Dozens of people gathered in Monument Square yesterday, braving the rain to call for financial accountability, an end to corporate greed and to express solidarity with the ongoing Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City.
According to the website for Occupy Wall Street, the protest is a “leaderless resistance movement…that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 percent.”
Protesters in Monument Square ranged widely in age and included a number of USM students. “I’m here to be part of this giant social movement,” said senior sociology major Travis Bonpietro, who showed up with red, white and blue face paint and a long pole with an American flag attached. Bonpietro said he was angry about wealth disparity in the United States. “Wealth shouldn’t be controlled by 1 percent of the population,” he said.
The protesters, both on Wall Street and in Portland, have made a list of national and local demands, including increased financial regulation, and end to corporate personhood and discounted heating oil for Mainers. Common themes at the protests include frustration with the current economic situation and the lack of repercussions for those they see as causing it. Many signs seen Saturday in Portland referred to the “1 percent” — the elite seen by the demonstrators as controlling banks and wealth, and to the “99 percent” — the majority with which protesters have identified themselves.
Seeking to mimic the tactics of the Arab Spring protests this year, the Occupy Wall Street and OccupyMaine protests have had a large internet and social media presence. Tyler Noddin, a social work major at USM said he found out about the rally Saturday through the event’s Facebook page.
“I want to see reform,” said Noddin. “I want to see big business out of politics.”