Occupy Boulder is shaping up to be a movement as diverse in age as it has been in message. This Saturday’s rally saw infants in arms with signs clamped to their fingers, and seniors, all of them to say, basically, the status quo isn’t working out.
“I think all American are people concerned about the stalemate and the broken government and we think the protests will shake up our representatives in Congress,” says Zetta Feder, an 84-year-old resident at the Academy, a local boutique retirement community. She came to the 11 a.m. rally with a group of fellow residents from the Academy, including 86-year-old Shirley Marotta, who, despite having recently broken her arm, attended to carry a sign that read “WPA worked.”
“The point is that we’re willing to pay the taxes or the surtax,” Feder says. “We’re willing to invest, we’re willing to pay more in taxes for investments in infrastructure and jobs.”
Protestors gathered at 11 a.m., following a 9 a.m. general assembly meeting, at the corner of Broadway and Canyon to tote signs and wave at the passing cars, earning honked horns, waving and the occasional shout of support from passers-by.
“I have been waiting for this for years,” says Sierra Samuel, who was positioned at the front of the crowd at the southwest corner of the intersection and chanting with the crowd, “Corporate greed has got to go.”
“There are many, many issues at stake here,” she says. Samuel, 34, a legal receptionist and a single mother of two, says paying half her monthly wages in childcare, which leaves her scrambling to cover the rest of her bills, is a sign of a system in which inflation has increased faster than wages. “We’re getting screwed royally.”
Cliff Smedley organized this week’s event. Smedley was inspired by the Occupy Denver movement, he says, and by Michael Moore’s appearance at Occupy Wall Street.
“We’ve been a silent majority and we need to be a vocal majority,” says Smedley, 50, a system analyst. The movement is starting to get into the nuts and bolts, he says, putting together committees and assembling demands for Congress. State representative Deb Gardner and Rep. Jared Polis were both said to have attended the event.
“I’m out here because I feel like it’s very important our government isn’t run by corporations. That’s my biggest beef,” says Frederica Acora, 55, who held up the other end of the “Occupy Boulder” banner with Smedley during part of the rally. “I feel like you can’t get anything done for the people.”
“Basically, I feel that the American political system is essentially a hypocrisy in which the top 1 percent makes the decisions and everyone else takes the risks and suffers for their decisions,” says Sunjay Mohan, 18, while stenciling his sign for this rally — his first. “I’d like to see the system democratized so the people on Wall Street pay for their mistakes and not us.”
While ringing bells, beating drums, and chanting slogans including “The people, united, will never be divided” and “Show me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like,” an estimated 150 and 220 attendees marched up Canyon before looping back toward Broadway via the Pearl Street Mall.
By 12:30, most of the marchers had returned to the park at Broadway and Canyon.
“I feel like it’s a movement that can’t be ignored,” says Ilan Sherman, 36, who attended the rally after the march with his wife, Elicia Arwen, his step-daughter, Aster Arwen, 11, and his children, Razi, 4, and Zami, 6 months.
“My daughter wanted to come. She wouldn’t stay home,” Sherman says of Aster. “She’s looking at her future, too.”
Her biological father is in New York City and has attended and organized food donations for Occupy Wall Street.
“He started calling me up and telling me about it, so I kind of wanted to get into an Occupy Boulder movement, and then it started,” Aster says. She’s into politics, she says, and read about the movement online. “For me, I want to be able to go to college and get a good job when I get out, and be able to pay for college. I guess I also really want everyone’s future … not have to pay a bunch of taxes that are higher than all those corporations out there.”
“It’s time we woke up. We’ve been asleep and they stole all our resources, everything we worked all our lives for,” says Carol Schneider, Ph.D., 73, a clinical psychologist specializing in brain injuries and PTSD. She’s reached a point in her life when she expected that she would be volunteering, not working full time.
“This is the first very first time in my life I’ve been on the streets,” she says. “I’ll still be doing this as long as it’s going on.”
“I’m not leaving the streets until change is here,” says Holly Bender, 56. “I’m just really glad to see all the issues coming together … because we don’t have enough power when we’re all fragmented.”
The rallies will continue every Saturday at 11 a.m., she says.
“We want everybody to join,” she says. “Everybody belongs here.”
“Our nations right now is at a crossroads and if people don’t stand up right now, it’s going to be too late, if it isn’t already,” he says. “The only way people can overcome money is in numbers, mass numbers.”“Power has time. They can just wait for the movement to die out,” he says. “But I can’t see how our nation can survive if we don’t stand up right now.”