Students 'Occupy Chicago'
Sam Abrahamson stood in front of the Federal Reserve Bank on Sept. 28 holding a sign that read, "The banks robbed us blind."
Abrahamson, a senior majoring in advertising, is one of several students to join Occupy Chicago, a movement in solidarity with the protest in New York, dubbed "Occupy Wall Street."
While several DePaul students were involved, many were unaware of each other's involvement.
"It is all very individually based," John Anderson, a senior and peace studies and social justice major, said while passing out fliers in the SAC. "The whole movement has no centralized organization to it, there is no centralized leadership or recruitment efforts."
DePaul students have increasingly joined the around-the-clock protest, which began on Sept. 24. In less than one week, the number of DePaul students involved jumped from less than three to more than 15. On Saturday, more than 175 people attended Chicago's protest, Anderson said.
Max Farrar, a senior, protested around his school schedule as well as during the "graveyard shift," he said. Farrar said Chicago police have been "surprisingly supportive."
"All of these people have come together despite various issues that they care about," Farrar said. "They recognize that what they care about can better be addressed if we first address the crisis of American democracy and the crisis of big money in the American government."
"We are sick of the corporate influence that is going on in our political system," Abrahamson said. "We are sick of the corporate influence that is going on in our political system. We are sick of the fact that money from private interests are drowning out the voice of the average everyday citizen," he said. "The middle class has no voice anymore."
"That's not how democracy works. Our founding fathers said that all men are created equal … and women," Abrahamson said. "We're not supposed to be made unequal based on how much money you have. If you have a lot of money, you can buy ad space. You can buy politicians, which is what is happening," he said. "If you do have a lot of money then you get to set the entire agenda."
Anderson said that when he handed out fliers on DePaul's Lincoln Park campus, "there was definitely a general interest." Anderson said many people asked questions about who was organizing Occupy Chicago and what Anonymous is.
The Occupy Wall Street movement spread to more than 48 U.S. cities and to London and Germany after it began in New York.
Abrahamson said he hopes the protests will spread more awareness.
"We want people to know that they are not alone in thinking that something is terribly, terribly wrong in our political system," Abrahamson said. "Once we raise enough awareness if this spreads enough, maybe we can have a real political conversation, one that they can't ignore."
Andrew Mongenas, an Occupy Chicago participant, described the movement as "the seed that needs to get planted in order to make some sort of change."
"It's basically about stopping corporations from abusing the political system," he said.
Mongenas said he sympathizes with those who don't have the means to organize in this manner, but share the group's beliefs.
"There are so many people out there who feel the same way we do," he said. "There are people who can't get here and do this."
"I'm not a particularly political person," he said. "I'm more just an angry pedestrian. It's about time this happened."
Emilio Baez, who is also involved in the movement, said he feels a sense of duty.
"What is happening now is truly historic," Baez said. "We are in an economic crisis; the capitalist system is breaking down. It is vitally necessary to lead by example."
He said he also believes the economy needs to be altered in a way that is beneficial Americans socially and emotionally as well as logistically.
For the most part, Occupy Chicago has been received well on the streets, protestors say. Baez mentioned taxi drivers and citizens driving by and honking in support. However, they say their relationship with the Chicago police has been up and down.
"The cops have been friendly," he said. "But when push comes to shove, they're going to do their jobs."
Baez said the group marched to Millennium Park on Sept. 27, and officers tried to throw them out. Additionally, they prohibited the protesters from setting up tents outside the bank.
"They have perpetually lied to us," Baez said.
Despite the friction, Occupy Chicago isn't going anywhere anytime soon. According to Mongenas, nothing is definitive, and they won't stop pursuing the issue "until there's notice taken."
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