What started as a demonstration in Zuccotti Park in New York City has now taken root in cities across the country and the world, including Cincinnati and Dayton. Occupy Wall Street, a protest against corporate greed and economic inequality has spread like wildfire through social media channels and has been gathering support since Sept. 17.
On Saturday, Occupy Cincinnati and Occupy Dayton held events for the cause. Active supporters of Occupy Cincinnati met at Lytle Park in downtown Cincinnati for the protest, which officially started at 1 p.m.
James Hawkins, Miami sophomore, was there.
“The actual march had an energy about it I’ve seldom felt before,” Hawkins said. “As we marched through the streets, people would walk up and join the group while drivers honked. Residents watched out of their windows. It was the purest expression of first amendment rights I’ve ever seen.”
A group of protesters made music on paint can drums and event organizers started chants with their megaphones. The group marched for three hours through downtown Cincinnati and arrived at Fountain Square where the occupation began. By the time they got there, Hawkins estimated 300 and 400 people were in attendance.
The movement was in full swing in downtown Dayton, too. Activity started at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Courthouse Square.
Courtney Griesheimer, a Dayton resident, attended the rally.
When she arrived, there were a few speeches already in progress. People made signs out of cardboard boxes. They listened to music and some played instruments. There was even a girl with a hula hoop, Griesheimer said. Some people were lined up to register to vote; others lined up to sign petitions.
The crowd dispersed to walk in groups around the city and garner support before retuning to Courthouse Square.
“We had people honking horns and cheering,” Griesheimer said. “Some got out and joined us.”
Protesters on Saturday didn’t have to worry about police interrupting their rally. In fact, some even appreciated the efforts.
“There was a report of a police officer turning on his lights and holding his fist up in support,” Griesheimer said. “I witnessed an ambulance honking their horn and cheering – take a look at issue 2.”
There have been Occupy events every day in both cities since Saturday. While the activity wages on all over the nation and around the world, Griesheimer is uncertain about where to go next.
“We were there because we know things aren’t working, but nobody is really sure what it is, or how to fix it. It seemed a little unorganized. This movement needs a strong leader with a solid plan.”