Occupying N.L.

Colin MacLean
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Protesters hold up signs for the media during the Occupy Newfoundland protest in Harbourside Park in St. John’s Saturday. — Photo by Colin MacLean/The Telegram

Amid spitting rain and gusting winds, three young people attempted to put up a tent in what little green space was available in Harbourside Park in St. John’s Saturday.

Trying their best to shield themselves from the cold and muggy day, the three worked hurriedly to set up their shelter, intent on joining the growing number of people gathered on the nearby Water Street sidewalk.

Travis House, 20, explained what drove him to come downtown and pitch a tent in miserable weather on his day off.

“I wanted to come down, set up a tent and show my support for the ‘occupation’ movement,” said the data management technician from Kilbride.

There’s just something about people camping out in a public space for a cause that raises the awareness level for that movement, he added.

“It really drives home the message. There’s a visual component to actually camping out and occupying a space rather than just showing up for an afternoon and saying your spiel,” he said.

House and his two tent mates were participants in an event dubbed Occupy Newfoundland. The Harbourside Park protest coincided with similar protests/sit-ins   across the world Saturday.

Organized mostly online through social media websites, the events espouse any number of grievances with the status quo, but all share the theme of displeasure with the financial uncertainty facing the average citizen and the disparity in the distribution of the world’s wealth.

Protesters involved in the movement regularly tout the statistic of most of the world’s wealth being in the hands of one per cent of the population, so “occupiers” call themselves “the 99 per cent.”

The growing movement was inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protest ongoing in the United States, which was in turn inspired by the Canadian anti-corporation group Adbusters.

The Occupy Wall Street movement has attracted thousands of people from across the U.S., and while Occupy Newfoundland was a smaller affair, its participants were no less enthusiastic than their American counterparts.

Thomas Jordan, 29, of St. John’s was one of the first to sign up for Occupy Newfoundland and helped stir up some of the initial interest locally. He was also the guy holding the megaphone at the rally.

“Today I am here as part of a movement to educate and make people aware of some of the huge issues that we are facing, not only as a province and country but as a global society,” said Jordan shortly after Saturday’s rally.

Jordan, an artist, poet and interior painter, also dismissed the criticism levelled by some pundits at the occupy movement.

Some commentators have said Occupy Wall Street lacks a clear goal and what motives it does have are vague and unrealistic. 

Jordan says he doesn’t agree.

“There seems to be a common denominator where people are sick of the one per cent  (of the population) having so much, and 99 per cent having so little,” he said.

He also said even though the people who show up to events like Occupy Newfoundland have many goals and agendas, the fact they came at all shows a shared sense of discontent with the direction of society.

“The clear goal, realistically, is to get people involved, to think for themselves ... not just put blind trust in our politicians to act in our best interest,” he said.

“We all realize that the world is heading in some terrible directions, we’ve decided it’s about time we stand up and take action for ourselves.”

 Jordan, House and a handful of other occupiers have vowed to stay in Harbourside Park as long as they can. They’ve set up a tent shantytown of sorts, but have made it clear they intend to keep the park clean and to generally respect the space and its visitors.

Some, like House, could only stay as long as the weekend allowed.

“I got until Monday,” chuckled House.

“Like the rest of the 99 per cent I have to go show up for work.” 

cmaclean@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelegramMacLean

Organizations: Adbusters.The Occupy Wall Street, Travis House, Chuckled House

Geographic location: Harbourside Park, Water Street, Jordan United States

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Recent comments

  • Stan Squires
    January 05, 2012 - 13:34

    I am from vancouver and i use to live in NFLD before i moved out here.I wanted to say that we live in a class society and the working class every where have to fight against capitalism and take political power into their own hands.We got the technology and equipment that is needed to improve our lives but it is not getting to the people.Capitalism is holding back progress.Once the working class got political power into their own hands then class society can be gotten rid of.Keep up the good work.

  • Anon
    October 18, 2011 - 14:46

    FIAt Currency and Fractional Reserve Banking have lead us into an economic system dependent on growth which is dependent on energy. You can't have more money than you can have energy and since we're running out of non-renewables like copper, rare earths, gold, oil and several others, though especially oil. What we're seeing is the collision of the finite energy vs infinite growth paradox. These protests are just the beginning. You can expect riots in the coming decades as our global infrastructure starts to break down and areas that were previously supported by imported resources are cut off and are unable to support themselves with local resources. Ideologies are not the problem, THE MONETARY SYSTEM IS THE PROBLEM.

  • MR
    October 17, 2011 - 17:24

    P.S. If you look at some of the very successful people, look at the salaries they pay. It's the staff that makes the money for the owner but it's ridiculous what they get paid. Not all companies but a lot of them. The CEO of a bank may get a bonus of $8 million while the teller is making $12 an hour and you call this fair.? How much does Donald trump pay the hotel maids?

  • Joseph McGrath
    October 17, 2011 - 15:51

    STUDY the SYSTEM re: the New-Global-Economy. Do not be surprised to learn that the implementation of the New-Global-Economy has fundamentally changed the definition to words World-wide...words like 'democracy', 'ethics', 'values', 'finance', 'politics', just to list a few examples. In addition, a country like Canada is a supplier of commodities and only commodities. The down stream processes are outsourced to any country in the World to provide the biggest bang for the buck. The shareholders in the global community demand a ROI and the role of the CEO is to meet the needs of those shareholders. Pay for Performance is respected now more than ever before. It is ALL about MONEY, Folks!!! There sure is a lot of SPIT swapping going on over the world economy these days especially among those who have nothing better to do and get paid for doing that.

  • jack
    October 17, 2011 - 15:10

    In realistic , the movement is going to fail , unless the movement has some sort of resourses , or political agenda , funding , and or the support of the media , who I might add is controlled by this one per cent your out of luck. And then you could try the radical movement and we all know your going to end up in jail because once again the one per cent controls the laws and the police. Work around the system not against it , you wouldnt live long enough or have enough money to make a change. There is more than one way to skin a cat ,, so they say !!

  • Mindy
    October 17, 2011 - 13:40

    i have more than I need ...BUT I work hard for what I earn. By the time you get an education, work the long extra hours, move up the ladder and take the crap along the way. Kiss a.little ____!! then you get there and why not enjoy it.

  • howie
    October 17, 2011 - 13:31

    First off marxism did not fail, you are confusing marxism with communism. Karl Marx wrote about how capitalism is doomed to fail, as corporations expand devousing more and more resources and capital, till it implodes on itself. Secondly, capitalism or the free market, have nothing to do with democracy. Fact is banks, have committed fraud, destroyed the economy, and not one person has been charged to date for these crimes. The wrote mortages that they knew were bad, packaged them into hedge funds and sold them off to unsuspecting investors, then bet against them that they would in fact fail. Investors lost billions of dollars on this scam. Yet the disgusting part is now these same banks are foreclosing on people throwing them out of their homes, when in fact they do not even hold the paper on the mortages. They sold them, funds went bust now back to make more money by reselling homes. Before you spout off about what people are saying and assuming communism and socialism, are the same, understand what you are saying as it makes you look like an uneducated fool. They are not protesting about people working or earning a living. They are protesting about how it is ok for everyone to expect teacherss or nurses who earn 30-70K a year to take 20% pay cuts, but people earning in excess of 1 million a year to accept a 3% tax increase. It is time for the free ride of the top 1% to end and start paying a fair share. If you earn 10 million a year would a 70% tax rate hurt you? Can you not live on 3 million a year? If not, you are the problem not the solution.

    • wtf
      October 18, 2011 - 10:55

      ' If not, you are the problem not the solution. ' And your cure is worse than the disease.

    • Trotsky
      October 18, 2011 - 10:57

      Well said. However, I think you are confusing communism with Stalinism.

    • Yee Haw
      October 18, 2011 - 11:05

      Marxism didn't fail, it just never succeeded anywhere in the world, but that's not failure.

  • seanoairborne
    October 17, 2011 - 13:26

    And they went,wee,wee,wee, all the way home!!

  • howie
    October 17, 2011 - 13:24

    First off marxism did not fail, you are confusing marxism with communism. Karl Marx wrote about how capitalism is doomed to fail, as corporations expand devousing more and more resources and capital, till it implodes on itself. Secondly, capitalism or the free market, have nothing to do with democracy. Fact is banks, have committed fraud, destroyed the economy, and not one person has been charged to date for these crimes. The wrote mortages that they knew were bad, packaged them into hedge funds and sold them off to unsuspecting investors, then bet against them that they would in fact fail. Investors lost billions of dollars on this scam. Yet the disgusting part is now these same banks are foreclosing on people throwing them out of their homes, when in fact they do not even hold the paper on the mortages. They sold them, funds went bust now back to make more money by reselling homes. Before you spout off about what people are saying and assuming communism and socialism, are the same, understand what you are saying as it makes you look like an uneducated fool. They are not protesting about people working or earning a living. They are protesting about how it is ok for everyone to expect teacherss or nurses who earn 30-70K a year to take 20% pay cuts, but people earning in excess of 1 million a year to accept a 3% tax increase. It is time for the free ride of the top 1% to end and start paying a fair share. If you earn 10 million a year would a 70% tax rate hurt you? Can you not live on 3 million a year? If not, you are the problem not the solution.

  • howie
    October 17, 2011 - 13:22

    First off marxism did not fail, you are confusing marxism with communism. Karl Marx wrote about how capitalism is doomed to fail, as corporations expand devousing more and more resources and capital, till it implodes on itself. Secondly, capitalism or the free market, have nothing to do with democracy. Fact is banks, have committed fraud, destroyed the economy, and not one person has been charged to date for these crimes. The wrote mortages that they knew were bad, packaged them into hedge funds and sold them off to unsuspecting investors, then bet against them that they would in fact fail. Investors lost billions of dollars on this scam. Yet the disgusting part is now these same banks are foreclosing on people throwing them out of their homes, when in fact they do not even hold the paper on the mortages. They sold them, funds went bust now back to make more money by reselling homes. Before you spout off about what people are saying and assuming communism and socialism, are the same, understand what you are saying as it makes you look like an uneducated fool. They are not protesting about people working or earning a living. They are protesting about how it is ok for everyone to expect teacherss or nurses who earn 30-70K a year to take 20% pay cuts, but people earning in excess of 1 million a year to accept a 3% tax increase. It is time for the free ride of the top 1% to end and start paying a fair share. If you earn 10 million a year would a 70% tax rate hurt you? Can you not live on 3 million a year? If not, you are the problem not the solution.

  • MR
    October 17, 2011 - 08:38

    A few years ago I saw the salary packages for some CEOs. It was disgusting. Who needs a 12 million dollar house and 14 cars.? What hockey, basketball or baseball player deserves 6 million a year. I hear there is a famous hockey player coming here to give a speech. I also heard what he is getting paid. If it's true, it's disgusting. How much money does he need to live?

    • Lane
      October 17, 2011 - 09:20

      What you are espousing is Marxism - a failed ideology that has led to poverty, privation and oppression among all those who have tried to put it into practice. Freedom-loving people around the world strived for the better part of a century against the evil big brother who sought to appropriate and redistribute the fruits of the toil of honest people trying to improve their lot in life. And now these foolish protestors would plunge us back into that ideological battle for no reason other than to satisfy their own selfish envy of those who have earned greater prosperity than they.

    • Komrade
      October 17, 2011 - 09:31

      Yes komrade, need is the basis of every communist system.

    • Elizabeth
      October 17, 2011 - 09:35

      So what you are saying is that every person should be entitled only to what they "need to live"? If you don't "need a 12 million dollar house and 14 cars", you should not be allowed to have it? If people are willing to pay you for exercising your skills, whatever your skills may be, you should not be allowed to accept what they want to pay you? What a miserable life it would be for everyone if we were not allowed to have things just for pleasure - if we were only allowed the meagre possessions necessary to live. It would be like Stalinist Russia. You youself have far more than you need to live - like a computer, obviously. Can we assume that, true to your own ideology, you will be giving all your surplus possessions and money to someone who has less? No, I didn't think so.

    • MR
      October 17, 2011 - 17:10

      I am not saying we should be like Russia. However how far is too far ? If I have a product that I bought for $1, should I sell it for $1,000.?? I just think a reasonable profit is acceptable. I just don't like the exorbitant salaries or profits. That's what got these protests on the go.