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Sunday, October 26, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 46.0° F  Fair
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Occupy Madison reorganizes camp on East Washington Avenue
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On Saturday, about a dozen people - most of them homeless - set up tents on the 800 block of East Washington Avenue, near the former Occupy Madison site.

Occupy Madison started as a political protest in solidarity with others around the country in the fall of 2011. But as the group stayed throughout the winter, it started taking in many homeless people.

When its camping permit expired at the end of April, the city refused to grant the group an extension or find a new place for it to go. So people dispersed. Some began staying at county parks.

However, as winter approaches, those parks have closed. Allen Barkoff, an Occupy activist, says the group is now camping at the other end of the 800 block, down the street from its old campsite, which at times sheltered 100 people. This gives the encampment some distance from the construction site for a housing and office development going up on the 700 block of East Washington Avenue.

"People are trying to set it up to avoid the problems with uncontrolled growth that happened last year, by limiting who stays there and who doesn't," Barkoff says.

Although Mayor Paul Soglin has been hostile to the idea of a homeless camp, the city has yet to crack down on the new group.

Mayoral aide Miley says the mayor isn't thrilled with the situation. "It's a construction zone. There's no bathroom facility," she says. "It's just not a good location for camping."

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