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99-percenters takin' it to the ... golf courses?

Andrew W. Griffin
Nathaniel Batchelder, of the Oklahoma City Peace House, speaks to the Occupy OKC "public pep rally" on Saturday.
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Occupy OKC protesters' numbers are smaller on Saturday but they are still determined to make their voices heard

OKLAHOMA CITY – Protesters, activists and the simply curious were few and far between midday Saturday when the Occupy OKC “public pep rally” was held in Kerr Park, as part of what has grown to be a week-long “occupation" of the downtown Oklahoma City park.

The moderator of the event encouraged all of the folks in the park - whose rallying cry was “We are the 99 percent” and were following the lead of Occupy Wall Street in New York - to gather around the oval by the Kerr Park fountain and amphitheatre and share with the rest of the group what they wanted addressed.

And this was seen as a good move. Occupy OKC activists had already sent a list to the media explaining the “new structure for the organization,” which is key to having a democratic organization like Occupy OKC, we were told. This includes daily protest marches, held downtown, a 30-minute “General Assembly” meeting, daily “Workgroup” meetings and plans for live music events until 10 p.m. each night. In fact, it was announced that rabble-rousing socialist and singer David Rovics would be performing for Occupy OKC at midnight Tuesday.

With that established, the moderator asked people to take turns talking into the microphone and share their thoughts and desires.

Lydia Polley of Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty naturally called for an end to capital punishment and encouraged the young people listening to join the typically older activists who are involved with OKCADP. Long-time peace activist Nathaniel Batchelder noted a number of important issues in need of addressing, from elite schemes to suppress voting to a plan for a State Question on the 2012 ballot that would do away with affirmative action.

But it was the process of voting and efforts to keep people out of voting booths that seemed to most concern Batchelder.

“There is a conscious conspiracy to suppress the number of people who vote,” via computer touch-screen voting, Batchelder said.

Surprisingly, few noted the ongoing wars, including the latest war involving troops going to the African nation of Uganda, a topic we reported on yesterday.

Criticized by conservatives as being a Marxist-led operation, it was interesting to note that when Occupy OKC’s outspoken Beth Isbell said “We do not want economic redistribution, we want opportunity redistribution,” this was met with loud scoffing from a group of young people who shouted back, “But we’re socialists!”

Isbell did not respond, rather, she continued to read off a list of concerns, observations and grievances she – part of the 99 percent, of course – had. This included “corporate profits” at an all-time high, no social justice, no jobs, never-ending wars, and a bleak economic future, among others.

“The system is broken. The dream is dying. We need a solution,” Isbell said.

And while there were certainly some young, jobless "socialists" in the crowd, this reporter talked at length with a self-described "blue collar man" who is a "conservative/libertarian." Those in the crowd really ran across the political spectrum.

One man, calling himself “Shane” and giving his age as 35, grabbed the microphone and first pointed how his wearing a button-down shirt and tie and said that when they see people dressed like hippies who play bongo drums, they don’t get scared. But they do get scared when they look down from their office tower window and see guys like him occupying the park.

Shane called for more minorities at what has so far  been largely a young and white movement.

Shane also said that the Kerr Park occupation was “a great start” but that more needed to be done, actions needed to be organized at places like the exclusive, PGA-friendly Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa.

“We need to make it hard for them to make that putt!” thundered Shane, a statement that was met with a few cheers from those in the amphitheatre.

Others were appalled by Oklahoma’s oppressive prison system and drug laws. Another, a self-described “hippie,” said she had little use for the mainstream media, calling them “utterly useless.”

And it was interesting to note that only one professional video camera was seen at Kerr Park.

Holding a sign that was mostly in Spanish and calling for “economic change,” Noe Rendon, of Moore, said he came up to the Occupy OKC event because he sees the Occupy events as the people’s answer to a global problem.

“Look at Italy, at Spain, at the Greek peoples,” Rendon said. “We are in global, economic collapse. They don’t care about the people when they call for these austerity measures. My main concern is that we stop all these greedy people from taking away from the people.”

Occupy OKC continues to mold and shape their all-encompassing message. As one sign seen at the park read, there are many things they hope to stop: the wars, the corruption, the torture, the assassinations, spying on Americans, the monopolies, the bailouts, corporate welfare, electronic voting and much, much more.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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