Occupy Ashland: Rise of the 99%

The Ashland Plaza was filled with about 200 peaceful protesters this weekend during Occupy Ashland, a reaction to Occupy Wall Street, a nation-wide protest that started September 17 in New York City in an effort to raise awareness about corporate greed and the country’s deepening economic woes.

A major theme of Occupy Ashland was that the top one percent of the American population are pitting the bottom 99 percent against each other, and while protesters admitted that the demonstrations may not change the way the top one percent work, it will raise awareness that there are people working to fix what seems to be a screwed-up system.

Bundled up against the cold, the protesters sang and shared food while discussing current events and how they could be fixed. The economy and the voting system were hot topics among the crowd.

“We’re showing solidarity with what’s going on in an attempt to re-inspire endemic thinking,” said Emery Way, one of the Occupy Ashland organizers.

“The one percent can never stand up to the 99 percent,” he added. “We can make it possible.”

“We need to recapture faith in ourselves,” Catie Faryl said, explaining a goal she has tried to portray through her art.

Faryl was one of the many people to host the event, and organized an art show that touched on many topics, including feminism and women’s rights, as well as empowering the individual.

“We need to educate the voter … to understand that we are the government,” she said. “People can always make a difference.”

Many of the protesters believed that these demonstrations will attract the attention of the lower 99 percent, and encourage them to rise up against the wealthy.

Several protesters accused the one percent of creating a society built on consumerism to hide what happens behind the scenes. Others however, like Jensen Voorhees from Missouri, believe that the people should not be pointing fingers at anyone but themselves.

“It’s still greed,” she said. “But we have to believe things will change.”

Sue Crader, an Ashland resident, was worried about the increasing disparity between rich and poor, but believes good can come from gatherings like Occupy Ashland.

“Protests can help change individuals,” she said. “It helps people realize we can come together.”

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