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Occupy Wall Street movement comes to Champaign-Urbana

Assistant Editor

Published: Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 12:10

occupy c-u

Photo by Briana Stodden/Prospectus News

On October 15, 2011 approximately 400 Residents of all ages from Champaign-Urbana marched in an Occupy CU demonstration. The march started at WEFT radio station and strung through downtown Champaign ending in Westside Park for a rally in an effort to bring awareness to corporate corruption in politics and the economy. Demonstrators carried signs made with personal messages voicing issues that mattered to them.

Jim Bean, a citizen of Champaign-Urbana, carried a strong message for the crowd of around 400 demonstrators gathered in West Side Park on October 15.

"We're not stopping until we win!"

The crowd gathered around noon Saturday, immediately following a march from WEFT studios. The march and demonstration were part of the Global Day of Action, "a simultaneous network of actions, demonstrations, and protests that are calling for the end of the financial corruption, fueled by corporate greed, of governments all over the world," according to informational sheets handed out at the demonstration.

People from the Champaign - Urbana area gathered to show their support for the Occupy Wall Street movement, which the Occupy Champaign-Urbana protest was affiliated with.

Not only did those in attendance make a statement, there were also people from different organizations who gave speeches explaining what they believe are the goals of the movement, as well as the problems with government and corporations that are affecting the US.

According to Bean, the three most important things that could come out of the movement are to break up the monopolies of "too big to fail" financial companies, to prohibit the use of public money for private lobbying and real campaign finance reform.

Claudia Lennhoff of Champaign County Health Care Consumers was second to take the stage. Lennhoff proposed that there are six big lies that the government has told the people. Tax cuts for the rich trickle down, tax cuts for the rich create jobs, shrinking the government creates jobs, budget cuts will increase employment and help the economy, Medicare and Medicaid are major drivers of budget issues, social security is a Ponzi scheme and that the people at the bottom of the economy don't pay taxes.

The next speaker, who was from the International Socialist Organization, proposed demands such as taxing the rich, living wages for all, single payer healthcare, and breaking the monopoly of "big business with two wings," referring to the government.

There were other speakers throughout the afternoon, including two Iraq war veterans and a teacher from the Mahomet Public School system.

The final speaker of the day was Josh Hartke, who attempted to drive home the point that corporations are not people. In an interview after the rally, Hartke explained what he believes is at the heart of the protests and demonstrations.

"I think there are a lot of folks out there that have had the same frustrations for years. A lot of people have had trouble putting it into words. It's a matter of being over-stressed at work. It's a matter of not being able to be sure if your kids are going to go to school, and if they do go to school are they going to be able to find a job," he said.

Another demonstrator, who identified himself as Munchie, gave his interpretation of the movement.

"The purpose of this is to realize that we as people have individual powers they can't take away from us; no one can take away from us. And with that power comes the responsibility and the privilege to live a lavish life; you know live, a really good life."

Munchie, as well as others at the march and rally, wore a Guy Fawkes mask. This mask has been associated with the group Anonymous and was originally from the film V for Vendetta.

Brad Donnals, who was seen after the main rally, felt that the movement's cause could be summed up by the statement, "middle class America is disappearing." As ambiguous as this statement might seem, it most likely boils down to the idea that the "American Dream" is no longer attainable by the average citizen.

As diverse as the opinions of the demonstrators may be, they can all be summed up by a chant that could be heard throughout downtown Champaign during the march from WEFT to West Side Park: "Banks got bailed out; we got sold out." As the movement is spreading, better definitions of their goals are being identified.

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