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Occupy Columbus’ supporters surround Ohio Statehouse

Courtesy of MCT

A movement that began with an “occupation” of New York City has found its way to Columbus in a rally Monday outside the Statehouse.

Calling themselves “Occupy Columbus” supporters of the somewhat underground movement gathered beginning at 8 a.m. Monday outside the Statehouse and continued well into the evening.

This gathering seemed to share the same sentiment of the economic-movement in New York that is receiving mainstream media attention.

“We are the 99 percent and we demand to be heard,” read several signs at the protest.

The 99 percent that is being referred to both in Columbus and in New York is the 99 percent of America that is not part of the richest 1 percent of the nation.

Protesters said they want change and not just political jargon meant to score an electoral win. The change they seek is transformative even if it is hard to define.

At the heart of the movement, it is about economics. Multiple protesters spoke about economics and the capitalist system.

Arthur Brehm, a fifth-year in history, described capitalism as “broken.” Brehm said his mother was a seamstress and his father is a welder.

Brehm said he attended to “dramatize a shameful condition” in the decline of the middle class over the last few decades. Brehm called the movement a “populist rage.”

Dan Horton, a student at Ohio University, disagreed with Brehm.

“Capitalism is not the problem, lack of understanding what is capitalism is the problem,” Horton said.

Conflicting statements were the norm at this rally because this movement does not seem to have one clear goal. It, like the movement in New York, seems to be defined by finances for one person and for others, it is defined by political and governmental change.

There was no one person in charge at the rally on Monday; instead a group of people would talk through a loudspeaker to the hundreds that attended throughout the day.

One common enemy of those gathered is the media and their lack of attention to the movement, Horton said. Demonstrators said that mainstream media have been quiet on the protests on Wall Street, in part because media companies are corporately controlled.

“People in the media can’t get a sound byte from us about what we want … so they dismiss us,” Horton said.

Kyle Reasinger, a Columbus artist heading to New York this weekend, said he believes the movement will grow and move away from corporate greed and more to a world movement saying “Free your mind and your a– will follow.”

Political analysts have charged the national movement as being the liberal answer to the Tea Party. While some liberals attended Columbus’ rally, the overall message seemed to be that government and the corporate donations allowing politicians to survive are the problem, rather than one political ideology.

Horton said the problem arises from corporate greed.

“The top 1 percent has most of the wealth while the middle class is diminishing,” Horton said. “We need to stand now or we will live in corporate-controlled America.”

Another common charge of the movement is that it is solely comprised of youth who are not aware of the real world. While at the Columbus rally, the vast majority of attendee’s were young and presumably college-aged, there were several noticeably older attendees.

Andrew Stoner, a federal government employee, said he attended because he believes the issue of economic disparity and change is one that crosses age and racial divides.

“We’re all in this together,” Stoner said. “Crappy citizens make crappy political leaders; we need to have influence, we need to get involved.”

Monday was a federal holiday, so no members of the Ohio State Legislature were present at the Statehouse.

A request for comment from Gov. John Kasich’s office was unanswered.

The protesters plan to meet again Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. at Bicentennial Park to protest during the General Assembly.

Horton had a message for the 1 percent.

“The 1 percent needs to hear us and be accountable,” Horton said.

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