Occupy Wall Street comes to Canton

Emily Inverso

KentWired Video

var so = new SWFObject(‘http://www.staterinteractive.com/player.swf’,’mpl’,’665′,’450′,’9′);





KentWired Video

var so = new SWFObject(‘http://www.staterinteractive.com/player.swf’,’mpl’,’665′,’450′,’9′);





It all started with one tweet: “What about #OccupyCanton?”

That’s all it took for Canton resident Chris Ricker to get interested in the Occupy movement and help start the Canton satellite of Occupy Wall Street with Micah Miller, senior English major at Kent State Stark.

Saturday marked both Canton’s first Occupy demonstration and the Global Day of Action, a worldwide day for people to stand up for what they believe.

“When you’re dealt an unfair hand, you have the right to reshuffle the deck,” Miller said. “All it takes is a logical American to realize the wealth disparity gap between the rich and the poor is abysmal. This is how we’re going to decide how everybody will live in the 21st century world and the 21st century economy.”

The Occupy movement began a month ago in New York City, when demonstrators gathered in Bowling Green Park to stand up against the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. Now, there are more than 1,700 meet-up cities across the globe, as monitored by Occupy Together.

Every Occupation is a little different, as each city faces its own issues, said Jacob Wagner, an organizer of Occupy Cleveland and junior law student at Case Western Reserve University. But each, he said, is standing up against some of the same basic ideas.

Occupy movement issues:

1. “Lobbyists and politicians have bought our politicians’ votes.”

2. “The student loan market is starting to look like the housing market in 2008.”

3. “Not all corporations are good citizens.”

And so on…

Miller said a lot of people do not fully understand the movement yet because it is so new, so he laid out a few of the issues he said were most evident:

1. “Lobbyists and politicians have bought our politicians’ votes.”

Meaning: “Big banks and large corporations are able to hire lobbyists and get laws passed that favor them,” said Richard Stanislaw, assistant professor of political science at Kent State. “They can make these advantageous trades whereas regular citizens don’t have the assets to take advantage of those things.”

In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that the government cannot ban corporate spending on political elections, meaning big businesses are treated just like people and can contribute any amounts they wish to candidate campaigns.

“My problem with that is corporations and special interest groups are not accountable, elected officials,” Miller said. “We don’t vote for those guys. Thus, when our politician votes, how much of that vote represents the people and how much of it represents his donors?”

2. “The student loan market is starting to look like the housing market in 2008.”

Meaning: “It gets messy when risky banking overlaps with the regular banking, and it put people’s mortgages at risk in 2008 when the whole thing collapsed in foreclosure,” Stanislaw said. “The policy suggestions now are to reinstate the walls between aspects of banking before students are unable to climb out of their loan debt that’s being traded among the banks.”

In 1933, Congress implemented the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated investment and commercial banking actions after the 1929 stock market crash. This regulated what actions commercial banks could and could not take with depositors’ money. In 1999, Congress approved the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which repealed those restrictions.

“I think one of the reasons that the college student is such a present demographic in Occupy is because money is being taken out of our educational system, which means we need more loans,” said Lacey Smalldon, sophomore public health major and group facilitator of Occupy Cleveland. “But then those are bundled and sold and traded, and students are tired of being so far in debt.”

new TWTR.Widget({

 version: 2,

 type: ‘search’,

 search: ‘#kwoccupy’,

 interval: 6000,

 subject: ”,

 width: 240,

 height: 300,

 theme: {

   shell: {

     background: ‘#b8b8b8’,

     color: ‘#66a9c5’


   tweets: {

     background: ‘#b8b8b8’,

     color: ‘#444444’,

     links: ‘#1985b5’



 features: {

   scrollbar: true,

   loop: true,

   live: true,

   hashtags: true,

   timestamp: true,

   avatars: true,

   toptweets: true,

   behavior: ‘default’



3. “Not all corporations are good citizens.”

Meaning: “Look at Texas as an example,” Miller said. “They’ve created about 50 percent of the nation’s jobs since 2009, but most of those are low-paying, uninsured positions. Then there’s the Bloomberg report showing Koch Industries have been found in violation of Iranian trade sanctions. I think those are example of bad corporate citizenship.”

Texas has created about 47 percent of the nation’s job growth since 2009, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that at 9.5 percent, it is also the state with the most workers paid at or below minimum wage, at about 26 percent, it is the state with the most workers lacking health insurance.

“I consider myself to be one of the fortunate 99 because I do have a pension and I’m collecting my social security,” said Jill Natkin, a Jackson Township resident and demonstrator at Occupy Canton. “However, it’s my children I’m here for. My daughter is 47. My son’s 30. They both have student loans. They’re both very hard workers. They have no health insurance. That’s just wrong.”

There are a myriad of other policy suggestions coming out of Occupy Wall Street, like government forgiveness of personal debt just like the corporate buyouts for struggling businesses and the creation of jobs for those who really do want to work.

James Marburger, a Canton resident with Tourette’s syndrome who Occupied Canton, said he was frustrated with how badly he wants to work but can’t.

“I’ve had good jobs before, got laid off, sent the company overseas, and now, because of my disability, I’m not able to get a job, not able to drive,” Marburger said. “I think the government actually needs to step back take a look at the bigger picture and find a way to help those people that want to help themselves.”

Wagner said the movements would continue in the local areas and grow across the country until the voices of the 99 percent of Americans are heard.

“The local issues are only symptoms of broader problems,” Wagner said. “We’re out here fighting for everyone.”

Andrew Manning, chairman of the Portage County Republican party, said he thinks the Occupy demonstrators could present themselves much more professionally and would be better heard by contacting congressmen.

“According to the news accounts that I’ve seen, they haven’t been very professional or effective,” Manning said. “I think they’ll fizzle out as soon as the weather starts to get cold. There are investors (on Wall Street), there are bankers there, and that’s how we create wealth in this country, by growing the private sector, not by putting strings and leashes on the private sector.”

But for now, Occupy will continue to demonstrate across the nation. Cleveland’s demonstrators said they plan to reach out to the area’s neighborhoods to educate on the movement. Smalldon said she thinks the collective actions are necessary because people, especially college students, don’t feel like they have a future because of debt.

“It’s like, you can be in tents and tarps right now on the street through the protests, or in the future, you can be in tarps and tents on the street because you haven’t been able to find a career for yourself,” Smalldon said. “I choose now.”

Contact Emily Inverso at [email protected].