Locals protest at ‘Occupy C-U’ movement

_Editor’s note: The original version of this article spelled Occupy Champaign-Urbana Spokesman Josh Hartke’s name “Josh Hartley”. This version has been corrected. The Daily Illini regrets the error._

Chanting phrases such as “Banks got bailed out! We got sold out!” and “Money for jobs and education! Not to bail out corporations!”, Occupy Champaign-Urbana protestors marched Saturday from the WEFT 90.1 radio station, 113 N. Market St., to the Westside Park bandstand, where there was a demonstration with local speakers.

“This national movement was kicked off in New York with the Wall Street protesters. Then it went to Washington, then Chicago, Los Angeles, then it spread to 1,200 cities. This is one of those 1,200,” said Gene Vanderport, a speaker at the event.

There were an estimated 350 people at the demonstration, coming from many walks of life.

“There are a lot of people who have issues here— we have Iraq veterans who are against the war, we have union members who are worried about jobs, benefits, and whether their kids can go to college. We have people from the gay and lesbian community,” said Josh Hartke, spokesman for Occupy Champaign-Urbana. “There’s a lot of people here from diverse areas and when you distill it down, I think we’re just tired of not being heard by our government.”

Many of the signs at the protest read the simple statement, “We are the 99 percent,” referring to what some protestors believe is the percentage of people not controlling the nation’s wealth.

“Any economic chart you look at shows income inequality in the U.S. The poor are getting poorer, the rich are getting richer and the rich are getting fewer. And my question is, conservative or liberal, is this what you want? It’s certainly not what I want,” said David Amerson, former Marine, graduate student and one of the speakers at the rally.

Hartke said the movement has gone global in ways due to social networking playing a large role in the organization of these protests.

“Honestly, most of our word has gotten out on Facebook and social media because that’s where democracy is happening right now around the world. If you look at the Arab spring and now maybe the American autumn, it’s all people communicating through YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. That’s how we got 350 people here today, from all over the community,” Hartke said.