Protest planned on top of HSU Homecoming this Saturday
By Charles Douglas
A two-week old protest against the political and economic dominance of Wall Street is spreading across the country and landing here in Humboldt County.
On Oct. 1 at 3 p.m. on the University Center Quad in the heart of the Humboldt State University campus, an as-yet unorganized group of students and allies intends to set up camp right in the middle of Homecoming weekend — just before the HSU Lumberjack football team hosts Dixie State.
Their intention, according to convenor Travis Turner, a Samoa-based advocacy journalist, is not to disrupt Homecoming, but to call attention to the common cause between those confronting the financier class nationally and the economic crisis faced by students in the California State University system.
“The CSU system has raised tuition again and again while also raising administrator pay,” Turner stated in a Facebook post inviting the public to Saturday’s event. “Classes are being cut and faculty are being let go while the top 1% of CSU employees get pay raises. Over the last three years we have continued to pay more for less. This must stop.”
Just as the “Occupy Wallstreet” has camped out in Liberty Park in downtown New York, Turner intends for protesters to set up an impromptu tent city and, with musical instruments in hand, camp out on campus. As owner of Venatore Media, he took particular aim at the corrupted Fourth Estate of establishment media outlets who have blacked-out coverage of the growing wave of protests, which have spread as far as Boston, Chicago, Phoenix and San Francisco.
“I see inequality and greed in almost every facet of American life,” Turner stated. “I see media organizations that I once idolized turning a blind eye to it. I see poverty at an all time high.”
Echoing Turner’s call is local political guru Richard Salzman, longtime campaign manager for Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos and recent challenger of Arcata’s anti-panhandling law (which also criminalized sign-holding at street corners).
“It’s been thousands of people holding rallies day after day to protest the Class War that’s been waged by Wall Street and the Banking Industry and Corporations against working Americans for the last [thirty-plus] years and finally, people are starting to fight back,” Salzman stated in a letter to the Sentinel. “I support these protesters and I hope you will too.”
While he doesn’t expect Congress or the media to meaningfully respond to the protest, Turner hinted at the launch of a larger movement, saying a General Assembly would convene to decide on any further moves — although he wasn’t sure if they would make any moves off-campus.
Just as protesters and independent journalists in Arcata have experienced in years past, part of the focus of Occupy Wall Street has become about their right to protest in the first place — with notorious examples of police brutality going viral on YouTube.
It’s unclear at this point whether “Occupy Humboldt,” with a few dozen fans on Facebook thus far, will extend its interests beyond education funding issues to the more strident opposition to the “banksters,” the Federal Reserve and the federal government support underpinning both.
“…we have undergone a corporate coup, where the poor and working men and women are reduced to joblessness and hunger, where war, financial speculation and internal surveillance are the only real business of the state, where even habeas corpus no longer exists, where you, as a citizen, are nothing more than a commodity to corporate systems of power, one to be used and discarded,” Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Chris Hedges stated in an essay on TruthDig. “Speculation in the 17th century was a crime. Speculators were hanged. Today they run the state and the financial markets. They disseminate the lies that pollute our airwaves.”
“They know, even better than you, how pervasive the corruption and theft have become, how gamed the system is against you, how corporations have cemented into place a thin oligarchic class and an obsequious cadre of politicians, judges and journalists who live in their little gated Versailles while 6 million Americans are thrown out of their homes, a number soon to rise to 10 million, where a million people a year go bankrupt because they cannot pay their medical bills and 45,000 die from lack of proper care, where real joblessness is spiraling to over 20 percent, where the citizens, including students, spend lives toiling in debt peonage, working dead-end jobs, when they have jobs, a world devoid of hope, a world of masters and serfs.”