Protestors occupy Lexington: Nationwide movement draws local attention

Staff Report

The Transy Bubble isn’t impenetrable, it seems.

 The national Occupy Wall Street movement, which started in New York City, has reached Lexington and, more specifically, the Transylvania community.

Signs appear in various campus locations calling Transy students to action.

The movement, perhaps best known by its slogan “We are the 99 percent,” has manifested in front of the J.P. Morgan Chase building on the corner of Main Street and Esplanade Alley.

The protests, though downtown, have caught the interest of members of the Transylvania community.

“I feel a lot of sympathy for the aims of the whole movement, and I wanted to go down and check it out. I saw it was a good thing and what I thought it was going to be,” said Dr. Ben Hawkins, professor of music and director of instrumental ensembles.

“(I) spent an hour at Occupy Lexington (Wednesday), for the first time, but not the last,” Hawkins said on The Rambler’s Facebook page.

“Other cities across Kentucky have caught on as well. There is now an Occupy Louisville and Georgetown,” stated University of Kentucky student Robert Wilhelm.

Wilhelm has been occupying for nearly a week. Soon, he hopes that the movement will spread to other places across the state like Somerset, Paducah and Danville.

So who exactly are the 99 percent?

According to participants, they are everyone who isn’t in the one percentile range of wealth in our nation.

Transy senior Austyn Gaffney feels that the purpose of the protest may be misinterpreted.

Senior Austyn Gaffney looks over protest materials at the Chase Bank building downton.

“It (Occupy Lexington) would turn off the majority of the 99 percent, because it seems ‘radical,’ a word that’s become dirty in our conservative-learning society,” said Gaffney.

Certainly, people may think that when they see others formally organizing a sleepover on the street.

“An official said to us, ‘It looks like you’re running a homeless shelter,’ ” said Greg Capillo, a Western Kentucky University graduate and current worker at Third Street Stuff and Café. “Well, maybe we kind of are.”

Capillo also added that the Lexington police have been “exceptional.”

Though the majority of protesters in Lexington have come from larger campuses, signs are appearing across campus that suggest Transy involvement.

Martha Gehringer, an instructor in writing, rhetoric and communication, recently took her Introduction to Journalism class down to the protest site in hopes that her students would “absorb all of the visuals to get a glimpse as to why people are there.”

“What most impressed me about the protestors was their unwavering commitment and energy in adherence to the cause. It was very refreshing,” said first-year Taylor Deaton.

To get a more professional response on the political movement, Gehringer invited Dr. Jeff Freyman, professor of political science, to share with her class some insight on the social movement, where he claimed to be no “official spokesperson.”

“Congratulations!” Freyman said. “Your generation is the first generation in history that will be poorer than the one that preceded you. The recession is not going away, and the overall quality of your life will be less than those who came before you due to the ongoing systemic crisis.”

In upcoming protests, Freyman hopes that Transy students will take the initiative to stand up “on the front lines” in support of the movement.

“This is our last great hope,” said Freyman.

Signs have been appearing around campus calling students to “Occupy Transy” and meet in the Campus Center at 4:15 p.m. today.

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One Response to Protestors occupy Lexington: Nationwide movement draws local attention

  1. Mike Laney says:

    Just some random thoughts:
    But…but…did the protest have drum circles and large papier-mâché puppets? Without those, how do you know if it is a protest?

    Why do all ” instructor(s) in writing, rhetoric and communication” seem to always want their student to “absorb all of the visuals” at these protests? Just a question. But then again I think we all know the answer. Did the good instructor expose her students to the Tea Party “visuals” in 2009 and 2010? Just asking.
    And finally, this from Dr. Freyman:
    “Freyman hopes that Transy students will take the initiative to stand up “on the front lines” in support of the movement.
    “This is our last great hope,” said Freyman.
    I find his nostalgia from his time at that “little college nestled in the bosom of the Berkshires” endearing.
    Thank you,
    Mike Laney ’74

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