Occupy Wall Street movement in Maine
The Occupy Wall Street movement has expanded beyond New York City’s financial district, and Occupy Maine is one of the many offshoots cropping up across the country in support of the movement’s fight for economic equality via condemnation of corporate greed.
Occupy Maine, while primarily aligned with the movement’s national agenda, is also working to publicize several more local incentives.
According to the group’s Facebook page (the movement is organized largely via social media and networking sites), Occupy Maine has these demands for the state: “We demand affordable heating oil for Mainers. We demand bringing the men and women of the Maine National Guard home. We demand amending corporate personhood. We demand viable public transportation infrastructure.”
But these demands are just specifications within a larger movement that calls for respect and consideration for all, regardless of social, economic or political standing.
Evan McVeigh, a 26-year-old restaurant worker from Portland and participant in Occupy Maine, said in an interview with the Portland Press Herald, “We need to realize people are people, and if we actually sit down and rationally talk we can come to good ideas, strong ideas that reflect the needs and concerns of all parties and all philosophies involved.”
Since Oct. 1, Occupy Maine protesters have gathered in Monument Square and Lincoln Park in Portland, holding a general assembly every evening at 6 p.m. in Monument Square, where they make announcements, listen to new proposals and refine their campaign strategy.
At the end of the day, many protesters return to sleep in tents in Lincoln Park, which by now is home to more than 30 tents. Campers are currently receiving steady donations of food, sleeping bags and other necessities. Protesters have secured a permit from the city that allows them to camp in the park, as long as they respect it and obey city ordinances.
With this type of support, many protestors say that they plan on remaining in the square until something changes. But how long will it take? “Optimistic answer: a couple months. Pessimistic answer: three years,” McVeigh told the Portland Press Herald.
On Oct. 15, another branch of Occupy Maine gathered in the state capital of Augusta to fight for these same issues. Unlike the Portland protesters, Augusta activists have yet to obtain a permit to camp in Capitol Park, but the police have chosen not to intervene in the group’s efforts so far, and about 30 people have set up tents across from the State House.
As in Portland, protestors in Augusta have been receiving a lot of food donations, and on Saturday, Oct. 22, they donated excess nonperishable items to a food drive promoted by Governor Paul LePage.
“Politics aside, we want to make sure people who need food get it,” Occupy Augusta member Paul Carrier told Bangor Daily News, proving that in all the excitement of raising awareness, protestors are making efforts to contribute more immediate forms of aid to those suffering as a result of the country’s ailing economy.