Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

October 8, 2011

Group hopes to ‘occupy’ Ashland

ASHLAND — Some Ashland residents are hoping to bring a national movement to the local level.

They are taking the example of protesters of the Occupy Wall Street movement, who have been protesting in New York City for about three weeks, and hoping to start a similar occupation in Ashland.

The group Occupy Ashland KY will host a general assembly for those interesting in joining in an occupation. The general assembly will take place on Monday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. near the gazebo at Central Park.

As of Friday afternoon, 31 people said they were attending the event on Facebook.

Members of the group said they hope to begin an occupation in Ashland on Oct. 15 to coincide with demonstrations planned in many cities worldwide in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

However, they will be seeking input from the public on where and when such and event should take place during the general assembly.

They refer to themselves and those they represent as “The 99 Percent” in contrast to the 1 percent of the U. S. population who own about 40 percent of the nation’s wealth.

Trinity Hurst, a member of the Occupy Ashland KY group, said the goal of the movement is to both show solidarity with those gathered on Wall Street and to make people more aware of problems in society, including banking cartels, big companies that control things such as the food and pharmaceutical industries and the media.

“It’s time to wake people up,” he said. “It’s time to shock people a little bit. It’s time to bring forth a little bit of the reality that the majority of us refuse to see because we’re too busy watching ‘Glee,’ too busy tuning in on ‘American Idol,’ waiting for the new iPhone to come out.”

Hurst said he knows people who are participating in the occupation in New York City, and he thinks there’s confusion over the purpose behind their actions.

“Those people are not protesting Wall Street, they’re protesting the Federal Reserve’s control of the U.S. economy,” he said.

Aaron Justice, another member of the group, said it’s important to him that the specific goals behind the movement remain vague so that they won’t be co-opted by politicians merely for political gain the way conservative politicians tried to appeal to those behind the Tea Party movement.

“Not knowing why we’re out in the street is what scares them the most,” he said.

Members of the group say they expect to see big results from the movement, starting at the local level and spreading nationally and internationally.

“I hope the machine breaks,” Hurst said. “I hope it brings everything in what is considered normal society to a standstill.”

Justice said he wants to see career politicians removed from office and the conflicts of interest between Wall Street and politicians ended.

Hurst said there’s a connection between the Occupy Wall Street occupations and protests during the Arab Spring.

“Those people want the same thing we want,” he said. “They want their liberty.”

Jeremy Ferguson said the general assembly will be non-violent as well as non-partisan and open to all who would like to come and share their ideas.

Marjorie Baker-Stevens agreed that the movement isn’t about left wing or right wing distinctions.

“I personally feel this is more of a cultural movement than a political movement,” Baker-Stevens said.

For more information, see the group’s Facebook page by searching for Occupy Ashland KY.

KATIE BRANDENBURG can be reached at kbrandenburg@dailyindependent.

com or (606) 326-2653.

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