The protest that has pitted populist outrage against the excesses of Wall Street is now branching out to 80 cities across the country. Thursday, local activists in Salt Lake City will march from the Capitol and occupy Pioneer Park until their demands are met.
For more than three weeks, activists on the East Coast have staged protests, rallies and marches in the heart of New York City’s financial district as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Those activists have pledged to not end their occupation until real Wall Street reforms are enacted. Now the occupation is coming to Salt Lake City, and Occupy SLC organizer Alexandra Fabela says local activists will do the same, occupying Pioneer Park in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement along with other peaceful “occupations” planned in 80 other U.S. cities, as well as protests all across the globe demanding recognition that Wall Street greed needs to be reined in.
While conservative voices like Glenn Beck have labeled the Wall Street protesters as socialists and anarchists, Fabela says that the movement is about the majority of Americans who continue to suffer from the fallout of the 2008 economic meltdown.
“The majority of the people are struggling,” Fabela says. “But are willing to do something to change that.”
The group has stayed close to the objectives and demands laid out by the Occupy Wall Street group, such as demanding that a serious investigation be made into the 2008 economic meltdown, that the Securities and Exchange Commission be re-organized with dedicated staff with the funding and support to challenge the bad actors on Wall Street, among other demands. (For more reforms called for by the group, visit the Occupy Wall Street demands page here.)
The occupation in Salt Lake City will begin with a march from the state capitol to Pioneer Park, where, Fabela says, protesters will stage their peaceful occupation. Protesters, she says, “will stay for as long as necessary until they are recognized and until our needs and demands are addressed. Basically as long as it takes.”
That occupation could involve a showdown with the police, who point out that there are strict curfew laws in effect at city parks.
“Pioneer Park is supposed to be shut down by 10 p.m.,” says Salt Lake City Police Detective Dennis McGowan, “and that applies to everyone because of issues ongoing in all city parks.”
Organizers for Occupy SLC, however, are preparing for the long haul. Fabela says speakers are being lined up to speak to the gathering, and they plan on holding workshops and teach ins. Organizers even plan on having a yoga teacher give free lessons in the park and ask only that participants donate food for the protesters in exchange for the lessons.
Fabela, hopes that the groundswell of support the local event has seen on Face Book -- where she says the Occupy SLC page gained 6,000 followers in one week alone -- will translate into a real movement. It’s a movement she hopes will involve small- business owners, foreclosed families, students buried in student-loan debt and everyone else who comprises the majority of Utahns and Americans whose voice in politics has been silenced by corporate interests and sold-out politicians.
As for whether or not the movement will grow and pick up momentum, Fabela, is cautiously optimistic. “As far as [the question] of… ‘is it going to last?’ That’s a hard question to answer,” Fabela says. “Personally, I believe it is. It seems almost too big to fail.”
Interested participants should plan on meeting at the Utah State Capitol, 350 N. State, at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 6, the rally will organize and then begin marching at 11 a.m. to Pioneer Park, 350 S. 300 West for the occupation. For more information visit Occupyslc.org