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Students join Occupy Chicago protests

October 21, 2011

On Sept. 17, protesters in New York City marched on Wall Street to protest financial and political corruption and set up an encampment in Zuccotti Park. So began the Occupy movement. By mid-October, hundreds of similar protests have taken place in cities throughout the United States and the world. The movement’s influence recently spread to Monmouth College when two students participated in the Occupy Chicago protests.

Junior Connor Shields participated in the Chicago protests over fall break and again Saturday, Oct. 15. Shields became interested in the movement because of how its views resonated with his own.

“Their main grievances have a lot to do with corporate greed, the accessibility of wealth, the accessibility of education, corporate ethics and corporate welfare,” said Shields.

He had a particular interest in the ways these issues related to industrial agriculture.

“During fall break I decided I was going to head into the city and check it out: talk to some people and share my ideas, share where I was coming from and learn what other people had to say about why they were at the protests,” he said.

While in Chicago, Shields was featured in a video on the Wall Street Journal’s website where he can be seen playing a drum.

“It’s pretty easy to gather from the video that all we are doing is beating on drums, which is not true at all,” said Shields.

He characterized most of his experience protesting in Chicago as participating in discussions and attending general assembly meetings as part of the decision-making process of the protest.

“I think the most effective thing I did there was talk to people and listen to people,” said Shields.

Sophomore Kyla Quigley also participated in the Occupy Chicago protest last weekend. Her main motivation for going was to learn about the event, but she also agreed with the movement’s goals of ending corporate elitism and re-empowering common people.

“When I started the weekend out, I went there kind of skeptical of it, because I didn’t know what it was really about,” said Quigley. “There wasn’t a set end game.”

After speaking with some of the protesters, she found herself more sympathetic to the protest.

“The people are some of the kindest and most accepting, but they are also the most intelligent people I’ve had an opportunity to speak with in a very long time,” said Quigley. “They know why they’re there. They know why people think they shouldn’t be there. They know what they need to do.”

The Occupy protests are not without controversy. Some commentators have criticized the movement and even some sympathetic to the movement remain weary. So far approximately 200 protesters have been arrested for nonviolent misdemeanors in connection with the Occupy Chicago protests.

Despite the controversy, both Shields and Quigley feel positive about the movement and expect it to continue to grow.

“You can laugh it off for now, but it is a big thing. Its going to effect everyone in this country in some way,” said Quigley.

Wesley Teal
News Editor

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