In a time of economic upheaval, the Occupy Wall Street movement has created national and international buzz that has become hard to ignore.
The movement is described as a “leaderless” movement by its organizers and participants. Even the OccupyWallSt.org website is labeled as “unofficial.” The website states the people involved with the movement have horizontally structured themselves. Basically this means everyone is a leader and organizer. As such they all have the same responsibilities and – most importantly – no one person is above another.
In recent weeks the movement has gained incredible momentum and taken root in many cities across the United States. The demonstrations have breathed new life into the debates over multiple issues, but largely focus on wealth inequality and corporate influence over government. Occupy Wall Street is a grassroots movement but it is clearly a potent one.
In fact, the occupy movement has become so strong that it has landed in our backyard: Dayton.
Like the Wall Street movement, Occupy Dayton emphasizes that they are a non-violent protest movement welcoming people from all walks of life to join with them. It’s even become something of a community that gathers and distributes supplies like blankets or food for fellow “Occupiers” within the crowd. They accept supplies like these as donations. Occupy Dayton also holds general assembly meetings to make decisions democratically where every protester who attends votes and has a say in decisions.
“Everyone that is a part of the movement is behind it,” said Shawn Cassiman, an organizer of the Occupy Dayton movement. “People are volunteering their skills and expertise in order to build the movement.”
Fellow organizer Christina Hull pointed out local issues that helped to spark the Dayton movement. “Dayton has been hit hard by corporations such as NCR, Mead, and GM leaving with our jobs and leaving a lot of Daytonians without an income or health insurance,” she said.
“We do not have millions of dollars to buy lobbyists to make sure our agenda’s are pushed or our voices heard,” said Hull. “This is the people’s movement. We all stand together as the 99% of American’s who want their voices heard.” She and Cassiman stated the Dayton group is not funded or run by any particular outside organization or political party. The support they receive comes from within their ranks.
Occupy Dayton held its first civil protest on the October 5th in Courthouse Square. Since then, the localized movement has begun to grow and has reached over 1,600 followers to date on its Facebook page. The organizers are moving quickly to utilize social media in the same manner as the overall Occupy movement.
Taking inspiration from the Arab Spring, “Occupiers” are tweeting, Facebooking, Flikring, tumblring, texting, and emailing their way into the forefront of the public’s awareness. This is no exception for our own Occupy Dayton movement. The Facebook group has successfully arranged and held three official gatherings with plans for three more listed for this week. Currently, they are working on setting up a blog and a permanent website to help their exposure and information accessibility.
“We believe that Dayton is a great city with wonderful people and we want to bring awareness to them about corporate greed and it’s hand in our legislation,” said Hull. “This is America, the richest country in the world and our citizens are struggling for their lives on a daily basis.”
“This movement is for the long haul. It has to be. We haven’t even been around for a week, so we have some work to do,” said Cassiman. “Real change takes time, and can be messy.”