‘Occupy’ protests hit close to home

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Jennifer Werner

From the protestors of the “Occupy Wall Street” in New York City, to small towns across the U.S. comes “Occupy Roanoke,” a local protest with the same message that has conquered the hearts and minds of Americans across the country, “we are the 99 percent.” The 99 percent consists of what is called the “left wing version of the tea party,” the lower to middle class individuals who are fed up with corporate moguls and financial hardships.

On Saturday, Oct. 15, locals gathered at the intersection of Elm Avenue and Williamson Road in Roanoke carrying signs with slogans such as, “Get Corporate money out of politics.”

Courtney Campbell, 27, of Roanoke, told the Roanoke Times, “The main goal of the Occupy Roanoke group is to raise awareness of the campaign and let people know the causes of the current economic crisis… We want to encourage people to take a more active role in positive change.”

Founded on the principles of those in the Occupy Wall Street movement, protestors sought to bring an end to what they call is the “inequality between the 1 percent of Americans who hold most of the country’s wealth and the other 99 percent.”
Rafael Gonzalez, the organizer for the Roanoke protests voiced his opinion that an independent voice is needed and therefore the protests are apolitical.

Saturday, which had been dubbed World Occupy Day, brought protestors not only to Roanoke, but to Floyd County and Blacksburg where more occupy protests occurred. Blacksburg saw an overlap in protests as Virginia Tech presented its very own Occupy Virginia Tech movement a few days prior on Thursday Oct. 13.

With over 100 people in attendance, gatherers formed around the Virginia Tech War Memorial Chapel stressing the burden of debt incurred from the high costs of education that made victims of individuals who didn’t fall in the category of the wealthiest 1 percent of people in America and an education system that overpaid only a few of the college faculty positions, whereas, they offered barely anything to those on lower levels.

Zhao Gao, a sophomore at VT told WDBJ7, “Schools shouldn’t increase tuition every year. Education is a basic right humans should have.”

A unison of voices chanting “Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! Greed and corruption have to go,” could be heard across the campus as more individuals paved the way for a continuous movement that is hitting college campuses and cities around the US and across the world.