Occupy Austin protests government

The sidewalk chalk outside  the Austin City Hall isn’t hopscotch or artwork sketched out by children present. It’s calling for anarchy.

The music played on the steps isn’t for a large music festival. It’s being sung so that the people passing by on the streets will hear opinions of the corruption of the American government.

This is the Occupy Austin demonstration.

UPS employee and part-time protester Roxanne White joined the protest because she believes that Americans are all born into slavery, but that as a nation, the people are strong enough to realize this. She said they should exercise their right to change it.

“Every little aspect of our lives has been programmed for us,” she said. “When you’re born, you’re not even given to your mother, and you’re born into bright, artificial lights.”

She believes that all of the societal issues the country is facing stem from the economic system. Her solution begins with anarchy and leads to the people cultivating their own resources.

Occupy Austin protesters Aggie Navarro and Zach Nasar make signs on the lawn outside the Austin City Hall building. Photo by Brittany Montgomery.

Occupy Austin protesters Aggie Navarro and Zach Nasar make signs on the lawn outside the Austin City Hall building. Photo by Brittany Montgomery.

“I don’t believe in any form of government whatsoever. Power leads to corruption- always,” White said. “The best thing to do is start taking back the land. Start growing vegetables everywhere and start feeding your families.”

The Occupy Austin movement started October 6 and has had a steady group of people protesting in downtown Austin ever since. They hold signs,  play music, share ideas, and make themselves known because they hope to be a catalyst for change.

A stench hovers outside of City Hall, one that rises from people camping out without showers or bathrooms. Some protesters are clothed in thin yoga pants, some in costumes, some in shorts and T-shirts and others with hardly any clothing at all.

But what kind of change do they want? Are they unified in their protests with the rest of the world, the country or even within their own group?

Austin resident Jacqueline Edwards, 20, is concerned with what she says is the corruption of America’s government and the implications that has on citizens.

“I’m for the cause. I really feel like what we’re doing here goes to show (the) downfall of our government and how they have ruined our economy and also how it’s affected the American people and that’s why we’re all here,” she said.

Edwards joined the protest the first day of the rally, believing that the political system of the United States needs to be re-thought.

“A Democratic Party and a Republican Party are really just a party, and they are faces in the media. We have to come together. There shouldn’t be a Democratic and Republican party,” Edwards said. “I want change. We need freedom.”

Zach Nasar, a 20 year-old Austin resident isn’t as concerned about the two-party system as he is about the large gap between the 99 percent and the 1 percent.

“The separation between the poor and the wealthy is growing more and more until eventually there isn’t going to be a middle class. There’s just going to be the mega wealthy people and the people that serve them,” Nasar said.

He believes the monetary system in the United States is flawed and he is protesting the control a small group of people has on the production of U.S. currency.

“I’m largely protesting the Federal Reserve Bank because I feel like that is an issue that we can agree upon. It’s a private corporation that makes our money and loans it to our country at interest, and we are stuck paying back the loans,” Nasar said. “By controlling our money, they control our resources and, therefore, control the direction of the world based on their views.”

The group in Austin isn’t as large as those in other cities, like New York, because most people are joining in the protests in the evenings only.

However, some people have taken up residence outside the building.

Four people were arrested for trespassing Oct. 13 when they refused to leave for a period of cleanup time done by the city, but the next day, people returned with their signs to speak out against varying issues.

Jacob, a 20 year-old college student who declined to give his last name, skipped class for a day to protest at City Hall against the power that the top 1 percent have in our society.

He said, “We’re here to reclaim our rights as citizens of a nation. Our government has forsaken the first line of its Constitution. It’s no longer we the people. It’s us the rich.”

Many protesters agree on the issue of corporations and disagree with the amount of  power they exercise over individuals.

Matt Schaefer, an Austin resident was protesting outside City Hall for power to be returned to the people.

“I’m here because I think there’s something wrong with the whole system. The way government is run by the big corporations, you don’t really have much of a chance if you’re just a regular human being in this country,” he said.

Schaefer thinks the solution to the problems he sees in corporate power is a swtich in administration.

He said, “The solution should be changing the people who are in charge and teaching them love and compassion, but that’s kind of hard to do.”

The job market is another issue that concerns protesters. Twenty-three-year-old Austin resident Aggie Navarro wonders what job options she will have after she graduates from college.

She said, “I don’t really feel secure about me after graduation. I see it. I live with college grads. Their jobs aren’t allowing them to grow. It’s an epidemic with our country.”

She said that the job market is a scary place for many people and believes that for the Hispanic community, it is especially something to be feared.

“I haven’t seen signs in Spanish, and I feel like a lot of the Hispanic community isn’t that involved, and they are really affected by everything. I think they should know what’s going on and be involved,” Navarro said.

She made a sign in Spanish that encouraged people to open their eyes to the problems and become advocates for change. She thinks the only way for change to happen is for people to stand up and speak out on issues they are worried about.

Navarro said, “We are being lied to by our own country. The American dream has been long gone. It’s such a lie. I just want people to become educated. I want people to know that their voice is powerful.”


JC Jones and Katie Maze contributed to this story.

Author: Brittany Montgomery

Bio info coming soon!

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