Occupy Ashland protests continue as supporters rally in Medford

About 50 members of Occupy Ashland marched to Medford on Saturday, Oct. 15, hoping to gain more supporters with a renewed focus on their goals.

Occupy Ashland is a protest that started Oct. 6, in Ashland’s downtown Plaza in response to the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, a nation-wide protest that started on Sept. 17 in New York City in an effort to raise awareness about corporate greed.

People from all different walks of life marched along Highway 99 to join protesters gathering in Medford’s Alba Park on Saturday morning.

Protesters took turns sharing ideas on how to change the economy and relishing in their success with the growing movement.

“We’re snowballing,” said Emery Way, a former Southern Oregon University student and one of the Occupy Ashland organizers. “It’s a trickle up effect.”

Although many students are actively protesting, Way hopes more students will begin to participate in the future and take an interest in what’s going on around them.

“It’s us who have the most at stake,” Way said. “We need to create our own world.”

Way says there are plans in the works to have a music night in the Ashland Plaza and possibly further down the line taking Occupy Ashland to strengthen their numbers to Salem.

As the movement ages, even the protesters are noticing the slight changes.

“I’ve seen not just the same people there every day, but new people, people who might stay for a couple days and help out,” said Evan Lasley, one of the protest organizers. “There are some disagreements, and there are some people on the farther right who are of the opinion that equality can’t get people what they want. But everybody is willing to talk about things.”

“We are much better organized, said Sheila Walker, 48, an Ashland resident. “We’re gaining more of a direction.”

Raven Playfaire, an active Occupy Ashland protester, was moved by the amount of young people showing initiative in the movement of their future.

“It totally thrills my heart to see this happening,” she said.

Despite their recent successes, Lasley confessed that the movement is conflicted about how to proceed next.

“At this point, it’s going to be canvassing and reaching out to students,” he said. “Long term, I think it’s a matter of establishing some agreed-upon principles in the Occupy movement.”

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