I have never seen so much hatred for a group of Americans attempting to exercise their Constitutional rights. The right to assemble, to protest peacefully when you feel wronged, is a fundamental right we, as Americans, have partaken in since before the founding of this nation. Protesting has never been popular, but it is a right we are allowed to exercise. The funny part is many of those calling for the Constitution to be upheld, are also part of the people against the Occupy movement.

Everywhere I go; the classroom, on campus, even on the bus, I hear people misquoting things about the protesters. While I have tried to correct some of them, others become argumentative, and obviously have little to no understanding of what this movement is about. For the sake of time, I have decided to include some of the answers to the questions I have heard people asking or corrections to the misquoting people are doing, as an attempt to denigrate the Occupy movement.

Occupy Dayton Tent Image - Solidarity

1. Occupy Protesters Need to Get a Job or Go to School!

This one is kind of ridiculous. A lot of protesters are college students, already. Many also have jobs. Most of the people I have spoken to, who have been organizing Occupy Dayton are actually going from their jobs to the Occupy site. They work in shifts so that those who have work or other obligations, can attend to their obligations. Both Ashtyn and I have been protesting. Ashtyn has a job. I have a small on-campus job working for Student Government and I am a full time student. Yes, there are many people who are unemployed who are protesting, but unemployment levels have skyrocketed, so to assume that the unemployed will not be protesting would be naive. These people WANT jobs. Many of them actually have college degrees. Some are even considering leaving the U.S. if they cannot find a job soon, as there may be more work opportunities abroad.

2. The Occupy Protesters want to punish hardworking, rich Americans.

The whole 99% movement is geared more towards the wealthy corporations and not the people. I, personally, do not feel it is prudent to punish a hardworking American, especially one who has pulled themselves up from the bootstraps to make themselves a decent living. The corporations and politicians who are all quite wealthy are what the majority of people in the Occupy movement are protesting. We believe that it is not fair to force small business owners to pay excessive taxes while the upper 1% of corporations often do not pay a CENT in taxes. They get write-offs and many have special interest deals with Washington.

General Electric has not paid any taxes. Goldman Sachs, Bank of America. All of the banks we bailed out with our taxpayer dollars have turned their faltering businesses around. They are making millions, if not billions. Instead of paying back the money they were given, or at least paying taxes on their current income, these corporations are able to get tax exemptions and have used their money to give their upper management bonuses, buy exorbitantly priced gifts like corporate jets, and have spent their second chance dollars irresponsibly.

I should also mention that many individuals who make a lot of money say they would gladly pay extra taxes to help other Americans. However, this is not happening, nor are they the group of people we are targeting with our protests. It seems unfair to have middle class Americans paying over 20% of their income and the businesses that can afford to pay a lot more money than any other business are paying 0% of their income. This is part of why people are protesting.

Occupy Dayton Protest Sign

3. The protesters are a bunch of whiny, trust-fund kids with no motivation. They live in their parents’ basements and have no idea what being self-sufficient means.

I wish I was a trust fund kid, because I would have plenty of money to have all of the things I want and need. If I had a trust fund, I’d also have a lot more money to help others out. While I have met a few people who still live with their parents, as students or because they lost their jobs and are trying to get back on their feet, the majority of protesters have their own homes, put themselves through school, are currently in school (on their own), are working a job or jobs, or have been laid off and are trying to find a job. Of those still living with family, most of them have lived on their own and have earned their own way, at some point.

Yes, some people have money and jobs that are supporting this movement, but that is because they see what the rich are doing to eliminate the middle class. These people want something to change for others. They know how lucky they are to have health insurance, food, shelter, and to live with no fear of having their house, car or other property repossessed. They stand in solidarity with the 99%.

4. The Occupy Movement is disorganized and has no real goals.

This is inaccurate. Yes, when things first started happening there was a bit of disorganization. Any new organizational effort has its bumps it must overcome. However, at least in my own area, I have watched this go from a group of people meeting up with similar goals into a full-fledged movement with united goals and solid ideas on how to implement these protests. There are specific things the Occupy Dayton movement hopes to accomplish. These include enacting legislation that will punish those involved in white collar crime, closing tax loopholes, and preventing politicians from mutually profiting by being held in the pockets of corporations.

5. The Occupy movement is anti-Semitic, anti-Republican, and anti-Capitalism.

We’ve all seen the video of the Wall Street protester who was saying anti-Semitic things, in spite of claiming to be a Jew himself. I have to tell you that every movement has its fringe group members, who show up to cause trouble or whose goals do not fit with the majority of those assembled. We see this at Tea Party rallies a lot. How many times have we heard Tea Partiers swear they are not like the racist guy at their rallies or the anti-veterans, anti-disability rights assholes who make their entire group look like a bunch of douche-bags? The media searches for these kinds of idiots to interview because it makes for far more interesting journalism. However, the vast majority of protesters are about equality, peace, and unity. Racism, Antisemitism, etc. all go against the entire purpose of this movement.

The anti-Republican claims are unsubstantiated. Many of us blame ALL of the politicians. This is not a rally in support of Obama or any other politician. Occupy transcends political parties to bring together Liberals, Conservatives, Libertarians, Republicans, Tea Partiers, Democrats, Socialists, Anarchists, Independents. You name it, the political group is represented. This also means that not everyone is anti-Capitalism. The capitalist-esque system is not being utilized properly and therefore it is not working. Many Occupying WANT to fix the system. Yes, some people hate capitalism, but most of us understand it is not going anywhere.

Occupy ___________ is about standing up as Americans and letting our voices be heard. If that is un-American I do not know what being American means and I would be disappointed to be a part of such a country.

[tags]Occupy, Protesters, Wall Street, Misconceptions, List, Protest, Rally, Dayton, Ohio, America, Americans, Liberty, Occupy Movement[/tags]

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