Hundreds of protestors showed up at Government Plaza near City Hall this morning for the Occupy MN rally, an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement that has been growing for weeks in New York. Working to call attention to economic inequality and corporate greed in this country, the rally attracted a protestors young and old, all bound together by a shared belief that corporate influence on the government is a major problem.
The opening hours of the rally were peaceful and attracted a few recognizable faces such as Mayor R.T. Rybak and former governor Jesse Ventura. Representatives from both the Minneapolis Police Department and Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department said they expected the rally to remain peaceful, and a lone counter-protester displaying far-right religious signage seemed to have no luck attracting the crowd’s attention.
While the Occupy MN protestors are united by a common anti-Wall Street stance, their goals beyond that seem more nebulous. Many protestors cited a need for change, but offered few specifics. One protester, who identified himself as Rowan, called for a ban on lobbying. But regardless of clearly defined goals, the crowd’s frustration was clearly evident. Speakers shared messages of equality and reform with the crowd via “the people’s mic” – having the crowd repeat their lines in a call-and-response. At their loudest, the crowd could be heard as far away as Nicollet Mall. The moment that seemed to inspire the crowd to reach that volume was the chant of “We got sold out, they got bailed out.”
Occupy MN plans to stay at “the People’s Plaza” for the foreseeable future, and are well-stocked with food and water to do so. For now, the public’s sentiment appears to be on their side. The rally attracted sympathetic honks from drivers as they passed and encouragement from pedestrians. “I hope they do well out here,” one police officer told The Journal. “I hope their message is heard.”