Occupy Atlanta

13 October 2011

Many times Georgia State students hurry through Woodruff Park in an attempt to be on time to class; however, getting to class this week has been extra interesting because of the Occupy Atlanta event being held in the park.

Occupy Atlanta is a rally being held in Woodruff Park as an extension of Occupy Wall Street, and various other extensions around the country.

Amber Hughes, an Occupy Atlanta supporter, said her purpose is to support Occupy Wall Street until her list of demands is met. She said she is not happy with the way things are, “The way the government is running and policing itself, and how corporations are controlling every facet of our daily lives.”

When asked why she personally supports this particular rally, Hughes replied, “I’m just fed up, like everybody else.”

Kolton Hughes, an immigrant rally supporter, is a part of Occupy Atlanta in hopes of reformed immigrant education rights. “We need to make some immigration changes,” he said.

Hughes explained, “A lot of people have grown up in the U.S., gone to their high schools, and established enough knowledge to be able to get scholarships. Yet, they get turned away because they don’t have any citizenship. These people have been brought up in the whole American culture and I don’t think it’s very fair. There needs to be some kind of new law that allows people who are toddlers, basically, American citizenship.”

Although it seems like Occupy Atlanta was suddenly spurred by the onset of Occupy Wall Street, Philip (who wishes to keep his last name anonymous) said, “They [the Occupy Atlanta coordinators] actually did a month of training for this and had a set date on when this was gonna happen.” However, Hughes said she believes a lot of people were empowered by the movement on Wall Street, and wanted to do whatever they could to support the efforts.

There have been concerns from both the citizens and the police as to whether or not the Occupy Atlanta rally supporters will be forced to leave Woodruff Park. Hughes’ response to this question was, “We’re here indefinitely. As long as the police will leave us alone—we’re staying here until all of our demands are met.”

By watching the news, the message is conveyed that the Occupy Atlanta participants are wild, unruly rioters. However, by visiting Woodruff Park, you can see that the exact opposite is, in fact, true. I asked Hughes how she felt about the perception that this rally is not peaceful and she said, “Oh yeah, we’re an unruly bunch. But seriously, our main priority is that we stay as peaceful as possible, because we’re not an angry mob. We’re a group of people coming together in protest of something. And that doesn’t need to include violence.”

At first glance, Occupy Atlanta seems to be a bunch of indie college students, but after taking a deep look around, you can find a diverse group of people. Although there is a majority of people aged 18-35, there is a mixture of left wing, right wing, “neo-cons,” different religions and backgrounds, employment and immigrant statuses that support this cause. Hughes summed up the population of Occupy Atlanta’s support by saying, “We are the 99 percent, a representation of the U.S. as a whole.”

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