Morning Sun
  • Protesters participate in Occupy Pittsburg

  • The Occupy Wall Street movement that has taken root in metropolises across the United States has landed in Pittsburg.

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  • The Occupy Wall Street movement that has taken root in metropolises across the United States has landed in Pittsburg.
    On Friday night 20 to 25 Pittsburg residents gathered to show their solidarity with OWS protesters around the country. They gathered on the Oval at Pittsburg State University at 3:30 p.m. and marched to the sidewalk in front of Bank of America in downtown Pittsburg. For about an hour they held signs with slogans such as “Fairness is the issue,” “Swindle No More” and “Need before greed” as drivers passed, waving and honking their horns in support.
    The lone vocal objector to the demonstration was a woman in a gold-tone Cadillac who shook her head in disgust as she passed the first time, then screamed “Go home and take care of your families!” as she drove by going the opposite direction.
    Wynn Shepard, 22, a marketing, communications graphics and graphics management major from Independence, is the main organizer of the group. Ironically, Shepard said, the woman’s statement is exactly what the protesters seek to do.
    “The majority of people here do have jobs,” Shepard said. “We just want to help our fellow man.”
    Shepard said sentiment such as that of the Cadillac driver are easy to understand. Some protesters have been arrested, and it’s easy to think of the movement in that light. The driver of the Cadillac simply wants to protect what she has, but those opinions don’t make sense from other people.
    “Most of the people who are riled up about it are fighting against their own interests,” Shepard said.
    The protesters are not socialists and hippies, Shepard said, and the group is purposefully apolitical in an effort not to dissuade anyone from joining. Indeed, he said, each of the members are pro-capitalist but want strong government regulation to keep corporate greed in check.
    “We want the opportunity to succeed, and that’s why we’re here,” said Shepard who has dreams of one day opening his own marketing and consulting business and said he has conservative views on many issues. “You have to have regulation to inspire confidence.”
    Shepard said approved the Dodd-Frank law, which imposed stronger regulations on banks, but which was gutted to ineffectiveness by lobbyists. The law, he said, could have kept banks from packaging and selling derivatives, which eventually caused the financial crisis.
    “They thought they could still make money down the line even though they knew someone was going to get hurt,” Shepard said. “The Dodd-Frank law could have helped as soon as it was passed. Now we’re in the same spot we were before the collapse.”
    The goal of the protests, he said, is to get people talking about why the economy is so bad, who is really at fault and what is perpetuating what economists are starting to call a depression.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We’re not policy makers or economists or experts,” Shepard said. “But we want to get the word out that this is a problem and it’s acceptable to talk about it. Basically, we’re trying to get involved on a community level and affect change from the ground up.”
    Zach Drumeller, 24, is a senior in justice studies at Pitt State. Government has largely been taken over by lobbyists and greed, he said.
    “I’d like to be back in a democracy where one person gets one vote and it actually means something, not a million dollars equals a million votes,” he said.
    Marcia Weeks is a retired nurse and said she has been a longtime advocate for the disabled and otherwise disenfranchised. She supports the Occupy Wall Street protests because government is slashing budgets for social programs and pensions to make up for the greed of Wall Street bankers.
    “I find it appalling how government regulations have been rolled back,” Weeks said. “One in three children are impoverished, and that should never happen. Deregulation has allowed corporations and banks to take advantage of everyone else, and the next generation isn’t going to have anything. Somebody’s got to stand up for the working people.”

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