A crowd of more than 70 people gathered along 3rd Street on Oct. 13, forming an Occupy McMinnville protest.
A Linfield alumna organized the event as a chance for locals to stand up for their beliefs and show their support for protestors from larger cities who are still posted in major metropolitan streets.
Cheryl Hockaday, class of ’88, said she organized the event to empower citizens by giving them a place to express their opinions about corporate greed.
She said that the Occupy McMinnville demonstration was to support protestors from larger cities, such as New York and Portland, who are still posted in streets and parks.
“Even though it seems like a small town’s protest doesn’t get much attention, it is still an important symbol of what we believe,” Hockaday said. “We have to be willing to support those protestors who are in the trenches day and night. They have to know that they are not alone, even if we can’t physically be there.”
Hockaday, a small business owner in the community, said she had already received criticism for heading up the protests and that some locals didn’t understand why she decided to join the Occupy movement.
“It’s hard to step out and take risks and be counted,” Hockaday said.
Other community members said that they joined the demonstration to draw attention to problems they see growing, from economic inequality to the influence of wealth on corporations and government.
Joe Munger, who has been a still worker for 19 years and is the president of the regional labor council, said that the Occupy protest seemed like a natural demonstration for him to join.
“I impact 9,000 union members from 22 unions, so raising concerns about taxes and big corporations is an important thing for me to do,” Munger said.
Another protestor, 19-year-old Cameron Baldwin, said that he graduated high school but is homeless and doesn’t have a job or health insurance. His situation isn’t uncommon for many people his age, he said.
“The way this country is headed, the 99 percent will be dead and the one percent will have nothing left,” Baldwin said.
While the Occupy demonstrations have been called disorganized and scattered, Munger said he thought that they mainly appeared disjoined to the public eye because of the wide array of active and involved protestors.
“These protests cast a wide net,” Munger said. “They’ve gotten attention from conservatives, liberals, older people and younger people. We aren’t just protesting about one thing, but we’re all displeased with the corruption that’s going on.”
Unlike average protests, the Occupy rallies are unique because they represent people from so many different backgrounds with so many different concerns, Hockaday said.
“Every person is an individual with unique ideas and none of us hold the exact same views, but we are the same 99 percent,” she said.
Joanna Peterson/Managing editor
Joanna Peterson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.