Freedom of speech is a frequent rallying point for protesters, whether from the 99% / Occupy Wall Street movement or the tea party. The First Amendment guarantees “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Many occupiers have interpreted this to mean they have the right to make their camp on public property.
The Alibi spoke with local 99%ers to find out why they’ve come to Camp Coyote and what grievances, exactly, they want redressed.
Blake Batten, nonprofit organizer
“I want to be a part of this movement to create a more just and equitable world, where your voice is valued regardless of your socioeconomic status.”
Brittany Arneson, UNM undergrad
“I’ve put all of my hard work into school, and I think that our economy should be good enough that all people get jobs if they put themselves through college.”
Erica Estes, recently unemployed
“My issue is education. My passion is to change the education system in a way so that people’s time isn’t being wasted by their high-school and their junior-high education. So the issue that I would like to see is an incredible change in the way we do education.”
David Lish, CNM film student
“Me personally, I’d like to see the accounting for POWs and MIAs. The issue’s kind of been swept under the table. ... That’s my personal one, but I’ve heard so many different ones. Some people are here because of health care—they can’t get health coverage. Some people are here because the banks have basically defrauded them, and they’ve lost their houses. Some people are here for jobs, now that there’s no jobs. This really is a myriad of issues. This has been the No. 1 question asked by the media: What are you here for? And I think everyone has different reasons for being here.”
Hershe Michele Kramer, UNM grad student
“It gives us a chance to hope that something can be different. ... I think everybody feels that, and they’ve just been beaten down so much that they don’t even want to bother anymore. But as this grows, the way it’s growing, I think more and more people are going to be so excited to feel like they can care, and something can change.”
Karissa Elizalde, concert promoter
“I got future children I got to worry about. I got to worry about myself. ... You got to pay to live, and that’s really unfortunate. So I’m here fighting just to be able to live.”