Oct 102011
Authors: Jason Pohl, Elisabeth Willner

About 70 people of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs gathered in front of a foreclosed building on the corner of Maple Street and College Avenue Monday night to discuss the future of Occupy Fort Collins.

The leaderless movement overwhelmingly decided that, in order to truly occupy and make their point, protesters would stay awake in shifts throughout the night for the duration of the movement in accordance with a city law preventing overnight camping.

“We are the 99 percent,” chanted dozens of protesters as cars honked in support –– and opposition –– of the leaderless movement prior to the meeting just north of Old Town.

“We are all here for one goal,” shouted another protester, as they waved signs decrying corporate greed and economic inequality.

The group grew in size throughout the day, from 31 at 2 p.m. to 70 at the meeting at 6 p.m. –– the first of its type in Fort Collins.

“I don’t have a job. I have an occupation,” said Denny Anderson, a Fort Collins resident who was recently laid off from his job at a sand and gravel company and has become an organizer for the Occupy movement. “Occupying is my occupation.”

That goal, protesters said, is for corporations and those in power to do their part in contributing to the system –– something they say is just not happening.

The evening’s meeting was facilitated –– not led –– by Ethan Ivey Shaw, a freshman business major at CSU who spent a week at the larger event in New York. He made it clear that the movement should remain leaderless to be effective and said that the importance of this event is that everyone has a voice.

“When I was in high school, I just got really into politics,” he said after his speech. “I just always wished that Occupy Fort Collins began as a leaderless movement in a similar fashion to those events around the country including Denver and New York. Shaw said the events in New York are “phenomenal” and that the turnout Monday was surprising, but promising.

“It’s one thing to have a big rally in somewhere like New York, but having this kind of decentralized structure where you have hundreds of little rallies throughout the country is another,” said John Hultgreen, a political science graduate student at CSU.

Those in attendance for the general assembly were encouraged to bring any and all ideas to the table and take part in the peaceful protest and show of civil disobedience. Attendees were also encouraged to be responsible by cleaning up trash, recycling and stay out of traffic to avoid punishment.

Efforts on the campus level are also being organized including a national walkout, which is scheduled for Thursday at 2:30 p.m. in the Lory Student Center.

“People need to know what is going on,” said Alex Brena, a freshmen art major. “More people need to know about what we’re doing.”

He and Ashley Havlin, a freshmen natural resources major, said they have been participating in the larger Occupy Denver events for the past two weekends. They plan to educate the college population at CSU through booths and informational sessions on campus.

“I just want to give them the information students need to make their own decision,” Havlin said.

Senior Reporter Jason Pohl and Collegian writer Elisabeth Willner can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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