Occupy IC teach-ins educate public

BY JENNY EARL | OCTOBER 13, 2011 7:20 AM

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A little rain didn't stop Occupy Iowa City's plans to incorporate Occupy Wall Street's use of teach-ins.

The group, which has camped out at College Green Park since Oct. 7, held its first teach-in Wednesday evening with a discussion on libertarianism led by Iowa City resident Chris Patton, a former Daily Iowan columnist.

The members of the education committee decided teach-ins are a way to get people together, providing a venue for people to realistically discuss details of current issues.

Shortly after the discussion began Wednesday, a thunderstorm struck, causing occupiers to pull out every resource they had to push through the weather. Patton lead the group into a gazebo, the only source of shelter available, and continued the discussion.

Pulling out umbrellas and quickly tarping all sides of the gazebo, the members of the Occupy Iowa City education committee made sure they still got their word out to UI students, community members, and other occupiers.

Committee member Shay O'Reilly, a former DI columnist, said the protesters would like their encampment to be a locus for educational events.

"We'd like to encourage people to learn things they wouldn't otherwise learn in school or out in public and facilitate conversations that don't often happen," O'Reilly said.

Most of the members who attended Wednesday's discussion voiced their concerns about regulation of financial markets and the government's guidelines regarding large financial institutions.

Patton said if banks go broke or businesses can't pay their bills, they should liquidate.

"Instead, we have the worst of both worlds," Patton said. "If banks succeed, they keep it all. If they fail, then the government comes in and saves them."

Patton said the general libertarian thought on regulation is skepticism that it will accomplish what it attends to accomplish, and libertarians know the extent to which large corporations control the government.

"All laws should apply equally to everyone and now we have a system where that's not the case," Patton said.

Although the first teach-in focused on libertarian views, Ryan Phillips, who attended the first educational committee meeting, said educational topics will be broad, ranging in topics from libertarianism, immigration, finance reform, the tax system, capitalism, and the origins of the 2008 financial collapse.

"I think [teach-ins] are one of the best things we do," Phillips said.

He said teach-ins are mainly used to foster discussions like the one on libertarianism, helping people explain their views and values.

"The spread of knowledge is always good," Phillips said.

Occupy Iowa City tries to keep up with Occupy Wall Street to facilitate public interest and understanding.

After the teach-in, an elderly woman approached the group to ask about the members' goals.

"I read about and heard about [Occupy Iowa City] and came, wondering if I could find more pinpointed goals," said Iowa resident Beth Clopton. "The concept that a lot of things need to change I definitely support."

And organizers said they hope to continue to attract more community members just like her.

"Everybody's concerns are to be talked about, and that's why we're here," said UI freshman Will Goldberg.

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