In Oakland, Calif., where the camp on the City Hall lawn has become a tourist attraction, organizer Susanne Sarley said getting along for a common cause will be an ongoing challenge. "This is the homeless people's turf," Sarley said. "This area we're occupying is their home. We can't move them. We have to cooperate and respect the community that we're in."
The friction between the homeless and the protesters has not been the case in other cities. In Atlanta, for instance, it has been a benefit. The homeless have helped newbie protesters learn how to put up tents that can withstand wind gusts, maintain peace in close quarters and survive the outdoors.
Billy Jones, 28, provides security at the protests. Jones said he's not just looking for free food.
"Don't have the misconception that most homeless people are always out for a meal," Jones said. "I'm here because there are things I can lend that are helpful to the movement. I can get food anywhere. I don't have to be at Occupy Atlanta to get food."
In Salt Lake City, protesters see working with the homeless as an opportunity to demonstrate their political views. "We can help people get out of homelessness," said organizer Jesse Fruhwirth, 30. "We have already surpassed any effort the state or city has ever made to create a sober, happy space for the homeless."
Brent Jackson, 46, is one of the homeless who has been recruited as a volunteer and is an active member of a planning group. He said the protest's message rings especially true with homeless people. "The homeless are the bottom of the 99 percent," Jackson said, referring to the percent of Americans the protest says it represents.
"We have a lot of disillusioned Americans, but they don't think what happened to us can happen to them," he said. "Except it can."
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