Occupy Kansas City Continues After Months of Protest

Occupy+Kansas+City+Continues+After+Months+of+Protest

Corrections: As pointed out by Amy in the comments, G does not speak for the entire group. This post previously said that G spoke for the entire group when saying, “There’s a power structure that’s been here a long time and that needs to be changed.”

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Upon arrival to the Occupy Kansas City campsite, one might notice the intense smell of smoke, the large community in one huddled group or the many signs that surround the site. “We are the 99%,” reads one.

A community of tents, clotheslines, painted cars and a bonfire sits next to the Federal Reserve building. From close by, shouts and conversation can be heard.

Who are these so-called ‘occupiers’ that can be heard from on the news? They’re upset individuals. Some homeless, some with jobs. Some 18 years old, and others 60. Mentally disabled, and not. They are the 99%, and their protests are meant to show people that financial equality is necessary.

“The goal behind it right now is to increase visibility of the fact that there is an inequality in the country and throughout the world,” Christopher Rink, 29, said. Rink works part-time and has been visiting the site on a daily basis.

He, like the many others at the Occupy KC campsite, chose to join this movement that has feverishly spread across the nation to show everyone that there is injustice.

“[I chose to join the movement] basically because of inequality. It’s everywhere, and it’s being vocalized and shown,” Rink said.

Rink wants the word to get out to the Kansas City area and beyond to expose the “1%” (the people in this nation with the most money).

“Obviously the 1% have an idea of what’s going on and the 99% of the population is being affected, but very few of those individuals have actually woken up, if you will, and seen the change that’s happening,” Rink said.

Others, who aren’t able to camp, try to make as many stops as they can to the camp.

“I go to work, I go to school and I come by when I can,” Brianna Siegmund, 40, said.

Another camp member, Pablo G, 39, has a more specific reason to join the protesting cause. He’s been at the camp since the beginning of the protests for someone close to him.

“The reason I occupy is that I don’t believe that my 17-month old daughter deserves to inherit trillions and trillions and trillions of dollars in debt,” G said.

He worried that the future of the country would affect the way she’s able to live.

“I want her to have a good education and I want her to have health care. It’s not going to be easy. She’s going to have to work really really hard,” G said.

His reason to join was out of concern for her, and the other youth of the country.

“[I want her] to not have to pay exorbitant amounts of money in student loan interest. That was intended for poor people to go to school and make better lives for themselves. Well, that got bastardized over the years by the people in charge – the elected officials ‘we elected,’” G said.

Personal experiences have led him to doubt the credibility of the nation.

“I did nine years in prison for beating up an asshole that came into my house and started a fight with me. The only reason why I did anytime at all was because I couldn’t afford a lawyer,” G said.

“Unless you have lots of money to pay for an attorney, you’re stuck,” G said. “There’s a reason why we call them [public defenders] public pretenders. There’s really no incentive for them to win cases.”

The group certainly has a clear message behind their months of camping and vocalizing.

“There’s a power structure that’s been here a long time and that needs to be changed,” G said.

This article solely shows the views expressed by the occupiers.

Words and photos: Andy Gottschalk, Dylan Crow, Sandra Kincaid