POSTED ON OCTOBER 5, 2011:
Organizing a New Voice
New group stands in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street demonstrators
We're the 99, and we'll never forgive/We'll never forget how you've made us live/Expect us at your door, prepare to defend!/The reign of the moneyed and privileged now ends."
This is an excerpt from the poem "Expect Us," written by poet and musician Bill Allyn on Sept. 28 as he protested alongside thousands of other "99 Percenters" in the heart of Manhattan.
Since Sept. 16, demonstrators have beat drums, chanted, slept in sleeping bags and peacefully protested just blocks from Wall Street.
Their demonstration has rippled throughout the world, with new Occupy groups popping up in cities like London, Madrid, Dallas, Chicago and Boston. Groups of demonstrators are organizing in Germany, Australia, Japan and Ireland, too.
All voice solidarity for the protesters of Occupy Wall Street.
The movement has spread to Oklahoma, too, with Occupy Tulsa, Occupy OSU, Occupy OU and Occupy Oklahoma City groups firing up just a week after the first day of New York protests.
Occupy Tulsa's first General Assembly meeting was held at Newblock Park in west Tulsa on Oct. 1. The crowd of about 50 included people of all ages and creeds, from 60s-era hippies, progressive activists, professed Republicans and members of Occupy OSU and Occupy Oklahoma City.
Some people said they'd never done anything like this before, but were frustrated and angry and want to see change.
Members of the assembled group said they'd like to see change in primarily financial and political arenas, including: economic inequality, unethical banking practices, the waning power of unions, outsourcing, corporate personhood and corporations -- and the wealthiest 1 percent -- "buying" elections and politicians.
Occupy Tulsa was organized on Facebook (the fan page now has more than 1,700 "likes") by Daniel Lee, a father, husband and University of Oklahoma student who's worked part-time in lower-paying retail jobs for 10 years.
Growing up, Lee's family lived paycheck-to-paycheck, toeing the poverty line. He said he wants to give his five-year-old son a better childhood and a better future.
"The majority of Americans are struggling," Lee said.
Tulsa's poverty rate stands around 25 percent, he said. Lee is frustrated by the "entire electoral process," where he believes people don't have direct control because of partisan primaries and corporations pumping money into certain candidates.
"I've felt for a long time that I wanted to make a difference," Lee said. "But as an individual, it's hard to make your voice heard."
He's tapping into the undercurrent of "helpless rage" many have felt in a depressed economy.
The Occupy groups, he said, "sprung up overnight and are true grassroots movements through free social media.
[We're] doing this as the voice of the people," he said.
Lee was inspired to start the Tulsa group after witnessing the conviction of Occupy Wall Street protesters, "who are still there and still getting maced by the NYPD," he said.
The next Occupy Tulsa General Assembly meeting is set for Saturday, Oct. 8. The group's list of demands remains diffuse, as the eclectic assembly sorts through its concerns and finds focus.
"Everybody wants something," Lee said, "A full list of demands is ongoing and we want to have everybody weigh in."
The group is collecting canned food and non-perishable items in anticipation of its own demonstration, which is tentatively set for Oct. 15.
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