Occupy Savannah claims Emmet Park for protests
The Occupy movement, a protest representing the “99 percent” who oppose corporate greed and a faulty national democracy, reached Savannah on Sunday with a protest and gathering in Emmet Park.
A national movement, ignited by the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City, takes aim at a myriad of topics affecting Georgians, ranging from privatization to equality in student loans. At Sunday’s rally more than 40 were in attendance with a wide range of youth to elders from Savannah and surrounding cities.
“I’ve brought people together so that we can voice the problems a lot of society is having right now,” said Phoenix Godwin, 20, the orchestrator of Occupy Savannah. “I think that they’re tired of living in a corporate controlled society.”
Godwin works in retail at a historic site and is a Savannah native. He explained that the problem he and others see is a nation that has few options and is slowly running out of them with no alternative sources to corporate goods.
“I think it’s more like everything that you do and everything you get and everything you buy going through your regular life comes through a chain store or corporation.”
Godwin said that with as much control over the market that corporations have smaller economies and infrastructures suffer.
“That drains economies from communities whether it’s a city or a state because all of that money is going from one area and it’s going up to companies stationed in cities far away,” he said. “That’s part of what the 1 percent means, what that money is going towards … ”
James Weathers, 21, a fourth year music education student at Georgia Southern University, sat on the Bay Street curb protesting as a soon-to-be graduate.
“I’ve been educated in the necessity of providing for human people regardless of age, race, religion,” he said. “There’s absolutely no reason why I should be enslaved by debt to get an education.”
Many flocked to Emmet Park on the eastern edge of Bay Street in search of new solutions to old problems.
“I’m here to think about some alternative politics. I think that the old politics of the past are through,” said Modibo Kadalie, 68, of Riceboro. “I’m just glad to see the young people out here. I feel much better, personally.”
With an increasing number of protesters gathering on Bay Street, the group planned to camp out overnight.
Godwin expects upward of 400 to attend over the coming weeks as they move between Emmet Park and Johnson Square. The protests, Godwin said, are planned to last until Oct. 15.
Janay Kingsberry contributed to this report.
Occupy Wall Street Spreads to Savannah
By Ryan Smith
The protestors plan to meet at Emmet Park on Bay Street near Savannah City Hall at that time, according to a statement on the group’s Facebook page. “If forced to, we’ll march to Johnson Square at Bull and Congress Street,” the statement reads. “We will be practicing our freedom to assembly, we will not be shut down, and we WILL be heard.”
The Facebook page advises participants to plan for an overnight stay. “We understand that people need to make a living and have school, so we urge you to come and go as needed in order to protect your jobs and education,” it reads. “But otherwise the more people that can stay overnight the better.”
“Also please be mindful that this is a peaceful demonstration,” it reads. “For everyone’s safety and for the potency of the movement it is important to remain nonviolent. We also respectfully ask that you refrain from bringing drugs or weapons, wearing masks that cover your face, or generally letting yourself get out of hand in order to avoid provoking the local police force.”
The Occupy Wall Street protests have been going on continuously in New York for nearly a month, leading to repeated clashes with police. Although the protestors have been criticized for lack of focus, the group’s disenchantment with corporate power has sounded a chord with many Americans, leading to similar protests across the country.
For more on Occupy Savannah, stay tuned to Fort Stewart Patch