Local 'Occupy' protesters to merge efforts

Local 'Occupy' protesters to merge efforts

URBANA — A group of area residents concerned about financial greed, political corruption and the United States' participation in wars has been holding separate daily demonstrations in downtown Champaign and downtown Urbana for about a week.

Starting on Wednesday, Occupy Champaign-Urbana plans to begin holding consolidated demonstrations at 8 a.m. weekdays and at noon Saturdays and Sundays at the corner of University Avenue and Randolph Street in Champaign, according to Jesse Francis, one of the leaders of the local movement.

Francis announced on Tuesday that Occupy Champaign-Urbana will hold its first organizational meeting 6 p.m. today at the Clark Bar, 207 W. Clark St., C.

Then the group plans to hold a rally featuring speakers at noon Oct. 15 at West Side Park in Champaign.

Francis, a musician from Urbana, said he first got excited about the Occupy movement when he read stories about Occupy demonstrations on Wall Street and in cities across the country.

"When I realized there was no Occupy presence on Facebook here in our area, I started a Facebook page to establish Occupy Champaign-Urbana," Francis said.

Francis said he launched the Facebook page last Friday; it had more than 100 "likes" by Tuesday afternoon.

He said he believes the Occupy movement began out of frustration.

"We expected change in the last election, and it didn't materialize," Francis said. "We have pent-up frustration."

He said he believes the Occupy movement appeals to people from both major political parties as well as independents.

Francis said the demonstrators are concerned about financial corruption on Wall Street, the mortgage crisis, bailouts for banks, increased personal debt for many Americans, political corruption, the costs of health care and the United States' involvement in wars.

"We're still fighting wars that Obama said he would get out of, and he is starting more wars in Pakistan and Libya," Francis said. "When Obama was elected, a lot of people thought things would turn around in America, and we are worse off."

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ronaldo wrote on October 05, 2011 at 8:10 am

Musician? Really. So we've got one end of the spectrum (slacker, no motivation to contribute to society) protesting the perceived illusion of the other end of the spectrum (overly motivated, contributing to society, and actually turning a - dare I say it? - profit). Surprise, Surprise.

Two things that are not mentioned in the article:

1) Does Mr. Francis really think that the non-contributors should be living the lifestyle of the contributors, and vice versa? And if so, exactly what is he basing that delusion on?

2) Please tell me that his real means of making a living was left out of the story. I'd hate to think that anyone could take him seriously without one.

peabody wrote on October 05, 2011 at 11:10 am

So in one breath you brand all musicians as slackers or non-contributors, and in the other you're commanding other people to "stick to the issues." And how do his means of making a living make his point about Wall Street any more or less relevant? And how can you say that musicians don't contribute to society, anyway?

I don't think you're voicing an independent assessment at all, ronaldo. I've seen variations of your comment repeated in virtually every other news story about this movement. You and countless other commenters have been working your tails off to portray the protesters as dirty vagabonds with worthless degrees and pointless jobs. It's a theme, it's a pattern, and people should start asking where it's coming from. If you "stick to the issues" it's hard to believe that anyone would take Wall Street's side in this story.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on October 10, 2011 at 9:10 pm
Profile Picture

Music is a renewable resource. A billion dollar industry, it generates wealth via private enterprise. It can also be shared freely, with little to no financial or social costs.

A durable good — lessened in value by neither planned nor innate obsolescence — music's consumers tend to buy more and more of it, enriching its entrepreneurs.

parkmymeterelsewhere wrote on October 05, 2011 at 9:10 am

Ronaldo's assessment of his fellow human is why we need more earthroot movement.

ronaldo wrote on October 05, 2011 at 9:10 am

Be more specific, please, and stick to the issues. What's your point?

parkmymeterelsewhere wrote on October 05, 2011 at 11:10 am

the three R's?

ronaldo wrote on October 05, 2011 at 11:10 am

So my original assessment that there was no point seems to be correct. Thank you for clearing that up.

coltenjackson wrote on October 06, 2011 at 4:10 am

The issue is that not enough people are involved in the democratic process. We've made politics into a taboo subject that only incites argument, so we mostly just don't talk about it. And yet we're completely unsatisfied with the politicians who we are asked to vote between. We have been getting more frustrated, and worse apathetic.

We've now reached a tipping point where people are no longer willing to accept that their only recourse to their dissatisfaction is to vote in the next election. We've done that, some of us voted for Obama because he gave us so many promises of change, some of us voted for Tea Party candidates because they promised to put an end to things which seemed outrageous to us. And yet more people lose their jobs and their homes while we drop bombs on more countries and build larger, more heavily fortified military bases in the most hostile countries in the world.

I urge everyone to read the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City which the general assembly in NYC put together and voted on. It can be found at nycga.cc - printable versions are available on occupy217.ucimc.org, which is a site hosted by the independent media center in champaign-urbana. You're welcome to come by the site, read the thoughts I've posted there, and respond in kind.

These are protests unlike anything many people have every seen, unless they've been looking closely at Egypt and Spain - places where it is now the commonplace for people to assemble in large groups, come up with ideas on how they want to be governed and how to move forward, and vote on them as a crowd. The progress we humans have made in communicating as a group are astounding and fascinating, and I invite everyone to participate in a General Assembly where inspiration, grievances, education, and aspiration for a greater future are shared. Again, visit http://occupy217.ucimc.org/ and the facebook page mentioned in the article to help get involved (have your voice heard, even if you think you disagree with the message thus far!).

Yatiri wrote on October 06, 2011 at 9:10 am

I think you hit the nail on the head there Park.

Part of that change includes not listening to the divisive voices. For too long we have allowed ourselves to be divided and conquered with wedge issues.

Painting those we disagree with as "slackers" and "no motivation to contribute to society" is childish, dirty fighting. The rules are we debate ideas and issues with respect for one another.

We all agree that the status quo is intolerable and not sustainable.

I urge Ronaldo to enter a truce, don't attack until you listen, get to know the person you are labeling a slacker and someone who doesn't want to contribute. The guy is out there trying to hold Wall Street and big business accountable. In fact he is demonstrating that he is no slacker and is eager to contribute.

Ron wrote on October 05, 2011 at 9:10 am

Love the beret. He is obviously a socialist French infiltrator. Protesting increased personal debt for many Americans? Well yea, I bought it. Now I gotta pay for it??

coltenjackson wrote on October 06, 2011 at 4:10 am

We are protesting a multitude of things. If you're unfamiliar with the movement, I've written up some thoughts of mine at http://occupy217.ucimc.org/ where you're welcome to create an account and share ideas of your own. We're trying to encourage and facilitate discussion, so it's commonplace for citizens to make decisions on how they want to be governed as a group.

While many are angry that they are stuck with debt they thought wouldn't be a problem (see: college students who were told their degree would get them a job and ex-homeowners who were told from all sides that the value of their house would go up and up - but now owe more than their house is worth) - the larger issue is that we need to make it commonplace to talk to our neighbors and fellow citizens about what we can do to help each other move forward as a nation.

John O'Connor wrote on October 05, 2011 at 10:10 am

Bush/Cheney, and, let's be frank, Clinton/Gore before them, deregulated Wall Street and the banking industry, opening the door to massive fraud and abuse. At the close of the last administration, the excesses tanked the economy so we bailed out the banks and Wall Street. And the Obama administration has been way to cozy with them as well.

What did they do to return the favor? They gave and continue to give bonuses in the tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars to their failed execs; they continue to sit on capital; they refuse to lend to small and medium businesses (the real job creators) and they whine that people are hurting their wittle feelings when we dare to criticize them.

In their Randian delusions, they convince themselves that they are not in fact the biggest recipients of corporate welfare in history. They tell themselves that they are the producers and threaten to 'go Galt.' They don't contribute or produce anything tangible; they just shuffle pieces of paper around and convince others to buy in because there will always be another sucker to cover their debt. Talk about a Ponzi scheme.

But don't expect Rick Perry to call out his banker and Wall Street friends. This seems like it has a chance to be a real protest against the greed and corruption that has brought us to where we are today. And it doesn't even need Murdoch's media empire to gin it up.

jthartke wrote on October 05, 2011 at 11:10 am

I really have to object to the connotation that musicians contribute nothing to society. What is your favorite band, Ronny? If you don't like music, I'm sorry you are missing out on having a soul.

sharqi wrote on October 05, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Is it only people who wear suits and turn profits who contribute to society? You got to be kidding me. Who knows where he works or how he makes a living, or even if he is employed at all. You know, a lot of people who are protesting are doing so because they are unemployed. It's *hard* to find a job, especially one that is not soul sucking or that degrades health. Whether or not he makes a living from making music, he's contributing to society.

I'm excited to see the occupy movement in U-C. There are a whole lot of people who support the protest but are not able to attend. I am hopeful to make it to a protest soon. And to stick to the issues, I'm standing up and speaking out along with many other Americans, because we are not covered by the media. We aren't corporations who grease the wheels of politics and media to get our agenda asserted as the only way to go. I'm standing up because I have been wondering why the hippies didn't get the world changed when I was a kid, so we could have a more equitable society now. I've been wondering this my whole life. And now, I'm standing up because I have kids, and I want them to have a future. I want them to have opportunities to be housed and fed and raise families of their own. I don't care a crap about getting rich. But getting by--we all deserve a shot at that.

I'm speaking out because I'm tired of a political system that offers no real choices. Obama or what's his name? What's the difference? None that I can see. The rich continue to get richer, and the poor continue to get poorer. And the poor get blamed for it! What do they contribute to society? It's more than money. There's a non-money economy building, the economy of the community. It's based on abundance and sharing. It's not about living in the biggest house, but having wealth in the form of the security of knowing your neighbors and your friends have your back.

Anyway, thanks for organizing, and I hope to see you on the streets soon!

coltenjackson wrote on October 06, 2011 at 4:10 am

I'm glad you're on board - please check out http://occupy217.ucimc.org and share your thoughts and ideas there. It's being hosted at the Independent Media Center in Champaign Urbana, where we will start holding general assemblies this weekend and beyond that.

David Illinois wrote on October 05, 2011 at 1:10 pm

I hope that the three people who show up have a good time.

bluegrass wrote on October 05, 2011 at 2:10 pm

I am so excited about this movement I can hardly contain myself. I don't know what I'm going to enjoy more. I think what's going to be the best, is watching the same people who have spent the last year lying about and disparaging the Tea Party, defend against the same type of arguments used against them.

But a close second to that, will be enjoying all the different types of hats people will be wearing to these rallies. Can you imagine the opportunity these rallies create for hipsters in town to show off all their accessories? I'm talking all manner of hats: floppy hats, caps, stocking caps with the hangy down things on the sides, Gilligan hats, and fedoras. Oh, so many fedoras. They'll be scarves, gloves with the fingers cut out, vests, and more beard hair and Keen shoes than you can shake a stick at. I tell you right now, if you want a pair of low top Converse All-Stars, you better get em' while the getting is good because they'll be going fast. The sales generated from the shopping that will need to be done to look cool for these events will be a boon to the local economy. If I wasn't so anti-corporation I'd buy some stock in North Face right now. I'm fired up people. Lets get out there, hipster up, and show these corporations that we probably all work for and buy stuff from and utilize and depend upon for our food, shelter, clothing, entertainment, transportation, financial services, health care, and basic livelihoods, that we aren't gonna take it anymore. And we're not going to stop until ... Um. What was it again?

coltenjackson wrote on October 06, 2011 at 4:10 am

We have very solid reasons to organize and protest the actions of our government. If you're truly unsure of what's going on, the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City is available here: http://nycga.cc/2011/09/30/declaration-of-the-occupation-of-new-york-city/

Peruse the portrait essays here http://wearethe99percent.tumblr.com/ to see what people we are fighting for, and the kind of injustices that keep us going.

I ask of you humbly, don't be so flippant. These are people just the same as your neighbors and family members - many have faced hard times because of the gambling on wall street, and are standing up with people who see their plight in order to engage in a discussion - teach each other the roots of the problems and try to find a way out of it.

bluegrass wrote on October 06, 2011 at 11:10 am

I looked at the portrait essay, and I understand that you want to be taken seriously. Every single "fact" in that list starts out with "They," which makes that word the centerpiece of the essay. The problem is there is no definition of "They."

Does anyone involved in this movement understand how silly it is to just broadly say corporations suck? I tried to make the point with the hats, but I'll try again. Just take this website right here. Better yet, take one comment on this website. In order for you to make this comment, oil & metal corporations drilled & mined some raw material, and sold it to other corporations who made parts, who sold those parts to other corporations who built the computer you're working on. A shipping corporation moved it from China to the United States, where another shipping corporation got it from the port to your local store. That retail store (another corporation) rented a building from a property management corporation, who had it built by, wait for it, a construction corporation. Then you took your paycheck from a corporation, deposited it into a banking corporation, and went to that store and bought the computer. When you went into that store there were probably 100 different computers to choose from at varying price points, but you chose the one that was right for you. Then, once you got home you took the computer out of the packaging made by yet another corporation, plugged it in, and used whatever corporation built or maintains your internet connection to log on to this website, which is probably hosted by a a different corporation, to make your plea for people to go to the park and chant about how corporations are bad. Which one of those corporations, that all worked together so you could make your comment, place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality?

ronaldo wrote on October 07, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Don't anyone for un momento believe that this is about "our neighbors". Nothing could be farther from the truth. Right out of the Saul Alinsky playbook comes the theory that in order to conquer "the man", the extreme left needs to convince the middle class to demonize those who the left loathes and get them to join in demonizing them. Only then can their goals be achieved.

You will undoubtedly hear a LOT in the coming weeks about this being about "Joe Average Middleclass". Don't buy it for a minute.

Yatiri wrote on October 06, 2011 at 10:10 am

I like the way young people dress, it reminds me of my own youth.

Its their ideas I want to hear. I don't really care what they wear.

Holding the banksters accountable doesn't require any dress code blue.

I don't see OWS as anti tea party. I think the two should merge. We all know that change is needed. I would like to see the tea party and the OWS movement enter into a coversation to find common ground.

It is false that we are all so polarized, that is what the banksters and politicians want us to believe.

We have more in common than our differences. Let's not listen to the divisive voices any longer. Tea Party people and OWS ought to join forces for the common good.

asparagus wrote on October 05, 2011 at 5:10 pm


asparagus wrote on October 05, 2011 at 7:10 pm

Well, brothers and sisters.

I understand well your frustration. The real change we desired was only ever an illusion. The governmental system is fundamentally flawed. You cannot rely on government for your well being. It has been subverted by capitalist interests. You need to rely on locally strong and dedicated citizens that want to protect the public welfare first and foremost. You want LIBERTARIANISM.

coltenjackson wrote on October 06, 2011 at 4:10 am

I hope you can make it out to local General Assemblies as their organized to speak your message.

Check out http://occupy217.ucimc.org and keep an eye out for meetings.

Yatiri wrote on October 06, 2011 at 9:10 am

I would vote for Ron Paul, the most libertarian of the GOP candidates, but I doubt that they will give him a chance.

I remember when they held their debates and wouldn't invite him. Then as his popularity grew they began to include him a bit. The media always plays his chances down and is against him because of his foreign policy and economic views.

I don't see any Democrats that come close to Ron Paul on the wars and foreign policy.

But again, I doubt that the GOP, the bankers, the war industry, will allow Ron Paul to run.

Perhaps with this protest his chances will improve. I would actually go out and vote if Paul were the candidate.

John O'Connor wrote on October 06, 2011 at 11:10 am

Why are some, who say they are against bankster and Wall Street corruption, coming out so strongly against the occupy Wall Street movement? The 'tea party' may have, at least in part, started out in frustration at bailouts, but it was very quickly co opted by right wing Republicans, so much so that they now defend the crooks and mismanagers.

The 'tea party' was promoted endlessly by Fox and Rupert Murdoch's other outlets but now these same outlets are coming out against real grassroots protests against abusive and the corrupt bankers and Wall Street managers who ruined out economy but still see fit to give themselves huge salaries and bonuses as reward for their failure. Unfortunately, their knee jerk negative reaction to the OWS movement says a lot about their true colors.

Sid Saltfork wrote on October 06, 2011 at 4:10 pm

It always starts with the intellectuals; or those who consider themselves intellectuals. It moves to incorporate the workers including unionists. The combination of students, disenfranchised middle class, unemployed, working poor, poor, and disillusioned military members leads to a united anger against "those" who are considered the oppressors which are the corrupt, and rich. One incident, or series of incidents including comments like "Let them eat cake" leads to riots; and the intellectuals are swept away. Once it starts, it cannot be stopped. It has to wear itself out. All of the partisan political dialogues mean nothing when no hope leads to anger followed by sweeping change. Does the current, corrupt Congress have the good sense to work in a bipartisan manner to keep the Second American Revolution from happening?

Hard Reality wrote on October 07, 2011 at 12:10 am

I appreciate and support the earnest endeavors of any "Movement" against amoral money-mongers and a self-serving power elite who deepen the divide between the Haves and the Have-Nots. BUT I too wonder if OWS -- in its current overly broad focus and naive power-to-the-people hoopla -- can do much besides lend literalism to the old truth, "Money talks, BS walks!"

Like bluegrass, I too question: Who exactly are ALL these villainous "they's"? (copied below from Colten's link). We may think we know and despise the obvious evil corporations, war machines, Gordon Gekkos and corrupt politicos who kowtow to them all, but in our capitalist system, doesn't "Wall Street" trickle down to include "Main Street" and everyone who owns a single stock, pension fund, cd, house, car, computer or as Bluegrass suggests, ANYTHING? And how did our less-than-inspiring leaders get in that glorified position? Isn't it another case of "We have met the enemy... and he is us."?! If so, who do we fight first? Each other? Apparently so, as Yatiri and Colten -- and the whole absurd Dem vs Repub system -- highlight.

The rips in our social fabric are pernicious and pervasive. Granted, a first step in any march against social/economic injustice may be a stumbling one, but at least any serious "Occupation" or wake-up call to mend that social fabric is far better than either apathy or PRE-OCCUPATION with mindless matters and self-indulgent escapism that have cosseted
this country for decades. So will more people attend any C-U protest than, say, a weekend UI game or outings to our favorite trendy emporiums? Idealistically, I hope so. Realistically, I doubt it.

Nonetheless, good luck to "supporters of the cause" in first focusing more clearly on how the fabric, and our own moral fiber, can be strengthened. Clearly the powers that be are not going to do so.

And here's especially hoping that this latest outcry isn't hijacked and perverted by similar agents provocateurs who confused the issues and undermined the intent of both the original tea-party movement and the whole idealistic notion of "Hope and Change." Otherwise, we'll just see more despair and the same ol' same ol.'
From http://nycga.cc/2011/09/30/declaration-of-the-occupation-of-new-york-city/ :

Official Statement from Occupy Wall Street - this statement was voted on and approved by the general assembly of protesters at Liberty Square: Declaration of the Occupation of New York City

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that 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; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that 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. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.

They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.

They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.

They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.

They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.

They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.

They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.

They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.

They have sold our privacy as a commodity.

They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.

They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.

They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.

They have donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them.

They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.

They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantive profit.

They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.

They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.

They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.

They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.

They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.

They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.*

To the people of the world,
We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

*These grievances are not all-inclusive.

Sid Saltfork wrote on October 07, 2011 at 11:10 am

It appears that the "powers that be" are "they". The BBC covered the demonstrations well over a week before the national media covered it. The European view was surprise with comments of how peaceful the demonstrations were compared to the current European demonstrations regarding the same issues. Social movements need an antagonist, and a proclamation. If this movement grows, leaders from the various groups that make up the movement will emerge in the media. Some will appear radical while others appear moderate. The economic situation at the time will dictate which leaders appeal to the citizens. The more that Congress is divided, and partisan will increase the radical view. A compromise on spending cuts, and revenue raising will increase the moderate view. Once the movement passes from political party preferences to shared economic pain; it will lose respect for the rule of law. If things do not improve in D.C. by next July; more aggressive demonstrations will occur. Each citizen will view their current economic situation; and decide who to support. Why do people think that the Arab Spring, and European violent demonstrations will not happen here? The issues are the same, or similar. Hopefully, Congress will come to their collective sense before that time.

John O'Connor wrote on October 14, 2011 at 3:10 pm

'Tea party' Republicans and their allies, both locally and nationally, have been trashing the OWS demonstrators. For some reason, they like it when right wing Republican 'tea partiers' demonstrate, but when others exercise that same right, the 'tea partiers' call them dirty freaking hippies who are on drugs and who supposedly, so the 'tea partiers' allege, leave copious amounts of trash behind.

The memes of dirty, drug using hippies leaving trash on the streets is of course absurd, but it appears to be all the reactionaries have. They are actually left with nothing but sputtering hypocritical attacks on demonstrators who have the gall to not be gun toting right wingers who call Obama Hitler.

The reason for the double standard, it seems, is that the 'tea partiers' understand how unpopular they've become. They may have ostensibly started in protest of Wall Street excess, but they very quickly squandered support when they were willingly coopted by the extreme right of the Republican party.

Here's a link to a poll showing just how popular OWS is compared to the 'tea party.'

The new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows that Americans support the Occupy Wall Street protests by a two-to-one margin (37 percent in favor, 18 percent opposed) while more Americans view the Tea Party negatively (28 percent in favor, 41 percent opposed). This means the Occupy Wall Street protests have a net favorability of +19 percent while the Tea Party has a net favorability of -13 percent, as this chart produced by ThinkProgress shows.

A new Time Magazine poll found an even more positive results for Occupy Wall Street, showing 54 percent held a favorable view of the movement, compared to just 27 percent with a favorable view of the Tea Party. In the Time poll, just 23 percent had an unfavorable view of Occupy Wall street, for a net rating of +31 percent. Meanwhile, 33 percent had an unfavorable view of the Tea Party, giving it a a net rating of -6 percent.