"Occupy Columbus" Brings Protesters To Statehouse Square
Protests that started near New York's financial district three weeks ago have spread to Columbus.Â Demonstrators occupied a portion of sidewalk in front of the statehouse for most of the Monday holiday.Â The Ohio Highway patrol says a group of about ten protesters stayed overnight.Â As WOSU's Tom Borgerding reports, the group mixed its media and its message during the first day of protests. Many of the demonstrators carried cardboard signs while they updated their twitter posts and facebook feeds.Â Wolfgang Parker'sÂ sign read "people over profits."Â He says he turned out to protest corporate involvement in government . "I'm not against capitalism in any way or free market system." Says Parker. "I believe in it. I'm an artist so I use it myself. But, I think there's a breakdown of ethics." Parker says he fears the private sector more than he fears what he calls a 'broke government."Â Â Â Other protesters cite special interests influence on elected officials.Â Â But, theÂ "Occupy"Â groups in Columbus and other cities appear to lack a leadership structure.Â Alex Corwin, a social worker, saysÂ an organizational structureÂ will evolve. "Organization is always tough. When you're talking about 99 percent of the people, you're talking about alot of different demographics. You're talking about all kinds of races, all kind of poverty, all kind of middle class, working class. It takes a while to get people organized." Corwin, Parker and others interviewed by WOSU insist the "Occupy" protests are non-partisan.Â Â 26 year old Annabel Coca and 21 year old Victoria McDonald both say they were inspired byÂ protests in other cities. Coca is a private school teacher, McDonald is a student who spent the summer canvassingÂ neighborhoods for an advocacy group opposed to corn subsidies. "There's just a lot of apathy or has been alot of apathy and just helplessness. And, that really touched me this summer and that's why I'm so happy. "Â McDonald says.Â "This is my very first time with this movement and I think its that I was inspired by the movement in New York City that people are on their own." Says Coca. About an hour into the protest on Monday, an older gentleman showed upÂ in a black tuxedo, a bow tie,Â and fake one-hundred dollar bills stuffed in the brim of his tophat. "Well, my name is Greedy Van Heartless. There's a guy that looks alot like me named Steve Turner." TurnerÂ is a retired teacher, he first participated in a statehouse protest in 1965. He came backÂ to statehouse square, he says, to provide some humor andÂ "make some noise to get things changed." ....in a non-partisan way. "Well, I'm not a leader or anythingÂ but I don't think its really partisan except the republicans tend to be on the other side." The 'Occupy Columbus" group will meet later today to discuss future activities.Â The Ohio Highway patrol says this morning that a group of about ten protesters spent the night on the High Street sidewalk in front of the statehouse. Click here for more pictures from Monday's protest.