Don Turner stayed at the camp for as long as almost any of the other protesters.
Partly, he was there out of moral conviction. Partly, he stayed out of necessity.
Turner, who is homeless, said that before arriving at the encampment two weekends ago, he had been robbed and attacked on the streets more times than he could remember, as he moved from shelter to shelter.
Being around the hundreds of other protesters at the Fourth Precinct gave him some peace of mind, he said, not to mention a hot meal every night and a roof over his head, however temporary.
Still, he slept most nights with a small hatchet within arm’s reach for protection. Even within the camp he was wary of tension erupting.
Turner, a member of the all-volunteer “security team” responsible for patrolling the encampment’s perimeter, said that his old survival skills have come in handy more than once.
“I really have no other purpose than to support people and show them how to be warm,” he said. At the encampment, he stoked a fire fueled by wood and empty pizza boxes.
For days, Turner said, he and the other protesters lived under the constant threat of being forcefully evicted by police.
When that time came, he gathered his belongings, including a portable propane tank he used for cooking and heating the olive-colored tent he “inherited” sometime after the protest began. He left to sleep on a friend’s couch.
Story by Libor Jany
Photo by David Joles