Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

October 10, 2011

Occupy event attracts about 75

ASHLAND — The inaugural meeting of a group seeking to organize an occupation in Ashland drew about 75 on Monday.

Occupy Ashland KY hosted its general assembly at the Central Park bandstand to begin mapping future plans.

The local organization is part of a grassroots movement arising from the protests taking place on Wall Street for the past several weeks. The purpose is to simply “take up space” in the streets, as opposed to in front of computer and TV screens, as a means of expressing dissatisfaction with the nation’s current political, social and economic climate, group member Trinity Hurst said.

“We are the people who are supposed to be policing our overnment,” he said. “They work for us.”

Hurst and other group members stressed the Occupy movement wasn’t tied to any specific political faction, issues or agenda. In fact, Hurst said he believed the movement was big enough “that we can all have our own different agendas within the movement.”

The major goal of the organization is to work for and promote change through nonpartisan, peaceful and nonviolent means, he said.

Group members refer to themselves as “the 99 percent,” in contrast, they say, to the 1 percent of the country’s population that controls about 40 percent of its wealth.

The local group hopes to stage an occupation beginning Saturday to coincide with demonstrations planned in many cities nationwide to show support for the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Several possible locations were mentioned as sites for an Ashland occupation at Monday’s meeting. Among them: Judd Plaza, the areas near Ashland’s twin bridges and Greenup Avenue near the federal courthouse.

One group member said he thought the latter might not be a good choice because it could create the impression the protesters were targeting the federal government, which he said wasn’t the case.

Group member Justin Faulkner said it was important the group be inclusive and not alienate those who aren’t a part of it. He cited a recent national survey showing that while 27 percent have positive views of the Wall Street protesters, 54 percent don’t know what to think yet.

“That means people are going to judge this movement based on what we do and how well we tie ourselves to the values of the community,” he said.

Faulkner said he would like to see the group expand beyond protesting and do “other stuff, like helping the homeless people living under the bridges.”

Group member Jeremy Ferguson said the plan for Occupy Ashland KY was for it to be a “small democracy” where everyone has a voice in its direction and its activities.

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

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.

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