Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Occupy DC Movement Swells

As the Occupy DC movement gains steam more than two weeks after the first protesters headed to McPherson Square, Georgetown students and faculty are being drawn to the movement.

Hundreds of people, including at least 30 Georgetown students organized by the Georgetown Solidarity Committee, marched downtown Saturday to rally on the National Mall and protest in front of the White House and the Treasury Department.

These local demonstrations stemmed from Occupy Wall Street, a larger movement that began in New York City in mid-September. Though the protesters do not have a concrete platform, participants claim to give voice and numbers to the world’s frustration with the sour economic climate.

Vail Kohnert-Yount (SFS ’13), who has attended the D.C. protests twice, said that the movement’s value lies in its expression of the bottom 99 percent’s disappointment with the status quo.

“The way that I view the movement is as an expression and not necessarily a declaration of demands. Right now people are expressing their dissatisfaction and sometimes their anger with a system that’s failed 99 percent of them,” she said.

Katerina Downward (SFS ’14), who has participated in both Occupy DC and Occupy Wall Street, said that while her father is an investment banker, she believes it’s important to support the protesters.

“As a Georgetown student, I’m drawn to political causes, and I am in solidarity with working-class people,” she said.

According to Kathleen Smith, a visiting professor in the government department who teaches a class called Social and Protest Movements in Contemporary Society, Occupy DC lacks the leadership and group cohesiveness necessary to enact change.

“The more diverse their grievances [are], the less concrete their demands,” she said. “So far, the Occupy movement has not been able to translate their anger into an effective message. That’s the problem with movements that are hyper-democratic.”

When Reverend Jesse Jackson made an appearance at the protest site Monday afternoon, he criticized the disorganized nature of the movement, saying that it needs to channel its energy toward creating actual change.

“[Dr. Martin Luther Jr.’s] success lies in the fact that he made the oppression we faced illegal,” Jackson told the crowd that had gathered. “At some point we must turn occupation into legislation for protection.”

But Kohnert-Yount said that the movement is united by a common desire to see political and economic change.

“Every single person in McPherson square has a different reason for being there, but they all have one shared reason and that is their desire for justice,” she said.

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