Group Holds Occupy Demonstration in Champaign

October 29, 2011

(Reported by Azra Halilovic)

The solidarity group Occupy Champaign-Urbana organized a demonstration Saturday afternoon in downtown Champaign. More than a dozen people met at the corner of Neil and Main to protest corporate policies and political inequality.

That's compared to the 300 people who attended the march and rally in West Side Park a couple weeks ago. Saturday's event was part of a series of smaller demonstrations the group is organizing in Champaign County. The demonstrators held signs and handed out fliers with details about their group and ways to get involved. The group is in solidarity with the anti-Wall Street movements that have erupted across the nation and globe.

The demonstrators included students, working class citizens, and retirees. While they have personal motives for participating in the demonstration, they are all seeking economic reform and greater political representation.

Pat Dewal of Champaign is a retired resident who became involved with the Occupy movement about three weeks ago. Dewal said she would like to see less corporate involvement in politics.

"I just have a lot of concerns about what's happening in our country and how much things have been in decline," she said. "I think it's time for citizens to speak up and do something."

Dewalt added that most people who organize and attend the events are on the political left, but that the group welcomes people of all political ideologies.

"Only a few Libertarians have been involved," she said. "It would be nice to hear more conservative voices. They would be enthusiastically welcome."

As cars stopped at streetlights, Eric Burton of Champaign approached them to hand out the group's fliers. He was there with his wife and child, and said he would like to see the government do a better a job representing families.

"I'm a working class citizen of this country," he said. "We can barely afford health insurance. I work about 70 hours a week between jobs and we just get by. And so that's my own personal impetus to be involved. I think it's more about a perception of what's right and wrong."

Other people at the demonstration expressed frustration with the role of lobbyists and the influence of money in politics. They hope to have a better and more diverse turnout at their future events. Organizers plan to hold a similar demonstration Tuesday at noon at the University of Illinois ' Urbana campus.

(Photo by Azra Halilovic)

Story source: WILL