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Occupy and its Influences

Vagilutionaries are people not corporations. Photo by Rob Sydor.
Vagilutionaries are people not corporations. Photo by Rob Sydor.

From bare breasts to ninjas with sidewalk chalk, Occupy Eugene’s camp might be gone, but its spirit lives on. And it’s not just the Occupiers who have an issue with income disparity and want to do something about it; a new group, “Empowering the 99%,” has formed, inspired by the issues raised by Occupy Wall Street.

Occupier Brett Diamond, who serves on several Occupy Eugene committees, attended the Jan. 19 gathering of Empowering the 99%, which attendees say attracted anywhere from 200 to 400 people. “Fantastic turnout for a rainy Thursday night,” Diamond says. 

The group shares many of the goals of OE such as addressing corporate money in politics but is separate, Diamond says. “The more people we can work with in order to address the problems the better.” 

Empowering the 99% took out an ad in the R-G which mentioned issues other states have successfully taken on, such as universal health care in Vermont. 

Diamond says the meeting at First United Methodist Church, which arose out of a Eugene men’s group, attracted a slightly older demographic than OE. “I don’t know what will come out of it,” Diamond says, “but I hope something does.”

Diamond says that Occupy Eugene itself is “alive and well” with an office at the Growers Market at 454 Willamette Street and space at 7th and Polk called OEV, Occupy Eugene Five, as it’s the fifth place the group has moved to. OE is planning a housewarming and volunteer fair, Diamond says. Members of OE recently participated in an Occupy Oregon general assembly in Salem and will continue to work with other Occupations across the state, he says. 

On Jan. 20 the Vagilutionaries, an OE affinity group, followed up their topless protest at Eugene City Councilor George Poling’s house with a bare-breasted protest at the U.S. Courthouse. Six masked women in black pants and rubber boots painted the letters P-E-O-P-L-E across their chests in commemoration and in protest of the 2010 Citizens United ruling that allows corporations to make unlimited donations in elections. 

A poster of a protester in black ninja garb holding a crowbar was used to advertise a Jan. 23 bank protest by OE affinity group Tango Down. The poster for the “Urban Ninja Bank March,” which took place at area banks including Chase, Bank of America and Umpqua, led some to worry the protest would be violent or lead to property damage. Chase Bank locked its doors when the ninja march approached, but the protest itself featured black-garbed and masked Occupiers, as well as dogs and children, in games of “Red Rover,” playing with bubbles and sidewalk chalk and meditation. At one point the ninjas gathered around a crowbar chanting “ommmmm.”

No arrests were made.

For more information on Empowering the 99%, call organizer Call Bill Klupenger at 206-1733. To keep up to date on OE and for listings of its community access television show go to occupyeugenemedia.org