to be a committed member of the Occupy movement. Crane says: “He seemed like a really cool guy. He was helping organizing things, helping me do dishes. He genuinely seemed like he cared.”

If that were true at one point, it’s not anymore. Occupiers in other cities have posited that police and conservative activists have been infiltrating Occupy camps to discredit their protesters. If that has made some suspicious of Shelton, Crane is willing to give Shelton the benefit of the doubt.

“If he was intending to sabotage the group, why would he help us clean dishes? Why would he help us organize trash and pick the camp up?” Crane wonders. “I think he might just be a little misdirected.”

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