Greenfield Man Explains ‘Occupy Milwaukee’ Movement
Robert Hansen explains the movement and why he’s involved.
By David Cotey
After reading the dizzying back-and-forth of comments – more than 120 of them in just two days – on a story Patch ran about Occupy Milwaukee’s planned protest for Saturday, I needed clarity.
At the very least, I needed some explanations.
So I asked Robert Hansen for some answers.
Hansen is a 34-year-old Greenfield resident. He works in a body shop in Milwaukee and is a songwriter for the band The Maze.
A self-described news junkie with an obvious point of view, Hansen is a student of history and politics and has been supporting the Occupy Movement from its conception because he is “concerned with the direction this country has been moving for the last 30 or so years.”
I emailed Hansen a few questions in advance of Saturday’s event. He pointed out his responses were his and his alone, and that other people involved in the Occupy Movement are so for other reasons. He also said the movement is not a fight to end capitalism or anti-American ideology, but simply an attempt to “restore the American Dream for all the citizens of this great nation.”
Whether you agree with Hansen or not, here’s hoping his answers shed light on Saturday’s event.
Greenfield Patch: There seems to be confusion as to what Occupy Milwaukee is all about. As someone who is involved and plans to participate, can you try and explain it. I’ve read “protests against the financial elite,” but what does that really mean?
RH: I don’t see how anybody can be confused. The message is clear that there is far too much corporate influence in our politics. People coming out on Saturday have a wide variety of concerns: 30 years of stagnant wages; unfair lending practices leading to home foreclosure by convincing people they could get loans they didn’t need at low interest that then ratcheted up to levels they couldn’t afford (up 14% in the last quarter); excessive student loan debt with little hope of paying it back in the current economic climate; 22% loss in pensions as a result of the 2008 crash; high unemployment; wealth inequality between men and women and from race to race; illegal wars; outsourcing of jobs; tax cuts in income and capitol gains that unfairly favored the rich; manipulation of financial markets by traders at Wall Street; lack of environmental regulations leading to health risks among the populous; lack of transparency at the Federal Reserve; unfair tax breaks to large corporations instead of small businesses; politicians ignoring the will of their constituents – Scott Walker, Paul Ryan, Ron Johnson are good examples here, though Democrats are not immune; the Citizens United ruling, the influence of American Legislative Exchange Council; in our state legislatures, etc.
It all this comes down to one simple and clear thing: corporations are not people and money does not equal speech. We need to have separation of corporation and state. Thomas Jefferson once said, “I hope [that] we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength and [to] bid defiance to the laws of our country.” A true visionary in so many ways. This is about economic and social justice.
Greenfield Patch: What do the protesters involved with Occupy Milwaukee hope to achieve? What is the ultimate goal?
RH: The ultimate goal is to bring fairness to the system for all citizens. If you are a politician and you do not do right by the people by continuing to let corporate money influence the way you vote, we the citizens of this great country will vote you out. We are in the streets to educate the 99 percent, to support the 99 percent, because we are the 99 percent.
Faith leaders joining Occupy Milwaukee
The Occupy Milwaukee rally and protest this weekend — an offshoot of the national Occupy Wall Street movement — is gaining traction in some quarters of Milwaukee’s religious community.
A group is expected to attend from All Peoples Lutheran Church, 2600 N. 2nd St., where Pastor Steve Jerbi preached on the subject Sunday. And the Rev. Willie Brisco of New Covenant Baptist Church and president of the Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope said he will speak during Saturday’s event and is urging other MICAH members to attend.
“I’m not against capitalism, but a capitalist society run amok takes care of the people at the top, and the people at the bottom are crushed,” said Brisco.
The anti-Wall Street demonstrations, which began in New York and spread across the country, protest the corporate greed and economic inequality protesters see as underlying the nation’s economic troubles. The Milwaukee event, which is being promoted on Facebook, begins with a rally at 11 a.m. at Zeidler Park, followed by a protest at 12:30 in front of Chase Bank, at 111 E. Wisconsin Ave.
Bank on Occupy Wall Street Catching On
By: Eugene Kane
In his column at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Eugene Kane says it’s no wonder that masses have been protesting against corporate greed on Wall Street after hearing that some banks plan to charge fees for debit cards and require higher minimum balances on checking accounts. After all, he says, they were financially rescued by taxpayers. Kane says that the movement will only grow stronger.
… After all, didn’t the banking industry receive something like $700 billion in taxpayer money in a bailout just a few years ago?
And now they want to charge me for using my debit card at Starbucks?
No wonder masses of people have been protesting against corporate greed on Wall Street in New York City.
The protests were largely ignored by media until 700 people were arrested in a clash with police last week. Suddenly, the protests have been acknowledged as a growing movement that may reach Milwaukee soon.
Local organizer Khalil Coleman has been planning similar events in Milwaukee to raise awareness of the issues that drive the Wall Street protests. Coleman, 25, is a spokesman for Occupy Milwaukee, an outgrowth of the Occupy Wall Street protests.
He said the movement is a campaign against corporate greed, which he said is of particular importance for young people and minorities.
Read Eugene Kane’s entire column at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.