Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 5:32 PM on Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Occupy Homer joins world protest

By Michael Armstrong
Staff Writer


Photographer: Michael Armstrong, Homer News

About 60 people with Occupy Homer demonstrated last Saturday at WKFL Park as part of international United for Global Change protests held on Oct. 15.

A social protest movement that started last month at Wall Street, New York, made its appearance on Saturday in Homer. About 60 people participated in a rally at WKFL Park on Oct. 15 as part of international United for Global Change demonstrations held in about 1,000 cities in 80 countries, according to United for Global Change's website.

"We're here at the end of the road and we support you," Gabyrelle Damro said in reference to Occupy Wall Street and of her reason for being at the Homer rally. Damro and her husband Jeremiah Emmerson helped put out the word on the Occupy Homer demonstration through Facebook and other social media.

Occupy Homer had no specific message, and like the Occupy Wall Street and other similar demonstrations, no list of demands. A list posted on the WKFL gazebo laid out its general nonviolent principles, such as not carrying weapons, not vandalizing property, not using alcohol and illegal drugs, not assaulting opponents and showing respect for police, military and counter demonstrators.

Its general theme was of social inequality and the concentration of wealth in the top 1 percent of America — defined as those making more than $1.1 million annually, according to one poster at the event.

Handpainted signs on cut-up cardboard boxes expressed a wide variety of opinions: "Invest locally," "Banks got bailed out. We got sold out," "Revolution," "The people are too big to fail," "Compassion not cash makes the world go around" and "Save the middle class."

Inspired by the United for Global Change action, Emmerson set up an Occupy Homer Facebook event page. He sent event notices to his Facebook friends, and they sent notices to their circles.

"Everybody just jumped on board," Emmerson said. "It just blew up."

The Occupy Wall Street model uses the town meeting system, called general assemblies, to organize. A general assembly was held Saturday at the end of the rally to organize further.

"We're just trying to get people talking about ideas out there," Damro said.

One idea Lindianne Sarno suggested was creating a micro loan program to help small businesses get started. Kevin Kreitz held a sign suggesting putting money in local banks and credit unions and taking it out of national banks. Peggy Ellen Kleinleder held a sign that said, "Invest locally," an idea Emmerson said he'd heard others get behind.

"We need to be investing more money locally," he said. "A lot of the money goes out of state."

Occupy Homer plans further events and general assembly meetings this weekend. At noon Saturday protesters plan to demonstrate on a stretch of city land at the side of the Sterling Highway by Public Works and the Animal Shelter and across the street from Homer's two commercial banks, Wells Fargo and First National Bank Alaska. Emmerson said a general assembly meeting will follow at 2 p.m. at 355 W. Pioneer Ave.

"I don't even know specifically what needs to be done," Emmerson said. "I just want to be part of it."

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael. armstrong@homernews.com.