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IC City Council, 'Occupy' should focus on real issues

BY EMILY INMAN | NOVEMBER 04, 2011 7:20 AM

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The U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday passed a measure reaffirming "In God We Trust" as the national motto.

Many people, such as Rep. Jerrold Nadler D-N.Y., responded to the vote negatively, calling it a waste of time. President Obama commented in similar fashion, saying the vote was "not putting people back to work" and was distracting the House from serious issues affecting Americans.

Tuesday night's hearing at the Iowa City City Council meeting regarding permit restrictions for the Occupy Iowa City protesters is akin to the waste of time for the "In God We Trust" measure.

Protesters and councilors argued for hours trying to come to a compromise on the size of the tents protesters would be allowed to set up in College Green Park.

Instead of discussing how to bring more jobs to Iowa City, how to increase affordable housing throughout the community, or how to expand free-lunch programs, councilors and protesters argued over tent sizes. Let me repeat: tent sizes.

Now, I'm not versed on many economic issues, but I'm pretty sure that a 9-foot limit on a tent won't put food on a family's table tonight.

The Occupy Iowa City protesters say they are fighting against economic, social, and political injustices. But protesters are spending all their time fighting useless battles.

The protesters should be conducting more productive measures in order to get the attention of the City Council and the community. They could be going around Iowa City gathering signatures for petitions to present to the City Council. They could work on measures to put before the City Council that seek to alleviate financial burdens on the poor in Iowa City. They could also educate the community regarding the social injustices in Iowa City and throughout the country and also about the intention of the Occupy protests in regards to solving such issues. A few protesters could even have jumped into the City Council race themselves, with a campaign platform centered on correcting social injustices plaguing our community, but now it's too late. These sorts of steps would influence and create change.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against protesting for a cause. Protesting is an integral part of successful social movements, but the protesting needs to have a purpose, must incite action, and continue to push for social progress.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better." The Occupy protesters are certainly dedicated to their cause. And as Occupy protests grow in number, they are also moving away from being the minority. However, they have yet to show any creativity or any progress, for that matter.

The protesters need to stop wasting time on issues of permits, tent sizes, and portable heaters.
Instead, they should use that time to make their protesting a part of a successful social movement that seeks to rid Iowa City of social injustices. This can be done through creative and persistent action to educate, show tangible injustices, present new information, and implement stages of change.

The Occupy Iowa City protest is a part of Occupy protests that have been established all across the country. However, there is a lack of continuity among some of the protests, and critics question the legitimacy and influence of the protests because there is no clear leadership among the protests.

The criticism manifested into a news story when protesters became violent and rioted in Oakland, Calif. Though many Occupy groups in other cities and states denounced the violence and riots, there is still a lack of leadership and continuity among the protests.

In translating their protesting into a functional social movement through progressive actions, Iowa City has the opportunity to become an Occupy leader and example for the rest of the county and spearhead success.


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