More than 400 people gathered on the front lawn of the Iowa Statehouse Sunday afternoon to profess their solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street protest and to commence “an occupation” of what they were calling “the people’s park.”
Many protesters held handmade signs. One young woman had a bright pink sign that read “I am a human being not a student loan number.” Another sign mimicked a Monopoly game get out of jail free card, “Stop Wall Street from steeling our future.” One sign read “We are the 99%.” A man in a tie-dyed bandanna held a sign that read “Give peace a chance.” One large vinyl banner was from the Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth demanding an independent investigation into the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings.
Joel Kurtinitis, a Ron Paul volunteer in a Ron Paul t-shirt, said he had come because of his concern about problems with the Federal Reserve. “We should not aim our anger at private business. Don’t protest your neighbor, direct your anger at the government,” said Kurtinitis.
A team of facilitators, including a woman who has been involved in the Occupy Iowa City protest, led the crowd through an organizational meeting which they referred to as a “general assembly.” Facilitators told the crowd they were not acting as leaders or official spokespersons because the Occupy Movement had no identified leaders as everyone involved is considered to be a leader. The focus of the first meeting was on the structure of the protest and not the details of issues. Using a show of hands, those gathered agreed upon the formation of several committees including a legal committee, a communications committee, and a supply committee.
The crowd agreed that a “general assembly” would be held nightly at 6 p.m. on the west lawn of the Statehouse to discuss further issues and to provide a democratic voting process. The large group then disbursed into committee meetings to assess who was interested in involvement and what skills and services each person had to offer. Former Iowa State Representative Ed Fallon volunteered to serve as a facilitator for the legal committee.
Lacking electric amplification, the protest facilitators used a crowd echoing technique to insure their message could be heard by those gathered. After a speaker would say a few words, those gathered closest to the speaker would repeat the speaker’s words in a chant-like manner so people toward the back of the crowd could hear what was being said.
When the Capitol grounds closed at 11 p.m. last night, Iowa State Troopers removed the protesters. IowaPolitics.com shot the following video.
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