Protests have been taking place since October 15 at the South Side of the Capitol Building in Raleigh, North Carolina. These protests have been accordingly titled “Occupy Raleigh.”
Inspired by the Occupy Wall street campaign, Occupy Raleigh is described as “a group of concerned citizens who wish to raise awareness and demonstrate before the Capitol in support of economic justice and against corporate influence over our elections and political process.”
The Occupy Raleigh movement makes progress at daily general assemblies at 6:30 p.m. As the person speaks, the crowd repeats in order to make sure that everyone can hear it, since there are no megaphones allowed.
Joshua Harris, another protester from Occupy Raleigh, was one of the few Occupiers who agreed to be interviewed.
“I’ve been involved since 3 Saturdays ago,” said Harris. “We’ve been making a lot of progress, getting a lot of attention, and we have strong support from the community.”
Unfortunately, Occupy Raleigh does not have much support from Congress. “We’ve been effective at getting them to consider us, at angering them perhaps, or getting them to recognize a politically salient [prominent] issue that scares everybody else,” said Harris. “But we haven’t been good at getting action. In fact, we’ve gotten a lot of lip service [from Congress] so far.”
Harris also discussed being arrested by the Raleigh Police Department. “[The police] asked us to disperse around dusk. [Out of 200], there were about 70 or so [people still on the grounds] when they made the final request [to disperse]. When they threatened arrest, about 50 people moved over to the sidewalk and occupied from there. The 20 or so people that were still on the grounds all linked arms and sat in a circle. I was afraid we were going to get hurt [by the police],” said Harris.
“We are the 99%” is the famous slogan that Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Raleigh adopted. This concept started out as a blog, with testimonials of unemployed and bankrupt people. The 99% message is from Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel prize-winning economist. He determined that the wealthiest 1% of the citizens in the US control 40% of the wealth in the country.
When asked if he agreed with the reason why they were protesting, Hoese said yes. “My reasons for being there were more based around how this country has become almost a subtle autocracy [due to] the extremely uneven playing field the big businesses have to work with, and their influence in our government. I felt so empowered and joyful that I was actually taking part in something I believed in; that I was acting.”
Hoese is one of the few people from Leesville that care about Occupy Raleigh.
Ellen Farkas, a junior at Leesville, believes that the protests do not affect her. “I feel like I’m not justified to have an opinion. It’s not affecting me in any way: I don’t have any stocks, and it’s not inhibiting me or helping me at all.”
This is a big misconception. Occupy Raleigh has been fighting to restore the power of the people and to not allow big businesses to sway or control the people in America’s government, especially Congress, to act for corporations’ benefit or turn a blind eye to their misdeeds.
Andrew Byrum, senior, discussed his personal reasons for going. “Last year my friends and I started a group called Caring for Congo to bring attention to how children are being enslaved in mines in Congo. For me, it’s a good example of how greed has come to the extent that corporations put profit over people.”
People interested in following the movement can go to www.occupyraleigh.org and read news about the protests. The website includes information about the movement, and pictures and video from the demonstrations.