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"Occupy Together" Protests Spread to Multiple OR Communities

October 12, 2011

PORTLAND, Ore. - Frustrated folks in at least a half-dozen Oregon cities are part of the "99 Percent" or "Occupy Together" protests that have sprung up across the nation to protest corporate greed and government inaction. Some of the gatherings started last week and are still going on, but those who are not part of the protests may wonder what good they will do.

At the Portland "Occupy" event, Kari Koch says the scene may look a little disorganized, but the groups in each city are agreeing on goals and actions and have a clear vision of what needs to be changed.

"The economic and political system is not working for working people. It is, in fact, collapsing on top of the working class, and the general public lacks power in our existing system. And our role is to work to change those systems of inequality."

In her view, says Koch, with the Portland Central America Solidarity Committee, the tea party is swinging politics too far to the right, and the Occupy Together movement plans to nudge them back to the left.

The Oregon Tea Party issued a statement Tuesday critical of the Occupy Portland group for not getting a permit, and of the Portland mayor for allowing the demonstration. It says Portland police broke up a tea party rally in April but are letting this one continue.

Barbara Byrd, secretary-treasurer of the Oregon AFL-CIO, has been at the Portland protest and says the demonstrations won't last forever - but the energy they're generating just might.

"The stuff in the street may go away, but the relationships people are building, what they're learning about the issues, the way they're learning to focus their anger - that'll stick. And we'll be building on that to try to get some practical solutions in place to this mess that we're in."

Protesters aren't just angry with Wall Street, Byrd says, but with big business in Oregon as well.

In addition to the Portland event, Occupy Together protests are taking place in Ashland, Bend, Corvallis, Eugene, La Grande, Newport and Salem.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR