Arkansans Occupy to Unite and Find Solutions
The occupy Wall Street movement has made its way to Northwest Arkansas and the UA. Pots, pans and drums came together in rhythm with chants of dissent in the early afternoon Saturday Oct. 15, for a organized protest and march on Dickson St. from the town square to Old Main lawn.
Those in attendance estimated more than 300 protesters gathered at the square as organizers gave directions for the march and conduct. They also shared reasons for uniting and mobilizing as well as chant lyrics. By the time things settled down on Old Main their numbers dwindled to less than 100.
“Do not encourage the opposition,” said Andi-K, organizer of the march, into a megaphone. “We are not here to just talk about problems, we want to think of solutions.”
After all understood the directions of the march protesters made their way to the courthouse. Cars drove down College Ave. giving approval or criticism with their horns or one word shouts of “Socialist” or “Commies”. But the protesters shouted back with “We are the 99 percent ” and “This is what democracy looks like!”
“I think what we are doing is part of a movement that is nation wide,” said Walter Hinojosa of the Workers Justice Center. “What we have today is hundreds of folks speaking out to say it is time to end the grip corporations have on our government.” The Northwest Arkansas Workers’ Justice Center is a non-profit organization that assists low wage workers.
“I am only one voice of this movement,” said Bobby Melton, one of the event organizers. “We are all leaders, we all have a voice, we all want to be heard and our voices have been overshadowed by money. I spend all my money on taking care of my family so I don’t have a voice in this democracy. We want our voice back in politics.”
Melton marched at the front with a sign that red “If you don’t know what is going on turn off the news and into the movement.” Melton said he felt that the media reported on the movement negatively because of orders from corporate sponsors, several organizers claim to share that belief.
The registered student organization(RSO) Occupy UA had there first meeting two nights ago said David Bruce, full time staff at UA and staff adviser for the occupy RSO.
“You have to have six students to start an RSO and we have had a dozen that are interested,” Bruce said. “We had our first meeting two night ago where we elected officers, ratified our constitution and we have got to get the paper work turned in after the fall break and we will be good to go.”
The RSO’s goals are to raise awareness of the occupy colleges movement and the occupy together movement, as well as how the country’s economic and political situations effect students, Bruce said.
“In order to officially become an RSO there are a couple things that are required before we can get funding and be recognized,” said Nicholas Riggins, acting president of the unofficial RSO occupy UA.” I am required to go to a leadership meeting and our treasurer will have to take a treasurer course.”
The occupy UA group is scheduled to receive funding at the end of this month, if they complete their training in time they will be officially recognized as an RSO, Riggins said.
“Any time we have a meeting any student that shows up is then a member, it is a general assembly,” said Riggins.” We have to keep in mind that we all represent the general assemble and at that point we are no longer acting as individuals, because we do not promote any sort of illegal activity or hatred what so ever. We have to present solutions in a manner that our community and our university will understand, appreciate and respect.”
Separately from the RSO the Occupy Northwest Arkansas movement started as a group on face book created by one person, Andi-K.
“We are going to find out what are solutions are and then take those solutions to the other occupy movements in Arkansas and create a direct plan of action.” Andi-K said.”We have about six other groups in Arkansas that have stood up. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org you can also get with us on Occupy NWA the face book group.”