Occupy Iowa group follows Wall Street protests


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Local organizers say corporate greed doesn't only impact those living in New York — it hits here in the Midwest as well.

A group of about 100 locals gathered on Wednseday night in hopes of bringing Occupy Wall Street-style protests to Iowa City. The group met at Public Space One discuss specifics of the event. The group came to the consensus the event will kick off concurrently with the Rally to End the War in Afghanistan at 4:30 p.m. Friday. Protesters will then march to College Green park at 6 p.m.

One of the group's main concerns was how quickly they would act. With Friday being the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan, most people who attended the meeting agreed it would be in their best interest to act sooner rather than later.

Tyler Anthony, who traveled from Waterloo to attend the event, agreed.

"It's almost a strike-while-the-iron-is-hot kind of thing," he said.

The event is intended to follow the format of the protests against Wall Street, which started Sept. 17. The protesters have likened their movement to the Arab Spring or a Tea Party movement, but with a liberal slant. Protesters call themselves "the 99 percent," with Wall Street and other large business corporations being the 1 percent.

Some protesters stressed that Iowa City feels the effects of large corporations.

University of Iowa teaching assistant Michael Sears said corporatism is not just an urban or metropolitan issue, and Iowa residents are affected by large corporations.

"As a rural state, and because it is so vital to the electoral process, I think Iowa and Iowa City have every reason to support and stand in solidarity with the protesters who are occupying Wall Street," Sears said.

The group hopes that students support and join the movement.

"It's important to get undergraduates involved," UI Student Government Chief of Staff Navi Bajwa said. "Once you get students involved, this is going to take off."

Sears said college students should participate because this movement represents their future.

"Too many college students are being promised jobs that just simply don't exist and likely never will under the current system," he said. "College students are being saddled with student-loan debt that will unfortunately be with them for the rest of their lives."

The October2011 Coalition in Washington, D.C. — which aims to bring attention to the same issues as the Occupy Wall Street Protests — also encourages college-age students to get involved. The movement, which kicks off today, will take place in Freedom Plaza.

Maria Allwine, a volunteer coordinator for the October2011 Coalition, commended the UI students and Iowa City citizens for joining the nationwide movements.

"We're right there with you," Allwine said. "I would think that in [the students'] own self interest that this would be just one of the issues that should concern you. You're going to be in bondage for decades trying to pay off your debts."

The recent nationwide protests are sparking campus walkouts. On Wednesday, many colleges took part in the Occupy Colleges movement by urging students to walk out of their classes at noon. More than 75 colleges said they would participate.

"The Occupy Together movement represents not only an opportunity for college students to voice their concerns over the present and future but also a chance at actually inspiring and creating real change," Sears said.

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