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Occupy Iowa City settles in for fourth day

BY MATT STARNS | OCTOBER 10, 2011 7:20 AM

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As the fourth day begins in the "Occupy Iowa City" protest, an infrastructure has begun to take shape in the local movement.

And though the group doesn't have a specific demands for change in Iowa City, demonstrators said it's the message their presence sends that is important.

"Our financial system is not sustainable; we're starting to see the results of that, the way it's starting to fall apart around us," said University of Iowa senior Nathan Rogers, a participant in the Oct. 7 protest.

Protesters converged on College Green Park on Oct. 7 in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York.

"I think a lot of people feel like we don't have any direct means of recourse against that," he said. "This whole movement is about these like-minded people coming together and voicing the opinion that we don't want to perpetuate a system the way it's been running."

The Occupy Iowa City protest began at 6 p.m., with a "general assembly" — a collective meeting of the group — at 7 p.m., in which organizers proposed an agenda and facilitated a vote on a preliminary statement of intent.

The occupation is still underway, and organizers say they will be staying indefinitely. So far, organizers said, they have seen a lot of community support for their efforts. Protesters have received donations of food and supplies from over 20 individuals, most of whom choose to remain anonymous.

The assembly also established committees in charge of specific aspects of the occupation, including security, medical, community outreach, and sleeping committees.

Despite previous questions about whether they would be able to assemble at the park without a permit, Iowa City officials said last week the group was permitted.

Protesters said as the event moved into the night, police came to ensure the safety of the group.

"We've been notified by the police that they will be here but only to protect us from possible drunk students walking by," said Michael Sears, an organizer.

UI alumna Carolyn Scherf told The Daily Iowan about the outreach committee.

"We're talking about forming connections with other organizations in town, talking about how we're going to target populations that are underrepresented right now."

During another assembly, the group decided it would accept donations,but not from politically motivated groups, wishing to remain independent.

"We want support, not sponsors," said Alison Clark, a Kirkwood student and member of the occupiers' food committee.

Food donations have been so abundant that the protesters have extended an open offer to those in need — daily dinners at 6 p.m. are open to anyone who is hungry.

And some locals are impressed with the demonstration.

"The value of what is happening here is that people are educating themselves, and educating other people," said Iowa City resident Tom Hickey. "They're analyzing the situation and seeing things that can be improved."

To the 72-year old Vietnam veteran, there is a familiarity to the occupation.

"I was here 40 years ago, this is the same thing," Hickey said. "I think that this whole thing is about a return to democracy, 21st-century style."


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