OccupyMN – Who are the 99%?

The 99%.  If you ask demonstrators at the OccupyMN protest, they’ll tell you that’s who they are.   They say they are frustrated with a system of government that ignores the majority voice (the 99% of America) in favor of the richest 1%. They are angry with corporate influence on our government, tired of their standard of living dropping, and energized to do something about it.  What that something is, isn’t yet known, but they are talking over possible solutions.

Today the OccupyMN demonstration kicked off with speakers, a march to the Federal Reserve building, drumming, and approximately 400 demonstrators.  PNC-Minnesota spent most of the day at the Hennepin County Government Plaza in downtown Minneapolis.  We wanted to find out who the 99% are.  Media outlets and political pundits have categorized the protestors as trust-fund college students, union members, or out of work hippies, but does that perception match reality?

There are two ways to describe who the 99% are – traditional demographics or a more experiential approach.  Both have their advantages and disadvantages so we present both.

Experiential:

Demographics*
Some of the demographics may surprise you. The protesters are most likely in their early 20’s to mid-30’s, male, college educated, and employed. Although 35% said they were DFLers, very few were happy with the party of their choice. No one I spoke to said they supported the GOP. While 36% bring in less than $25,000 in household income, 43% of the demonstrators are in the richest 25% percentile.

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OccupyMN starts today

OccupyMN, our state’s version of Occupy Wall Street, kicks off today at the Hennepin County Government Plaza. The Occupy movement is a grassroots protest which began in New York City and has now spread to cities across our nation.  The movement says  they represent the “99%,” those income earners who make less than $380,000 per year in household income.

OccupyMN:  Facebook, Website
Protest address: Government Plaza, 352 S 5th Ave, Minneapolis, MN
Today’s Schedule:  9am – Event Begins
9am to 12pm – Set Up
12pm to 5pm Workshops/Lunch
5pm – Welcoming Celebration & Rally
7pm – Opening General Assembly
11pm – Plaza Quiet Hours
Live feed of the protest:
here

LaDonna Redmond, a co-organizer of OccupyMN released this statement in a press release, “Today we are renaming Government Plaza ‘The People’s Plaza’. We intend to stay indefinitely and we welcome all Minnesotans to join us. If you are struggling; if have lost your job, or your home; if you have seen your child unjustly incarcerated; if you are homeless, living without healthcare, or drowning in debt; if you work full time but still are unable to afford food to feed your family; if you feel no one is listening to you; if you are fed up with the direction this country is going in — then you are one of the 99%. We are talking to you. Come and join us! This is your chance to be heard.”

The New York City Occupy Wall Street General Assembly is working on a document they call the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City.  The declaration is a list of grievances that cover a wide range of issues including economic abuses, discrimination, animal rights, the high cost of college tuition, and American colonialism.  As of yet, the groups have no demands.  Organizers say that’s the purpose of the protests, to allow the 99% to come together and formulate solutions to what they see as societal problems.   This is in contrast to what they say usually happens, the richest, most powerful 1% in this country make decisions that benefit them at the expense of the other 99%.  The Occupy movement says it is not political Left vs political Right, Liberal vs Conservative, or Democrat vs Republican, but is open to all the 99%.

Although there is no official ‘Pagan Cluster’ similar to Washington DC’s Occupy protest, several local Pagans plan to attend.  PNC is providing coverage of this protest, as we have covered other protests that have attracted the attention of the Pagan community, such as the union protests in Wisconsin and the Tea Party protests.  We will link to other PNC bureau coverage and PNC-Minnesota will be at the protests in Minneapolis.