By Jamie Hale
As “Occupy Wall Street” protesters gather in cities around the country this week, Pocatello is having a local protest movement that’s smaller, but just as fired up.
Two dozen people gathered at Simplot Square in Old Town on Friday evening, a location named after one of the local corporations for which they have so much disdain. Some were in their teens, some were in their 70s, but their message was all the same: get rid of corporate influence in America.
Scott Richardson, one of the protest organizers, said that message is all about what they see as corporate control over America. Corporate influence over politics has led to a majority control of American wealth by a slim one percent of the population, he said. The national movement has said they are speaking on behalf of the other 99 percent.
“We’re the 99 percent, you know, everybody just feels like America has gone the wrong way for too long, and they really just want to stand up and let their voice be heard,” said Richardson. “We can’t just sit idly by and be silent anymore”
The group marched through Old Town with signs that proclaimed “We are the 99% and so are you,” “Do not be complicit,” and “Tax the rich.” Nationally, the protests have been defined as a new youth movement that is seen as revolutionary by its supporters and hypocritical by its detractors.
But not all of the protesters in Pocatello were the angst-ridden youth that dominate the national stage. Donna Jordahl, a 75-year-old Pocatellan and coordinator for local group Concerned Citizens, joined ranks with college students and teenagers, even if she wasn’t as active as her younger counterparts.
Jordahl was an antiwar protester during the Vietnam war, and said she has been itching for another chance to take to the streets. “It’s exciting, I’ve been feeling in the doldrums, because our constitutional democracy is dead if not dying,” she said. In her opinion, corporations just don’t understand the importance of keeping people happy. “You have to keep the masses happy, give them a decent wage, decent health care benefits, all those pathetically simple little things,” she said.
The fix isn’t so simple to some of the others. Rachel Taylor, who protested in a traditional Guy Fawkes mask, said she thinks there are a lot of things wrong with America. “I’m just sick of following bigot laws that make no logical sense,” she said. Her hallmark issue is with the Federal Reserve, the central banking system of the United States.
Taylor identifies as a libertarian, but doesn’t necessarily identify with some of the other libertarian-leaning protests in the country, like the Tea Party movement. She said she wants the Occupy Wall Street movement to be a dedicated group–one that can camp out and protest dawn to dusk.
Richardson sees the same goal for the movement. The showing of about two dozen people was actually incredible to him, especially considering the fact that he started the Pocatello branch on Tuesday over Facebook. Although the movement is nationwide, he said there’s a lot of reason for people in Pocatello to take to the streets. Corporations, like Simplot, have a lot of influence in town, he said, but most of all, people in Pocatello are part of that 99 percent. “Stand up and let your voice be heard,” said Richardson. “We are the 99 percent, everyone of us in this town.”
Contact Jamie at JHaleTBA@Gmail.com