Occupy Fort Lauderdale: Will It Float? (Or, When the 1 Percent Makes You Become a Pirate)

Categories: Broward News
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The future of "Occupy?"
Some organizers with Occupy Fort Lauderdale are debating whether to hold a demonstration at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show next weekend, possibly by banding together a flotilla of small boats and kayaks and peacefully floating by the marina.

But a few days ago, people on the group's Facebook page started floating an unusual idea: How about taking the occupation to the "high seas"?

The problem, it seems, is that no matter where you go on land (especially here in South Florida), you're on land that somebody owns. Either the government, which is free to create and enforce laws about its use, or a private citizen or company, in which case you're trespassing if they decide you should leave.

Could a roving flotilla à la Waterworld be the answer? The Pulp contacted a local maritime law expert to find out.

Robert M. Jarvis is a professor of law at Nova Southeastern University's Fort Lauderdale campus. "It's a very romantic notion," he admits, after chuckling for a while at the prospect of Occupy taking to the seas, "but it's not like you go on the water and you're free of all laws."

The problem? It takes a lot of effort to get out of the grasp of laws. First is the issue of the vessel. No matter where you go, even into international waters, says Jarvis, "You are always subject to the law of the flag" that the boat carries. If Occupiers were to, say, borrow a yacht from a supportive local citizen, they could go halfway to Greenland and still be under American laws.

Moreover, if you're on a boat that somebody owns and the owner starts getting pressure from the public because you're creating a "nuisance," they'll be likely to order you off -- at which time you'll be trespassing on their boat.

Let's take another scenario. Say the protesters assemble their own craft, a ragtag armada of kayaks, inflatable pool boats, rafts made of tied-together driftwood, whatever. They drop into the Intracoastal and float leisurely along, banging bongos and smoking weed peaceably demonstrating. They'll still be subject to two authorities: the Florida Marine Patrol and the U.S. Coast Guard.

"All of these are going to work in cooperation with city officials" near where the flotilla is protesting, says Jarvis. In addition, the patrol agencies maintain the right to board your vessel at any time to conduct a search for contraband.

And even if you're not breaking any laws? "They'll say, 'These are not seaworthy vessels, and they are dangerous,' and they'll be taken off the water," Jarvis says.

They could always go farther, somehow paddling their vessels past Florida's jurisdiction into U.S. sovereign territory, and farther on, some 200 miles out, into the high seas. And then -- this is where shit gets real -- they'll face the same harsh reality faced by centuries of people who were fed up with not being able to escape somebody else's laws on land and took to the high seas in boats bearing no flag.

"They'd then be on 'piratical vessels,'" says Jarvis. "The definition of a pirate is someone not under the law or jurisdiction of any country. They could then be taken in by any country" and prosecuted as outlaws.

Which would sort of take the "Fort Lauderdale" out of "Occupy Fort Lauderdale."

But if they somehow come across a registered vessel or two of their own and don't break any laws and find a marina willing to dispose of their sewage? Then it's on, at least until enough wealthy yacht owners complain. Hey, they'll be less obnoxious than the people blasting Top 40 hits and throwing beer cans in the water.


Stefan Kamph is a New Times staff writer.
The Pulp: Facebook | @thePulpBPB
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15 comments
David H Dennis
David H Dennis

People who drop out on the water are called "Liveaboards" and they usually have to lease space of some sort, whether moorings or marinas.  I've done some research, and t's a pretty interesting lifestyle.  Biggest problem is that most marinas find it easier to deal with the 99% who never visit their boats as opposed to the 1% who are on them all the time, actually using electricity, bathrooms, showers and other resources.  So liveaboards are often discouraged, especially during boom times in the boating industry.  I suspect your typical live aboard would get a much warmer welcome at marinas now than in most times in the recent past.

Unless the real estate crash becomes enormously crashier, however, the live aboard lifestyle is still the cheapest way to an ocean view ... and if you own your own boat and can anchor or moor it out, it can be one of the cheapest lifestyles around, certainly one of the cheapest with any real appeal.

Watch out for marina fees and boat maintenance, however.  More to the point, it's highly unlikely an occupy group could occupy a specific part of a marina.  Your slip is normally assigned by the marina, not selected by you, and it would be almost impossible to get a large bloc of slips together unless the marina is new and management cooperative.  Because liveaboards can serve as informal police and help with security they are often spread out in the marina instead of concentrated together.

D

Monique Everhart
Monique Everhart

This is really ridiculous. This idea was never seriously proposed. To read the real news about Occupy Fort Lauderdale read the examiner...Under my name of course!!!  BTW Occupy Fort Lauderdale has an Arts & Culture Committee now come to Bubier Park Wednesday nite at 7pm to get involved:)

Mrsrizzle
Mrsrizzle

This article is complete sh*t.  The author should be fired....

Funny how a lot of comments have been deleted.......  Guess they are NOT interested in EVERYONE's comments.

FQS9000
FQS9000

The only group in America to INCREASE employment in the last 2 years are the union funguses in the Service Employees Union, the teacher's union and bureaucrats on the state and Federal levels.  And the FIRST thing the lying politicians claim they are going to do is cut the police and firemen,  Never, EVER to they try cutting the number of parasites hanging around the city hall that are doing 'do gooder' worthless deeds.  To balance any city budget all that is required is to pay the bureaucrats the same as the private sector gets for the same job, privatize services and scrape the parasites off of the city payroll.  Keep the cops and firemen.

wmrandall
wmrandall

The people of Fort Lauderdale and South Florida are too smart for that.  They won't poop where they live.  They know the problems all emanate from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave in D.C.  and that is where i expect you will find them.  Any trouble or trouble makers will be imports and I am sure will be dealt with.

nuQlerOstrich
nuQlerOstrich

Ridiculous article.  Banging bongos?  Smoking weed.?  Methinks the writer doth protest too much.  It's called transference in psych-speak.  The demonstrators are outraged that the FED gave $16 Trillion dollars to the Wall Street Bankers while out in the cities and towns of America we are laying off Teachers and First-Responders and stripping them of their pensions.  Those pensions, by the way were bargained for by giving up good salaries over decades so that a decent retirement could be had.  And now it's being taken away and there has been not a single prosecution for the theft of at least $16 Trillion by the 1%  If you are one of the 99% and you aren't upset by that, take another toke on whatever it is you're smoking.

Drs4614
Drs4614

A kayak or rubber raft certainly is seaworthy, and the Florida Marine Patrol and Coast Guard just can't contradict reality.

Eric Barton
Eric Barton

Mrsrizzle, comments with links in them get automatically eaten by our spam filter, but otherwise, we don't delete comments unless they violate our terms of use, mostly if they're libelous or malicious in nature. So you can even say hurtful things like a writer should be fired and you're still OK.

Also, I'll just throw out that paddleboards would be awesome for the protests.

nuQlerOstrich
nuQlerOstrich

Opinions are everybody's right, but you can't have your own facts.  If you look at history, you will see that the greatest economy in the world, that worked for the most People and raised the standard of living the greatest since the caveman crawled out from his cave, was the time in America after WWII when taxes on Billionaires top rate was 91% -  AND -  Our UNIONS WERE THE STRONGEST.  Look today, the taxes on Billionaires has never been lower, and the Unions are at their lowest membership and declining.  Welcome to Reaganomics.  How's that trickle down thing working out for you?

Curt Petersen
Curt Petersen

While private sector jobs wages has been decreasing for the last 30 plus years the union jobs has kept their wages fair. Now that the private employers are giving people less you want your union neighbors to join in the misery. I don't understand this logic. Instead of being jealous that the union employee has a great compensation package for the work they do, why don't you demand a better wage from the private employer? This race to the bottom mentality is destroying this country at the expense of us all. Look at the whole picture. Just one example why we are in this debacle. The banks pushed sub-prime loans on as much people as they can. Bundle those loans as mortgage backed securities. Sold them all over the world as AAA rated. The market crashed. People lost their homes and jobs. The cities and counties lost their tax base. Public servants took pay cuts or lost their jobs too. The people that caused this to happen should be the ones paying for it. Yet the banks got bailed out. They foreclosed on peoples homes. They got reimbursed from HUD on homes that short sale for the less then the balance of the loan. Yet you blame the people that did nothing wrong. That's some great logic!

nuQlerOstrich
nuQlerOstrich

You forgot Capitol Hill where the big auction of Congressmen and Senators is held every two years.  Just look at Obamas policies.  Same as Bush's policies.  New Boss - same as the old Boss.  That should tell you that neither is/was in charge.  It all goes right up to their masters -  on WALL STREET.  You see in today's posts that BoA just moved a 55 Trillion Dollar bag of crap from their Merrill accounts over to BoA retail where it's FDIC insured?  That means the American Taxpayer is going to own another $55 T of crap.  That's TRILLIONS, not billions.  And not one prosecution of a hi-level banking executive.  Not one!

J
J

im not happy about the 16 trillion but not happy with your comment about first responders etc giving up good salaries..go on line and see what these people are knocking down as pensions and going out and getting another job  get with the real world

wmrandall
wmrandall

Let's replace them ALL! We really need a fresh start. No more career politicians! That would be a great start. No more groveling to special interest agendas of any kind. Country First!

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