By Michael Isam | firstname.lastname@example.org
A meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 18, at the Plaza de la Constitucion was abuzz with frenzied activity, in which organizers decided that Occupy St. Augustine will obtain a city permit for the Nov. 5 event.
The city permit costs $25 and will give the parties involved with the movement access to use the Gazebo and play music during the event.
Occupy St. Augustine is a peaceful march supporting protests around the world against economic injustices. In the U.S., protests began on Sept. 17 by a group of protesters in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District. The movement came to be known as Occupy Wall Street and inspired similar protests in more than 100 cities throughout the U.S., as well as the world.
Unlike most movements, Occupy St. Augustine does not have one specific leader who will be organizing the event.
“I know it frustrates folks in the media as this movement has very little form or shape compared to the norm,” said Aubrey Skillman, one of the organizers. “No apology; this is just the way it is.”
According to Skillman, people who attended Tuesday’s meeting showed up for different reasons. “And they are all valid,” he said. “This goes well beyond the norm as all facets of life for the 99 percent are affected by the actions of the 1 percent.”
According to the Occupy Wall Street website, it is a “people-powered movement, which is fighting back against the corrosive power major banks and unaccountable multinational corporations wield against democracy, and the role of Wall Street in creating the economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in nearly a century. The movement is inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and around the world, and aims to expose how the richest 1 percent of people are writing the rules of a dangerous neoliberal economic agenda that is stealing our future.”
Even if protestors blame the 1 percent for economic disparity, staunch Republican Brian Woodland of South Ponte Vedra, who works at a cigar shop on St. George Street, believes that the 1 percent is not to blame.
“The banks took advantage of the 99 percent’s greed. They [99 percent] wanted to be the 1 percent, and thought the bubble would just keep expanding. They [99 percent] set themselves up,” he said. “Instead of blaming the 1 percent, the 99 percent should go to Congress for the passing of new laws to keep this from happening again.”
Woodland says that in order for protesters to be heard, they need to march peacefully. Even if Woodland will not participate in the Nov. 5 event, he is not against the event from happening.
“That’s one of the great things about living in the United States,” he said. “That’s their right if they want to go out there and be the 99 percent and have their voices heard. They can do that.”
Even if most protesters seek to march peacefully, police forces have intervened in many protests.
Woodland’s only concern about the Nov. 5 event is the degree to which protests could interfere with residents’ everyday responsibilities.
“When you start imposing your thoughts on people to the point they can’t get to work or get out of the neighborhood, because you’re blocking it because you want to be heard, that’s where we start having problems,” he said.