Occupy Movement Comes to Claremont

By Megan Petersen ’15, Copy Editor

On Sept. 17, protesters angry about what they call a broken economic system descended on Wall Street in order to make their frustrations known. Two months later, the protesters are still camped out—albeit without their tents and generators as of Tuesday night—in Zuccotti Park in New York City. The movement has spread to over 100 cities in the United States and 1,500 cities worldwide.

Claremont is one of those many cities, sporting two groups with the same idea. One is a 5C group based out of Pitzer College, and the other is a group comprised of students in Claremont High School (CHS).

The 5C group, according to a Pitzer freshman, who came about because of the number of students commuting to the movement in Los Angeles. “We felt we needed to form a base here,” said a Pitzer freshman, who noted that the group needed to tread carefully in its plans because “Claremont is not as liberal as its students.” But the group is still active. Members of the Claremont group did show up and support an occupation in Pomona, Calif. last weekend. Isael Gonzales Goodman (PZ ‘14) said an actual occupation is in the works for next semester. They are also planning a teach-in before Condoleezza Rice’s visit to Claremont McKenna College on Nov. 30. Jade said the group has no official leader—the meetings are chaired by a different, appointed member each time—in order to keep it as group-based as possible.

The group at CHS is spearheaded by two students, Yousuf Hafuda and Misha Ridnisbacher, who are planning a protest march for Saturday, Nov. 19, beginning at Memorial Park at 12 p.m. and moving through the Claremont Village. Hadufa, who said that the group has worked with two teachers at CHS and the CHS Democrat Club, said that the protest is a “one-time event intended for people to get their voices heard and will not be continuing as a full Occupy movement.” Hafuda said that at least 50 protesters were expected on Saturday.

The two groups had similar sources of disgruntlement. “I’m an economics major, and I just think the system right now is so complicated and messed up,” said Ojan Mobedshahi (PZ ‘12).

“We need to reevaluate our values.” Hafuda said, expressing support for the movement’s main ideals: “Basically, that the level of economic and political injustice in the United States has transcended levels of normalcy,” he said.

But there is no singular goal or course of action among those involved. “Our government doesn’t give anybody an equal chance,” Gonzales Goodman said. “I want free education and free health care. People can say what they want about issues with welfare and things like that, but everyone should be given a fair opportunity.”

The Occupy movement is notorious among the media for being unclear about its positions and goals; Noah Stanton (PO ‘15) said that his experience at Occupy LA both confirmed and refuted that suspicion. “There is no doubt that protesters were diverse in their wants,” Stanton said, noting that he met communists, anarchists, socialists and libertarians, among others. “But on that march, the mass of people felt anything but disjoint. ...Everyone there wanted one thing: equal opportunity.”

Another major criticism for the movement is that it is not “occupying” the place it is actually supposed to be occupying: Congress. Furthermore, police in many areas are cracking down on movements and evicting the residents of tent cities popping up in various locations. The original Occupy group in Zuccotti Park was evicted by police Tuesday night and allowed to return without their tents and generators. Police arrested protesters who resisted police orders to leave the encampment in parks in Portland, Ore. Similar evictions and police interventions occurred in Chapel Hill, N.C., Salt Lake City, Utah, Albany, N.Y., Denver. Colo. and San Francisco, Calif. in recent weeks.

Hafuda expressed a disgust for coverage of the movement, saying that the media was not covering the movement enough and was often overly-critical in its coverage.

Though the future and effects of the international Occupy movement are still unclear, the movement in Claremont is still in its development stages.

For more information, the 5C Occupy Movement has General Assembly meetings in the Huerta Room at the Gold Student Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. E-mail occupyclaremont@aol. com. For more information about the CHS movement, contact Yousuf Hafuda at yousuf_hafuda@yahoo.com.