Occupy Now holds courthouse rally
Dennis Hinze, left, stages an Occupy Now protest with Annie Westerbeke as the Democratic donkey and Roman Ruhnke as the Republican elephant. Photos by Jordan Clary
While the turnout for Susanville’s first Occupy Now movement was small, their commitment to getting out the message they feel there is an unbalanced distribution of wealth, not only in the United States, but globally as well, was on a grand scale.
A handful of supporters and media gathered in front of the Susanville Courthouse in an event staged to coincide with International Worker’s Day.
Dennis Hinze, the event’s organizer, employed guerrilla theater tactics to get his point across.
Posing as a wealthy banker, he whipped Annie Westerbeke, dressed as the Democratic donkey and Roman Ruhnke, posing as the Republican elephant to emphasize the tenets of the movement extend beyond party lines.
The Lassen Mic club recorded the protest, and an interview with Hinze will be shown later this month on their website, lassenmic.org.
Jordan Drury, president of Lassen Community College’s Associate Student Body Association (ASBA) would like to see Susanville’s youth become more politically active.
In a press release Hinze said, “It is highly unlikely anyone living in Lassen County is amongst the one percent of money makers in the USA. Even big ranchers and business people around here can’t come close to wealthy investors, bankers and corporate officers who make millions and stash their ill-gotten gains in offshore banks to avoid paying their fair share (of taxes). We are all in the 99 percent, so let’s develop a solidarity about it.”
Among the protesters was Jordan Drury, president of Lassen Community College’s Associated Student Body Association (ASBA). Drury said he “Believes there is a misappropriation of funds in America. The core belief of the Occupy Movement is that a small percentage of people control the majority of the wealth. And I’m here to support giving control back to the people.”
Drury said he would like to see more of Susanville’s youth become more aware and politically active.
A random survey of Lassen County residents and visitors that included a nurse, several office workers, a waitress, a computer programmer and city employees indicated that most felt the Occupy Now movement has some valid points, but what began as a noble cause has degenerated into reactive demonstrations. One of the more surprising analogies came from two separate people who referred to the Occupy Now movement as “The Tea Party of the left.” A Google search showed that others, including Josh Harkinson, a journalist for Mother Jones Magazine, see similarities between the two seemingly radically different movements.
Jared Clemens from Los Angeles said, “They’re both saying there is something seriously wrong with our country and government. The biggest difference is the Tea Party reads like something straight from Fox News, while the Occupy Movement is primarily fueled by rage at Wall Street greed gone unchecked and a Congress that has actively worked not to do anything about it.”
Rage did not seem evident in the Susanville protest, however. If anything, the mood was upbeat as Hinze, Westerbeke and Ruhnke danced on the courthouse steps.
“This is a great country,” said Hinze. “If it wasn’t for social security, people like me wouldn’t have time to come out here and try to make a difference.”
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