Occupy Moore Allows Folks to 'Make a Point'
The Occupy Moore demonstration in downtown Southern Pines on Saturday gave Ron Davis the perfect opportunity to educate Matthew Bines about the First Amendment.
Davis, 82, of Pinehurst, mentors Bines, 13, of Aberdeen, in the Moore Buddies program.
“We’re here exercising free speech, and that’s why I got him out here,” said Davis who held a sign that said “Impeach Congress” on one side and “Bring Troops Home” on the other. “It’s a good learning experience for him.”
Davis added that he feels the United States is “broken.”
“I think our Congress is ridiculous and has become ineffective,” he said. “I also think we spend too much money trying to rule the world, and I’m a former fighter pilot. We need to get our troops from all over the world, not just the Middle East, back home.”
Bines, an eighth-grader at Southern Middle School, held a sign that said “Improve Schools.”
“I think we should get rid of No Chil Left Behind,” Bines said. “We shouldn’t just pass kids from one grade to the next just to move them along.”
Davis and Bines were among about 40 early participants in the daylong nonpartisan demonstration, which was modeled after the protests in New York and originally dubbed “Occupy Broad Street.”
Sam Dreher, of Vass, handed out placards titled “Don’t confuse capitalism with socialism.” On the back, Dreher listed books, articles and a documentary film as “suggested reading and viewing.”
“Things are going on in this country that are wrong, and here I am,” Dreher said. “It has nothing to do with any political agenda.”
Bonnie Klein, of Whispering Pines, was one of several women at the demonstration wearing a “Free Hugs” placard.
“A friend of mine sent me a YouTube video of the ‘Free Hugs’ movement, which started in Italy,” Klein said. “That was just a few days ago, and this morning I made these signs.”
Klein said the message is to “love your fellow man.”
“There’s enough of everything to go around as soon as there’s love,” she said. “If we were all loving, we wouldn’t be in the situation we’re in today.”
Organizers began setting up for the nonpartisan event at 9 a.m., two hours before its scheduled start.
“This is far from civil disobedience,” said Kevin A. Smith, who signed the permit application submitted by event organizers. “We’re just here to make a point and start a conversation. This is about a broken system. The current system is not sustainable, so it should be addressed in the best way possible.”
While much of the discussion Saturday focused on the disparity between the wealthiest 1 percent of the U.S. population versus “the other 99 percent of us,” Smith acknowledged that Moore County nonprofits benefit greatly from the upper class.
“The nearly 600 nonprofits in our county would be lost without the financial support from the top people,” he said. “What these wealthier folks do is not only commendable, it’s essential.”
Jim Heim, chairman of the Moore County Democratic Party, said he helped gather facts and figures for the event.
“This is, in no way, a Democratic function,” Heim said. “This is a vibrant nonpartisan movement. I’m just here as a liberal. I’ve been working hard to help. I’m just here to assist and watch the fun.”
The figures that Heim collected included a graph showing that from 2007-2009, home equity dropped 35 percent, unemployment rose 102 percent, and Wall Street profits skyrocketed 720 percent.
“It’s pretty sobering stuff,” he said.
Occupy Moore included an education panel, music and presentations on various topics. Organizers even scheduled “quiet time” from 1 to 1:30 p.m. so the carriage and buggy parade could proceed unimpeded through downtown Southern Pines.
O’Linda W. Gillis, president of the Moore County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, talked about voter suppression and the Historical Thousands on Jones Street march Feb. 11 in Raleigh.
“I’m going to keep on marching, marching down the freedom way,” Gillis said. “I am glad to join you today to be part of this nonviolent and peaceful movement.”
Gillis also read a position statement on the Occupy Wall Street movement from Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP.
“The NAACP is encouraged by the broad national support and by the great diversity of Americans who have been participating in the Occupy Wall Street campaign,” the statement said. “The movement and the peaceful protestors who are part of the campaign seem to share many of the same goals as the NAACP.”
Jealous said NAACP branches across the country have been encouraged to work with local Occupy groups to “nonviolently advocate for policies, which will improve economic conditions for all Americans consistent with NAACP priorities.”
Smith said momentum for the downtown Southern Pines event started gathering in October after someone wrote the following sentence on his Facebook page: “Occupy Broad Street?”
A group of 10 people held an initial meeting soon after, followed by a second meeting last month.
Occupy Wall Street began Sept. 17 in the financial district of New York City. That protest inspired demonstrations in more than 1,600 cities.
Participants are mainly protesting social and economic inequality, corporate greed and corruption.
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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