From San Francisco to Boston, Wall Street to Washington D.C., San Diego to Des Moines, police have arrested hundreds of people involved in the nationwide Occupy (your city here) movement.
Not here in Salt Lake City.
With scores of tents dotting the south end of Pioneer Park, daily marches and a well-organized operation, Occupy SLC has maintained a peaceful presence. The key is communication, mutual respect and trust among the occupiers, police, city officials and local businesses.
"We've been able to develop a relationship with this group," says Deputy Chief Mike Brown, of the Salt Lake City Police Department. "I've participated in a conference call with 17 representatives from Boston, New York, San Diego, Detroit, Philly. I think we're doing things right here."
So does William Rutledge, Occupy SLC spokesman and a representative of their "peaceful, nonviolent status."
Well before people rallied at the Utah Capitol and marched downtown Thursday, he and others voted to remain calm, nonviolent and legal. To that end, three people meet daily with the police, discussing their plans and how to conduct them legally.
Day by day, police have been issuing 24-hour permits agreed to by the votes or consensus of the occupiers. Last Saturday, the occupiers broke down camp at 6 a.m. to allow the Farmers Market to open unhindered.
This time, the campers will disband by 10 p.m. on Friday "to make sure we're completely out of their way," Rutledge says. In exchange, the Farmers Market is supplying a booth in the nonprofit section, and the camp will set up again by mid-afternoon.
"A big part of our staying completely out of trouble is we strive for transparency in everything we do," he says. That includes sending an invitation to the city council, mayor and commissions, including housing and small business, to come down and see the camp on Friday evening.
The occupiers also took into account the homeless people who frequent the park, Rutledge says. To that end, a pair of occupiers told those people they'd be coming. Lately, the occupiers have been providing three meals a day to homeless people, and at midweek had collected about 50 blankets and given out 40.
There have been a few counter-demonstrators, but Rutledge says he and others approached them civilly and found "they are far more like us than they realized.
"We believe in open dialogue and debate here," he says. "We do range from the far left to the far right, but we try to remain nonpoliticized."
These occupiers also want to put a finer point on their message, which has decried corporate greed and claimed the government ignores the "99 percent" in favor of the 1 percent of richest Americans.
Rather, Rutledge says, "we aren't against wealth, but greed; business versus monopolies; government versus corruption. That's our motto this week."
Meanwhile, the demonstrators have been neither a boon nor bust for nearby businesses. Barista Falcon Bigney, of Carlucci's Bakery, on 300 West, says the cafÃ© had a rush on the first day, but none since.
"No trouble, not at all," she says, adding she hasn't heard any complaints for other businesses close by.
Same with Ann Ober, director of the city's administrative services division, who says she hasn't heard any complaints.
"We've really appreciated the individuals involved in the process," she says. "I appreciate the respect."
We all know that big crowds can devolve in a heartbeat, as they have done since the nation's origins. Civil rights, anti-war and all manner of movements have turned violent, and innocent people have been hurt, killed or arrested. It's the nature of crowd mentality.
But here and now, Salt Lake City has so far eluded such outcomes, based on mutual respect, cooperation and simple good manners. I hope it lasts.
Peg McEntee is a news columnist. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and facebook/pegmcentee.