Baby’s — and Grandma’s — first protest

Occupy Boulder is drawing crowds from the nursery to the nursing home

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Elizabeth Miller

Occupy Boulder is shaping up to be a movement as diverse in
age as it has been in message. This Saturday’s rally saw infants in arms with
signs clamped to their fingers, and seniors, all of them to say, basically, the
status quo isn’t working out.

“I think all American are people concerned about the
stalemate and the broken government and we think the protests will shake up our
representatives in Congress,” says Zetta Feder, an 84-year-old resident at the
Academy, a local boutique retirement community. She came to the 11 a.m. rally with a group of fellow residents from the Academy, including 86-year-old Shirley
Marotta, who, despite having recently broken her arm, attended to carry a sign
that read “WPA worked.”

“The point is that we’re willing to pay the taxes or the
surtax,” Feder says. “We’re willing to invest, we’re willing to pay more in
taxes for investments in infrastructure and jobs.”

Protestors gathered at 11 a.m., following a 9 a.m. general
assembly meeting, at the corner of Broadway and Canyon to tote signs and wave
at the passing cars, earning honked horns, waving and the occasional shout of
support from passers-by.

“I have been waiting for this for years,” says Sierra Samuel,
who was positioned at the front of the crowd at the southwest corner of the
intersection and chanting with the crowd, “Corporate greed has got to go.”

“There are many, many issues at stake here,” she says. Samuel,
34, a legal receptionist and a single mother of two, says paying half her monthly
wages in childcare, which leaves her scrambling to cover the rest of her bills,
is a sign of a system in which inflation has increased faster than wages. “We’re
getting screwed royally.”

Cliff Smedley organized this week’s event. Smedley was
inspired by the Occupy Denver movement, he says, and by Michael Moore’s
appearance at Occupy Wall Street.

“We’ve been a silent majority and we need to be a vocal
majority,” says Smedley, 50, a system analyst. The movement is starting to get
into the nuts and bolts, he says, putting together committees and assembling
demands for Congress. State representative Deb Gardner and Rep. Jared Polis
were both said to have attended the event.

“I’m out here because I feel like it’s very important our
government isn’t run by corporations. That’s my biggest beef,” says Frederica
Acora, 55, who held up the other end of the “Occupy Boulder” banner with
Smedley during part of the rally. “I feel like you can’t get anything done for
the people.”

“Basically, I feel that the American political system is
essentially a hypocrisy in which the top 1 percent makes the decisions and everyone else takes the risks and suffers for their decisions,” says Sunjay Mohan, 18,
while stenciling his sign for this rally — his first. “I’d like to see the
system democratized so the people on Wall Street pay for their mistakes and not
us.”

While ringing bells, beating drums, and chanting slogans
including “The people, united, will never be divided” and “Show me what
democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like,” an estimated 150 and
220 attendees marched up Canyon before looping back toward Broadway via the
Pearl Street Mall.

By 12:30, most of the marchers had returned to the park at
Broadway and Canyon.

“I feel like it’s a movement that can’t be ignored,” says
Ilan Sherman, 36, who attended the rally after the march with his wife, Elicia
Arwen, his step-daughter, Aster Arwen, 11, and his children, Razi, 4, and Zami,
6 months.

“My daughter wanted to come. She wouldn’t stay home,”
Sherman says of Aster. “She’s looking at her future, too.”

Her biological father is in New York City and has attended
and organized food donations for Occupy Wall Street.

“He started calling me up and telling me about it, so I kind
of wanted to get into an Occupy Boulder movement, and then it started,” Aster
says. She’s into politics, she says, and read about the movement online. “For
me, I want to be able to go to college and get a good job when I get out, and
be able to pay for college. I guess I also really want everyone’s future … not
have to pay a bunch of taxes that are higher than all those corporations out
there.”

“It’s time we woke up. We’ve been asleep and they stole all
our resources, everything we worked all our lives for,” says Carol Schneider,
Ph.D., 73, a clinical psychologist specializing in brain injuries and PTSD. She’s
reached a point in her life when she expected that she would be volunteering,
not working full time.

“This is the first very first time in my life I’ve been on
the streets,” she says. “I’ll still be doing this as long as it’s going on.”

“I’m not leaving the streets until change is here,” says
Holly Bender, 56. “I’m just really glad to see all the issues coming together …
because we don’t have enough power when we’re all fragmented.”

The rallies will continue every Saturday at 11 a.m., she
says.

“We want everybody to join,” she says. “Everybody belongs
here.”

Steven Hargreaves, 59, among other
attendees, compared the way the Occupy movement is building to the peace
movements in the 1960s.

“Our nations right now is at a crossroads and if people
don’t stand up right now, it’s going to be too late, if it isn’t already,” he
says. “The only way people can overcome money is in numbers, mass numbers.”

“Power has time. They can
just wait for the movement to die out,” he says. “But I can’t see how our
nation can survive if we don’t stand up right now.”