Soundoff: Occupy Durham

Calling themselves representative of the 99 percent of Americans who are threatened by the nation’s wealthiest citizens, a group of protesters gathered on the CCB Plaza in downtown Durham Sunday afternoon to promote their message. Mirroring the Occupy Wall Street rallies in New York City, Occupy Durham took place with the goal of opposing the American financial system and its effect on American politics. The Chronicle’s Joel Luther spoke with protesters about the event, their motivations for attending and their views on the current political and economic climate.

“Americans have the right to wake up and hear the truth, and not enough people exercise that right. We’re not all fighting for the same exact goals, but we’re all unified.”

—Melissa Loy, unemployed and currently trying to get into graduate school

“It’s really important that this is an organic movement. It’s possibly the only mainstream, grassroots Democratic movement. The media is not covering it, but I think it’s very important. It’s great to see Duke students here, but there should be hundreds if not thousands more of them.”

—Gareth Price, visiting assistant professor in Slavic and Eurasian studies at Duke

“Personally, I came because I’m an international student, and I felt proud of what Americans were doing on Wall Street—in regards to the march—the protest and people standing up for what they believe in. I came here with my own criticisms of America’s government.”

—Anastasia Karklina, a Duke sophomore from Latvia

“This is an expression of dissatisfaction from the other political side with a little more sensitivity. I think the teabaggers are a reaction—this is a recognition. Average people are being stimulated to speak out when they haven’t been before.”

—Amanda Ashley, an unemployed graphic designer

“The next step is to not do it from the top down, but to do it from the bottom up. It can’t come from Washington, it’s got to come from North Carolina. We need to send a resounding message.”

—Fred Foster, president of the Durham branch of the NAACP

“We have a lot of lunatics on the right running loose, carrying out the aims of the corporate elite. It’d be good to see a change of things in terms of outlook.”

—Rodney Derrick, retiree

“I am 59-years-old, and I have been an activist for 40 years because of things like this. My message is that we’re all related. If we look at ourselves as related – as each person having something to say – then that moves you forward. The second part of my message is to stop buying new things. That’s how you cut off the top 1 percent. You just have to cut them off at the pocketbook, and then you can start a respectful dialogue as equals.”

—Cathy McCarty, medical writer

“I’m here in solidarity with the movement on Wall Street, in Spain, in Greece, in England and in Chile, where people are rising up to fight back against the austerity measures that are being shoved down are throats by the government. We’re talking about ways that we can put an end to capitalism and put people’s needs ahead of profits.”

—Ben Carroll, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ’10

Editor's Note: This article reflects a longer version than the article in print publication today.


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