Occupy COMO continues movement, expresses long-term plans

The group continues its attempts to reach more MU students.
The Occupy COMO movement continued this week outside City Hall. Protesters have already planned for winter and said they might be protesting on Liberty Plaza for months or years if necessary.

The Occupy COMO movement, Columbia’s effort in the nationwide Occupy Together movement, continued this week outside of City Hall and some community members have started to respond.

Participant Bill Dessenberger said the protestors have already planned for winter and might be protesting on Liberty Plaza for months or years if necessary.

“We have no end date,” he said. “We are waiting and watching for some sign of change.”

Columbia resident Jacob Fasching said the community has responded by thanking protestors for showing up, donating food and honking as they drive past. Somebody gave a $100 Shakespeare’s gift card and a local diner donated a pot of soup.

“I’m glad people are standing up,” he said.

Protestors have been holding signs and speaking to the community for three weeks advocating the issue of disproportionate representation in which the top 1 percent of the population gets more than 1 percent of power and influence in the country and world.

“There’s only 1 percent of the population that controls 99 percent of the world’s assets,” MU freshman Josh Bohm said.

Dessenberger said Occupy COMO will continue protesting at Liberty Plaza and is considering renting an apartment for demonstrators to rest between shifts standing outside.

He said despite the media’s blackout of the movements, the protestors did not stop rallying in support of equal representation.

“We keep pressuring and simply build and grow larger until we can’t be denied,” Dessenberger said.

The protestors’ main concern stems from their belief in a lack of democracy in America. Dessenberger said candidate wealth from campaigns and political elections and lobbying through money all contribute to this problem.

“Voters are forced to vote based on the information they have at the time,” he said. “Using the only voice you can find without extreme effort, you end up with completely undemocratic elections.”

Columbia Public Communications Director Tony Messina said the demonstrators have been peaceably exercising their First Amendment rights and have caused no official reactions from the city.

“As long as they’re peaceable, not bothering anyone who has business to conduct with the city or walking downtown, I don’t think there’s any cause for alarm,” she said.

Bohm has been involved in the movement since he saw a group of protestors on his way to The Blue Note downtown. He is now an admin on the Occupy COMO Facebook page and one of fewer than 10 MU students protesting with the movement.

“I’m here because I want the future to be better than it’s looking right now,” he said.

Bohm said raising awareness is the most important task of the group right now. He hopes more students get involved because they have a better chance of making change.

“There are people on campus literally a mile away that have no idea what’s going on,” he said. “Ignorance isn’t really bliss.”

The movement occupied Speakers Circle on Thursday as part of the Nationwide Student Solidarity Protest to spread information and get more students on board.

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