Chesterton Tribune

Occupy Chesterton rallies in Thomas Centennial Park

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By KEVIN NEVERS

The Occupy movement has come to Duneland and organizers say that it’s here to stay.

At noon on Saturday, a group of around 30 people met at the bandstand at Thomas Centennial Park to protest corporate greed, in the first of what organizers Vince Emanuele Jr. and Laura Madigan told the Chesterton Tribune will be a regular Saturday event.

The occupiers were orderly, peaceful, and quiet, but mad as hell anyway. “We’re the 99 percent, is who we are,” said Madigan, wearing a tee-shirt with the legend Corporations are not people. “We’re the 99 percent who’ve received a disproportionate share of what we’ve all worked for.”

Occupiers at Saturday’s initial protest—the movement began on Wall Street and has since spread to cities across the country and in Europe and Asia—largely took the opportunity to introduce themselves and explain their reasons for being there.

Janusz Duzinkiewicz, an associate professor of history at Purdue North Central University, said that until the Occupy movement took hold in New York, recent political activism had chiefly been a “right-wing” phenomenon. “It’s as though it’s unpatriotic to criticize America,” he said.

“One of the most dangerous beliefs in the illusion of the American Dream,” Duzinkiewicz added. “It keeps people from seeing injustice.”

Ken Kincaid, also an associate professor of history at PNC, said that U.S. military intervention overseas had clouded the real issue of the domestic economy and budget.

Mark Strudas of Chesterton similarly noted that the $65 billion spent every six months on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could “feed everyone in the U.S. on food stamps for a year.”

“I’m worried about the decline in union membership,” Mike Madigan said for his part. “We’re about the only ones trying to keep up with inflation and we’re really not. We need to get the minimum wage increased and more folks in the unions.”

Also speaking on Saturday: a “disillusioned” conservative and Republican; several public school teachers concerned about the “ridiculous” teaching load and lack of support from the state; and a recent college graduate thrown into the sputtering economy and finding it “really hard.”

A United Steelworkers members said that he was occupying Chesterton to protest “the perversion of corporate America.”

“We’re getting screwed economically,” a woman said. “Corporations need to give back to the community.”

Emanuele urged everyone in attendance to return at 12 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, but also to realize that protests in and of themselves aren’t enough. “Don’t just come and go home,” he said. “Talk about it. Rallies aren’t going to solve the problem but they’re important. There’s more work to be done after the rally is over. We’re going to have discussions and teach-ins.”

For information visit “Occupy Chesterton!” on Facebook.com and OccupyTogether.org

From the Occupy Wall Street mission statement

Excerpts from the mission statement released by Occupy Wall Street:

“We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies. . . .

“They have taken our houses through illegal foreclosures processes, despite not having the original mortgage.

“They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give executives exorbitant bonuses.

“They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

“They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization. . . .

“They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.

“They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.

“They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay. . . .

“They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts with regards to health insurance.

“They have sold our privacy as a commodity. . . .

“They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.

“They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.

“They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts. . . .

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face; and generate solutions accessible to everyone.”

 

Posted 10/17/2011