Temple students made their presence at the start of Occupy Philadelphia.
Since they started three weeks ago, the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations have spawned similar protests across the country, connecting Americans with a diverse list of grievances under an umbrella movement.
At about 9 a.m. today, Oct. 6, citizens took to City Hall in Center City for Occupy Philadelphia, an organized effort equipped with pro-bono lawyers, facilitators and committees charged with handling food, medical services and daycare, among other things.
The demonstration, largely against wealth inequalities and what protestors call corporate greed, was home to sign-wielding activists, many of which were decrying the wealth of the top one percent of households and the economic hardships of average Americans.
Facilitators at the event frequently reminded protestors to remain peaceful and that city officials were on their side.
While the demonstration in New York City has yielded many arrests and cases of violence, no arrests or citations had been given as of 7:30 p.m. tonight, according to an email from Lieutenant Raymond Evers, commanding officer of the Philadelphia Police Department’s office of public affairs.
Temple students in the crowd sported university gear, marking a clear presence at the start of the event.
Sean Monahan, a first-year political science graduate student, said the last 40 years of American history have been a “sad story for the average person.”
“Good paying jobs have been on the decline, debt has been on the rise, student debt has been on the rise for people like us,” Monahan said. “It’s harder and harder to find jobs and, really, the corporations have just been getting richer and richer and getting more and more power over the government, over everything. And so it’s time to stop that before it goes any further.”
Ann Matthew, a freshman urban studies major, said it was her first time participating in a protest, alongside freshman sports management major Laura Martin.
“I’m out here to support anti-capitalism,” Martin said.
Matthew and Martin said they wouldn’t be camping out with the crowds but said they skipped class to attend the start of the demonstration.
“When I heard Occupy Philadelphia was [starting,] I immediately dropped all my classes and came down here,” Jake Berman, a freshman university studies major, said. “My friend got arrested in the Occupy Wall Street protests. It’s a noble cause to get arrested for.”
The diverse list of causes was an attraction for some students to get involved in Occupy Philadelphia.
“What I like is that there are a lot of directions that this can go in, there’s so many different types of groups here,” Evan Hoskins, a sophomore history and Russian major.
Hoskins is a member of Temple Democratic Socialists, a group present at the action.
Hoskins said he was interested to see the objectives and goals that will come out of the assembly.
“I’m really excited to see what happens in terms of what we decide to say that we want. I think that’s why as socialists we need to be here and really try to push that in a socialist direction,” Hoskins said.
“I’m a Temple student…there’s a huge industry that makes money off the suffering of student [loans] and exploits [students,]” Donald Hopkins, a senior philosophy major, said.
Hopkins cited state budget cuts as one of many reasons he was taking part in Occupy Philadelphia. He added that he’ll be at City Hall for the protests as much as possible.
“I think it’s worth it [to skip class] once in a while,” Hopkins said. “People have made bigger sacrifices.”
For some students, though, the event offered an experiential education.
“I’m more of an observer than a protester,” Allison Schumacher, a freshman international business major, said. “A lot of views expressed here aren’t necessarily my own but I did want to come down and maybe see what the other side thinks.”
“Occupy Philadelphia is actually relevant to a few of my classes,” Schumacher said. “It is kind of a learning experience.”
Angelo Fichera and Kate Kelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a longer, expanded version of this story, pick up The Temple News on Tuesday, Oct. 11.
Video shot/edited by Angelo Fichera. Voiceover by Kierra Bussey.