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Local Committee Plans To Build A Park in An Abandoned Lot in Tempe Coincidentally Owned By Brookfield Asset Management


By John Guzzon
Modern Times Magazine

April 23, 2012 — A group of Phoenix-based activists are planning a series of actions beginning this Sunday, including the “takeover” of a vacant lot in downtown Tempe on Sunday — which is coincidentally owned by the same company that owns Zuccotti Park on Wall Street — to hold a picnic and “build” a park.

“On April 29th we will build a park and have a picnic in an abandoned space in Downtown Tempe. We will be working with community groups and concerned folks who want parks not condos. We are in open defiance of the idea that you can sit on land that people need. To succeed this action needs you to bring canopies, water, plants, grass, gazebos ANYTHING that you can spare. This will be a ton of fun and if done right, will inspire many more to act,” according to the Phoenix May Day Action Committee press release.

The vacant lot at the northwest corner of Ash Avenue and University Drive is the location of the “park” organizers are hoping to create. The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office website lists the owner of the parcel as BREOF of Tempe Land REO LP. Andrew Willis, senior vice president of communications and media at Brookfield Asset Management Inc. said the company uses the name listed on the report for one of its funds, but declined further comment.

Brookfield Asset Management is a Toronto-Ontario, Canada, based-business that manages a global portfolio of more than $150 billion. Largely unknown before 2011, Brookfield owns Zuccotti Park, the World Financial Center and many other properties around the globe, including the vacant lot at Ash Avenue and University Drive. It was at their behest, along with the City of New York, that the police department cleared the park Nov. 15, 2011.

One member of the committee, who would only speak to Modern Times Magazine on the condition of anonymity, said organizers were not aware that the owners of the parcel they had targeted for several months was the same company that owned the spot where the Occupy movement was born in October, 2011, but were overjoyed at the coincidence.

“Since the first meeting we knew we were going for that lot, three or four months now,” he said.

Although Occupy Phoenix has endorsed the May Day actions, the Phoenix May Day Action Committee is not an extension of the group.

The Tempe picnic and park-building event will begin at 11 a.m. Sunday. Organizers are calling on people to gather at Farmer Avenue and University Drive, which is just south of the Ash and University lot. A march and rally will begin at 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 1 at Marshall Way and Main Street in Scottsdale.

“On May 1st we will join the worldwide revolt and participate in a general strike. We will be in Downtown Scottsdale to declare our open defiance to the wealth that permeates and the police state that protects it. Now is the time to get your crew together and make your plans to join up. Bring necessary items for a revolutionary street festival,” according to the press release from the Phoenix May Day committee.

The Valley events on April 29 and May 1 were inspired by an initial call from Occupy Los Angeles for a general strike on May 1.

“In protest against the corruption of the worldwide marketplace, which has led to illegal foreclosures, mass unemployment, low wages, high taxes and a penalization of all those who do not own the ‘99%’ of the world’s resources, and in solidarity with the immigrant movements of May 1st...we are calling upon the people of the world to take this day away from school and the workplace, so that their absence makes their displeasure with this corrupt system be known,” according to a release from Occupy Los Angeles.

Since Occupy Los Angeles sparked that initiative in November, literally hundreds of supporting groups from around the globe — including more than 115 in the U.S. —  have pledged to support actions and general strikes on May 1. The San Francisco Examiner reported April 22 that some are expecting a shutdown of the Golden Gate bridge.

Elsewhere in Arizona, activities in Tucson will begin at 9 a.m. with a Coalition March for Immigrant and Workers Rights, from Greyhound Park, 2601 South 3rd Ave., to Armory Park, Fifth Ave. and 12th St., where a rally begins at noon and will include speakers, entertainment and information booths.

Afterwards, Occupy Tucson will host entertainment, potluck, and other activities at Armory Park "well into the evening."

John Guzzon is editor of Modern Times Magazine.
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