by April Foster
Members of the Occupy Boise group took to Boise's downtown again on Wednesday, greater in number and larger in voice, deriding what they called "greed, corporate power and government corruption."
Wednesday's evening rush hour was serenaded by chants of, “Tell me what democracy looks like: this is what democracy looks like,” “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out,” and “We are the 99 percent.”
This was the group’s second march, and was noticeably bigger than the last one. At around 500 people, the protesters were able to draw the attention of pedestrians, commuters, and local businesses as they passed by.
“I think the main thing is to raise awareness,” said 58-year-old Shannon Commers, a substance abuse counselor. “The people have to be aware that there is a problem and that it’s up to all of us to be a part of the solution.”
“If you are the average American and you don’t recognize that there is something wrong with the way the system is run right now, then I encourage you to come to one of our events, or educate yourself, to really see that the government and private corporations don’t have the people’s best interests at heart,” said Sara Cramer, a 22-year-old deli worker.
Occupy Boise is part of the Occupy Together movement, which was spurred by the September 17 Occupy Wall Street protest. Protests continue on Wall Street and have now spread to more than 1,000 cities and towns across the nation.
Originally the protesters planned to march from the Anne Frank Memorial through the city and up to the Capitol Building. Their plans changed when the Boise City Police informed them that they did not have enough manpower to block the streets for the planned route. Protesters complained that they had submitted the necessary paperwork to City Hall, and that they were being unfairly treated. The group changed its original plans, and ended up marching back and forth on the sidewalks downtown.
The common theme of the Occupy protests is a frustration with corporate influence in politics. Protesters claim that the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans controls a disproportionate amount of the nation’s wealth, and that the other 99 percent of the country needs to come together and pressure politicians to enact systemic reforms that level the playing field.
“The people are frustrated with how 1 percent seems to call the shots and the other 99 percent are ignored,” said Steve Walker, a 57-year-old caregiver.
“It’s the system we’re inheriting and that we have to live in,” said Evan Bashir, a 23-year-old Boise State student. “As much as we want to be individuals, we’re affected by the system that we’re in. We need both the 99 percent and the 1 percent to realize that. They need to realize that we’re all in this together. I hate to sound so idealistic, but there is a relationship that needs to be balanced, and right now it’s unbalanced.”