Occupy Boise Marches Through Downtown
Members of the Occupy Boise group took to Boise’s downtown again on Wednesday, greater in number and larger in voice, deriding what they called “greed, corporate power and government corruption.”
Wednesday’s evening rush hour was serenaded by chants of, “Tell me what democracy looks like: this is what democracy looks like,” “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out,” and “We are the 99 percent.”
This was the group’s second march, and was noticeably bigger than the last one. At around 500 people, the protesters were able to draw the attention of pedestrians, commuters, and local businesses as they passed by.
“I think the main thing is to raise awareness,” said 58-year-old Shannon Commers, a substance abuse counselor. “The people have to be aware that there is a problem and that it’s up to all of us to be a part of the solution.”
“If you are the average American and you don’t recognize that there is something wrong with the way the system is run right now, then I encourage you to come to one of our events, or educate yourself, to really see that the government and private corporations don’t have the people’s best interests at heart,” said Sara Cramer, a 22-year-old deli worker.
Occupy Boise is part of the Occupy Together movement, which was spurred by the September 17 Occupy Wall Street protest. Protests continue on Wall Street and have now spread to more than 1,000 cities and towns across the nation.
Originally the protesters planned to march from the Anne Frank Memorial through the city and up to the Capitol Building. Their plans changed when the Boise City Police informed them that they did not have enough manpower to block the streets for the planned route. Protesters complained that they had submitted the necessary paperwork to City Hall, and that they were being unfairly treated. The group changed its original plans, and ended up marching back and forth on the sidewalks downtown.
The common theme of the Occupy protests is a frustration with corporate influence in politics. Protesters claim that the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans controls a disproportionate amount of the nation’s wealth, and that the other 99 percent of the country needs to come together and pressure politicians to enact systemic reforms that level the playing field.
“The people are frustrated with how 1 percent seems to call the shots and the other 99 percent are ignored,” said Steve Walker, a 57-year-old caregiver.
“It’s the system we’re inheriting and that we have to live in,” said Evan Bashir, a 23-year-old Boise State student. “As much as we want to be individuals, we’re affected by the system that we’re in. We need both the 99 percent and the 1 percent to realize that. They need to realize that we’re all in this together. I hate to sound so idealistic, but there is a relationship that needs to be balanced, and right now it’s unbalanced.”
Occupy Boise crowds Capitol
by Bryce Dunham-Zemberi
Participants such as Travis Kail, a junior philosophy major, held a cardboard sign that read “Ethics not profits.”
Occupy Wall Street is a leaderless effort that appeared on Wall Street in New York City, Sept. 17.
The movement’s goal is to protest corporate greed in today’s democratic republic; more specifically constituency-based lobbying, according to the Occupy Wall Street Movement website.
Constituency-based lobbying is legal in the United States, as defined by the U.S. Supreme Court case Citizen United v. Federal Election Commission. On Jan. 10, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled corporations, unions and political action committees (PACS) have no limitations on monies donated toward political causes.
“They (political representatives) are helping themselves out because the banks fund them. It happens all through the government, not just with banks but with the auto and energy industries as well,”
Proponents such as Boise State College Republican chairman Domenic Gelsomino believe the Occupy Boise assembly was part of a more socialist movement.
“The majority of things, such as class warfare, economic redistribution, overtaxing people who have worked their entire lives to be successful, I do not believe in that, I do not agree with that,” Gelsomino said.
Democracy Matters President and Occupy Boise protester Guss Voss said it is nothing of the sort.
“One popular phrasing of our group is ‘We are the 99 percent’ which obviously puts us in opposition to the top one percent. (It is) not that we think that the 1 percent does not have a right to participate in politics, but rather they (the 1 percent) do not have a right to dominate politics,”
According to Voss, the Occupy Wall Street movement is about ending the 1 percent’s profit gain from lobbying representatives at the detriment of the public.
The Occupy Boise movement brings attention to corporations, PACS and the top 1 percent donating more money to representatives than actual voters ever could donate.
To emphasize this, the Occupy Boise participants chanted on the capitol steps, “We are the 99 percent, our voice shall be heard.”
One main idea of the Occupy Wall Street movement is the richest 1 percent of the nation should not influence politics the way the other 99 percent could never afford.
Gelsomino said he disagrees, supporting more laissez faire economics.
“The donators make their own limit; it’s their money and it’s their choice. That is true economic freedom and
liberty,” Gelsomino said.
Owners of corporations have the right to support democratic or republican representatives who best align with the companies’ ability to make profits, according to Gelsomino.
Corporate lobbying of congressional representatives doesn’t just happen in Washington, D.C.
Constituency-based lobbying has its place in Idaho too, according to Voss who is a senior political science major.
“Even wind and geothermal energy in Idaho is basically being avoided as a policy option, because the amount of money and influence Idaho Power has,” Voss said. “They (Idaho Power) have worked with a number of organizations in Idaho to lobby the legislature to make sure there is no way to incentivize wind or geothermal energy. This way they (Idaho Power) can stay in coalescence with coal and their very lucrative power regime.”
Occupy Wall Street plans on addressing constituency-based lobbying and the movement is growing to more and more cities. For more information about the movement in Boise, visit their page on Facebook.
‘Occupy Boise’ protesters gather for march on Capitol this afternoon
About 200 people have gathered on a rainy Wednesday for Boise’s version of the “Occupy Wall Street” protests against the power of money in American life and government.
Attendees are meeting at the Anne Frank memorial along the Boise River, and will march to the Capitol at 4:30 p.m.
Some people are in bare feet or wearing Guy Fawkes masks (he’s the 17th century British conspirator who inspired Guy Fawkes Day); others carried drums and tambourines. Many carried signs, saying such things as “Audit the Fed,” “F— the investing class,” and “U R I AM WE ARE THE 99%.”
The loosely organized efforts to protest what organizers say is the excessive power and influence of Wall Street and banks over U.S. policy and politics started on Wall Street, but are spreading to a number of other American cities.