Occupy Omaha protesters march against “corporate greed”
October 15th, 2011
Omaha, NE – Hundreds of people marched through downtown Omaha this morning, in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street protesters, who have rallied since mid-September in New York against what they call “corporate greed.”
Omaha’s crowd was a diverse mix of young and old, black, white and brown. And, like others who’ve rallied in solidarity protests around the country, their reasons for hitting the streets were varied.
Ian Carrier of Omaha said he came out in support of “peace and love” and to urge government to hold corporations accountable. “We’ve handed our elections to corporations, and it needs to stop,” he said.
Others called for an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while others held signs that read “Save our Jobs” and “End Class Warfare.”
Chelsea Richardson said she graduated with her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln last year, and hasn’t been able to find a job. The recession has impacted her and people around her, she said. “I’ve met so many people who, just short of age of retirement, are losing their jobs, and aren’t able to find anything anywhere, not to mention the economic situation of so many people in this country for years and years, not just the recession.”
“It seems like things are in shambles,” she said, “so I’m hoping we can pull together and put our heads together and figure out what to do.”
Veronica Contreras said she came out to show the diversity of the protesters. “There’s this stigma that people protesting don’t have jobs, and that we’re just hippies and that we have a political agenda, and it’s not about that,” she said. “It’s about everyone in the community coming together. We all have different religious beliefs, different political beliefs, different stances on everything, but the one thing that we’re united on is that we have a corrupt government, and we need change.”
Felina Kavi marched with her five-year-old daughter Alyrica, who held up her own sign that read “I believe in a 100% future,” a reference to the main message of the Occupy protests: that government should not reflect the wealthiest one percent of the population, and that the protesters make up the 99 percent whose voices are ignored.
Her eyes welling with tears, Kavi said of her daughter, “She’s five years old, and she believes when she grows up, everything’s going to be fine.”
“We can see how things aren’t working now and if it continues like this, it’s not going to be good for her generation,” Kavi said. “I don’t want her to have to clean up our mess, so I think it’s important that we take care of it now.” Kavi said the protests are the beginning of a “revolution.”
A few police cars lined the streets, and two mounted police officers stood by and kept watch. But the protest was peaceful, and no arrests were reported.
Bruce Baumann led the protesters, with bullhorn in hand, from outside City Hall to the Omaha branch of the Federal Reserve Bank, and then through the Old Market. But, similarly to other “Occupy” protests, Baumann insisted he is not an organizer, or leader of the group.
“There’s no leaders in this movement at all,” he said. “Each person brings something to the table. And my skill is leadership, so I just wanted to come out here with my bull horn. It wasn’t really planned at all.”
Baumann says the protesters will return to the streets next Saturday, and hope to begin the “occupy” stage of the protest soon.