Stillwater News Press

October 28, 2011

Occupy OSU Stillwater group heads to Oklahoma Capitol for weekend demonstration

By Silas Allen

STILLWATER, Okla. — Anti-Wall Street protesters will be gathering at statehouses nationwide Saturday, and a group of Oklahoma State University students will be among them.

Several members of Occupy OSU, a fledgling student organization formed in response to the Occupy Wall Street protests, are planning to take part in Occupy Your Capitol, a nationwide effort to stage demonstrations at capitol buildings in all 50 states.

Although Occupy Your Capitol officially only includes U.S. states, Occupy OSU member Ryan Nelson said it could easily spread beyond the nation’s borders. Occupy Wall Street-inspired demonstrations have already been held in a number of cities abroad, including Rome, Dublin, London and Sydney.

“It’s kind of a global call to action,” Nelson said.

The OSU group will be joining other Occupy groups from across the state, including Oklahoma City, Tulsa and the University of Oklahoma, Nelson said.

Occupy OKC leaders announced this week that the weekend’s demonstration will include a protest march from Oklahoma City’s Kerr Park to the state capitol building at 11:30 a.m. Saturday. The group will also hold a candlelight vigil at 8 p.m. Sunday to honor first responders and war veterans.

The demonstration won’t be the first Oklahoma has seen. According to Associated Press reports, about 40 people assembled Tuesday at a downtown Oklahoma City park and drew up posters that condemned what they described as corporate greed and the gap between rich and poor, including signs that read “Privatized Gains(equals)Socialized Loss,” “More Humanity, Less Corporate Greed” and “Workers Rights Are Human Rights.”

Group member Ivan Ponce De Leon said the OSU group is unique among the state’s Occupy organizations, mainly because of its small size. The group primarily supports larger organizations in Oklahoma by bringing them supplies and lending their numbers to larger demonstrations, he said.

Ponce De Leon said there may still be potential for the group to stage events of its own in Stillwater. Those events would likely be for a single day rather than stretching out over the course of days or weeks, he said. Because the group is largely made up of college students, he said, members’ schedules typically don’t allow them to devote as much time to protest campaigns.

Nelson said the group is already considering staging an event in Stillwater. Group members and others have shown interest in such an event, he said. While the event would most likely be small in scale, he said, it could help the movement grow.

“That’s no different than how Occupy Wall Street got started on the 17th of September,” he said.

Group member Holli Kyker said she plans to be at the demonstration in Oklahoma City. The movement is important, she said, because it gives voice to a group that often goes unrepresented in Oklahoma. Because Oklahoma is largely conservative, she said, its more liberal residents often feel left out of the political process.

Austin Elledge, another member of the group, said the demonstration is a means of showing dissatisfaction with the political and social climate in the country. Up to now, he said, that dissatisfaction has been expressed through the traditional means, but it has largely gone unheard. Demonstrations are a way of making it clear that Americans are more than just consumers, he said — they’re interested in reshaping the political and social landscape.

“This is what we have to do now,” he said. “I don’t think anybody’s listening to us anymore.”