Occupy Wall Street builds in Denver

By Sarah Ford

Published: Tuesday, October 11, 2011

More than 200 protesters rallied again on the steps of the Denver Capitol Building last Saturday in support of the spreading rallies against corporate greed that started in New York’s financial district.

The group continued their slogan chants of "We are the 99 percent" and "This is what democracy looks like," while they assembled at the capitol. The protesters marched through the streets of Denver, including gathering and protesting in front of the Federal Reserve.

"I’m here because, as a law student, I’ve seen how corruption can affect and permeate the law itself," said DU law student Daniel Garcia.

He also said he was concerned with the amount of debt he has accumulated throughout graduate school at the Sturm College of Law and believes the government is not supporting students who must build up large loans to attend college.

"Money should not be equivalent to voice," he said.

As the Occupy movement continues with great strength both in Denver and throughout the country and world, more students have taken up the cause with the movement to protest college debt, access to health care and a myriad of other issues.

"I’m just here as a college student worried about my future," said Hoyt Parkinson, a student at Colorado Mountain College. "This is a democracy, and people need to have a voice and use it."

Within the last week, the Occupy movement has seen both an increase in support throughout the world, as well as a rise in media coverage. There have been demonstrations in approximately 1,025 cities, according to the events document by OccupyTogether.org. On Saturday alone there were over 20 movements in other cities besides Denver, including Modesto and Napa, Calif., Los Angeles, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Portland, Ore., Albany, N.Y., Philadelphia and Bismarck, N.D.

Protesters also began in "General Assembly" meetings to discuss the direction of their movement.

"We have been threatened and intimidated," said one protester at the Occupy Denver rally in a "talk-back," in which one protester speaks his opinion in front of the group who echoes back each sentence. "But if you think that’s going to scare us away, you’re wrong."

Some members of the movement also camped out in the Civic Center Park in direct view of the capitol. About 20 tents can be seen from the steps where protesters have set up a permanent home. This action follows the hundreds who continue to camp out in New York’s Zuccotti Park.

The group has not released a list of goals for the movement, preferring to focus on garnering support. The sitewww.nycga.cc released a declaration expressing the core meaning of the movement. It lists a range of issues with corporations and calls the people to action.

"Our system must protect our rights, and, upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights and those of their neighbors," it reads. "No true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice and oppression over equality, run our governments."

"To live in the future it’s important to care now," said protester George Laws, who received a Masters in social work but has been out of work for four years after he was laid off by his construction company. "We don’t need a change in laws. What we need is a new paradigm based on respect."

This statement expresses the larger belief of the Occupy movement: respect for hard-working average citizens. Many come protesting their large amounts of debt, lack of a job, health care and desire for equal pay.

"I was paid $7.28 for a job in social work," said Laws. "We need to wake up and find a heart."

However, response to the movement, has seen controversy from those who believe the protesters are fighting a necessary part of society, including corporations, many Republicans and more. They argue that the financial corporations are fundamental to a fully-functioning economy and that the protesters are arguing against a necessary portion of the financial stability of the country.

Protesters continue to march, saying they represent those who have not joined the movement or are unaware of its message.

"If you have time to go have a beer or go to a party or talk for an hour on the phone with your friend, you have time to find out what we’re about," said Garcia.

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