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As demonstration continues in Iowa City, Occupy movement grows globally

BY CHASTITY DILLARD | OCTOBER 17, 2011 7:20 AM

 

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Occupy Iowa City demonstrator Jim Jacobson said he doesn't even know what the "American Dream" means anymore, but for him, what people want is pretty simple.

"You know, we don't begrudge people making money," the 47-year-old said. "We're not anti-capitalists. We're anti-greed."

Jacobson stood alongside roughly 180 others protesting America's big banks on Oct. 15 as a Global Day of Action. Since the movement's beginning on Wall Street, demonstrations have sprouted throughout Iowa and worldwide, including Madrid, Spain.

As of Sunday evening, roughly 10 occupy movements are present in Iowa, according to the website OccupyTogether.org.

"When the chairman of Wells Fargo makes $26.6 million — 662 times what a teller makes — that's just being a greedy bankster with no conscience," Jacobson said, employing a megaphone and sparking boos from the crowd on the Pedestrian Mall.

The protesters were stationed near the Iowa City Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank.

"We are not going away," Jacobson said to the protesters, of whom none was arrested. "They can ticket us. They can jail us. They can take away our permits, but that only strengthens our results. We will together create a country that will indeed put people before profits."

And with a roar, the crowd began a chant "put people first, put people first."

Roughly 116 miles away, more than 300 Des Moines protesters coordinated their march with organizers in Iowa City.

"When Iowa City called for a march at 10 a.m., we decided to stand in solidarity with our sister city," said David Goodner, a Des Moines protester and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement organizer.

Though Iowa City's protest has remained peaceful, other demonstrators have experienced more government resistance, including in Des Moines.

Jen Ellerman, 35, of Clarksville, Iowa and Des Moines protester, said the government needs to stop putting profits before people.

Ellerman said the way the government is treating people isn't sustainable.

"It's no longer in God we trust," said the single mother working on her second degree. "It's in money we trust. We are enslaved, and it's not the way its supposed to be."

Some Iowa protests have had more turnout than others.

Roughly 30 protesters rallied in Mason City.

Chad Schaffer, 28, a Mason City coordinator, is focused on public awareness and establishing issues for the group.

"Not a lot of people really know what's going on [in Mason City]," he said, and he plans to reach out for support throughout Iowa.

In Dubuque, "occupiers" aren't camping, leaving organizers unsure of who to expect.

"We didn't really know quite what to expect," Annie Jay said. "Our biggest concern is getting bodies."

However, 75 attended the event, the 26-year-old said.

Jay said her group hasn't specifically worked with other Iowa protest groups but is involved internationally by e-mail.

Overall, protests seek change, and in Boston the messages were strong.

"It was pretty intense," said Boston-native Aisha Cruse. The 23-year-old joined the movement in opposition to the war.

Cruse said though the protest was a success, it is unfortunate citizens felt demonstrating was the only way to be heard.

"It's great to know that this isn't restricted to America," Cruse said. "That it's really going global. We are not some fractured misbehaving mob, and we are a global ideal and global belief, and we are trying to make a global change."


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