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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Occupy Tucson comes to campus, fails to connect with some students

Occupy Tucson comes to campus, fails to connect with some students
Angie Lopez

Reciting an assortment of chants and armed with signs and flyers, about 30 members of Occupy Tucson made their way from Armory Park to the UA Mall on Thursday afternoon.

The movement, formed in late September, is in solidarity with the original Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York, Since its first assembly on Sept. 17, more than 1,500 cities across the globe have witnessed similar demonstrations. While motive for the protests tend to vary between participants, claims that members represent the “99 percent” of Americans working for the “1 percent,” or the larger corporations who own most of the nation’s wealth.

According to participants, Thursday’s march to the Mall was an effort to spread the word and educate college students about the movement.

“Hopefully the young people will become involved,” said Mark Richard, a 56-year-old Tucson resident. “We’re starting to see a lot more faces these days, which is very, very encouraging. It’s what it’s going to take to make the differences in this country.”

Richard, who has been protesting wars for the past 10 years, said he is concerned about corporate power and political corruption and just returned to Tucson from Washington, D.C., where he participated in a similar Occupy protest for eight days.

“Things are happening nationwide, so it’s very, very exciting,” Richard added. “It’s good to connect here at home.”

Protesters for Occupy Tucson are also participating for personal reasons. Laura Dennison, a 39-year-old Tucson resident and student at Pima Community College, said she has struggled financially, and hopes to make a difference with the protest.

“For a long time, I had been struggling. I applied for food stamps, and all I could get was $65,” Dennison said. “But I am going back to school now and trying to change my life. There’s a lot of problems going on in America that need to be addressed.”

Claire Tyrpak, a 52-year-old Tucson resident, is also spreading the word after experiencing personal hardships.

“I was once middle-class, I got laid off, so I have a very low income through unemployment,” Tyrpak said. “I have no health care, my house is financially underwater and my 401K is tanking.”

Tyrpak said she is helping with the movement’s outreach because she wants to help spread the word.

“I’m hoping that students will come and join us as well,” she added.
But despite the confidence and optimism of protesters, some students on the Mall were not as impressed.

“I don’t really know exactly what they’re talking about, something about Wall Street, I’m guessing,” said Brandon Welbourn, a physiology junior. “I haven’t heard of it, and now would not be the best time to hear about it, because I’m not really focused on that kind of thing.”

Steve Baldwin, a microbiology junior, also said the group’s timing was inappropriate, and that protesters should not have gathered on the Mall where UA students were busy supporting the football game.

On the other hand, the movement did have some popularity among students.

“I enjoy it,” said Zac Maes, a physiology junior. “I support it 100 percent. Whatever the movement is, I enjoy peaceful walkthroughs like this, whatever the cause is.”

Even though the movement began in September, organizers don’t plan to stop anytime soon.

“This is going to help because … everything that ever came about happened through this (protesting),” Tyrpak said. “Leaders don’t bring about it on their own most of the time — it’s because people express their First Amendment right to free speech and to assemble, and it raises the consciousness.”

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