On Saturday, Nov. 5, Bloomsburg got occupied. In front of the town fountain, a dozen or so occupants met early in the afternoon in what might be called the next step of the occupy movement – small town involvement. There was no clear time set for the end of the day’s protest, but it was clear that the occupants did not expect to stay overnight. The demographics of Occupy Bloomsburg’s participants are widely dispersed, and about half of the congregation was made up of college-aged individuals.
When asked, the protesters were in no way embarrassed to say that there was no direct leadership and almost no local organization. Each one had their own reasons for being there.
Jessica Barry, a BU student and protestor, took it upon herself to bring handouts encompassing the Occupy Movement’s “List of Grievances” and a list of other websites for information on the Occupy Movement though there was no true central organization to this local movement, many participants made their own headway by making the first steps to a local movement. One participant made the Facebook page (facebook.com/groups/OccupyBloomsburg), one made the @OccupyBloomPA Twitter account, one brought the literature, one brought cardboard and markers.
Some of the participants see this as a test-run for the Bloomsburg area. If they receive much support then they will organize another –larger– event.
Barry sees this as the “next step” in the Occupy Movement where smaller protests will take place at the local level that could potentially put more direct pressure on litigators.
The official Occupy declaration is that they are assembling peaceably over issues ranging from the housing crisis to Government mismanagement both fiscally and in foreign affairs.
Their concerns go on, the student-aged Occupants here in Bloomsburg answered with issues like the wealth distribution gap, unemployment rates, education costs and loan consolidation, and Citizens United when asked what made them join the movement.
One thing that has come to light is that this movement is very mosaic, with military, teachers, firefighters, students, and political activists all working towards some common goals.
Protestor Janelle Dowkus feels that mixed backgrounds create a “broad perspective” for the movement, enabling them to create a substantial platform for change. There is a downside though.
“We need to come to an agreement,” Dowkus said about the leadership of the movement, “so that people see that we can stand as one.”
Occupy Bloomsburg seems to have accomplished their first task; Raise Awareness.