Members of Occupy Olympia gathered at South Puget Sound Community College on Nov. 10 to share personal stories about how they came to become part of the occupation.
Members of the panel, which was hosted by the student organization BRICK, included Kendell Brookhart, Dean Hobbs, Zac Fraser, Kayla Parez, and Jasmine Hargrove.
The purpose of the panel, according to Hobbs is because “the press didn’t really cover what we were there for, it mainly covered factions of homeless people that were part of the 99 percent, instead of talking about the corporate tax loopholes that we are mad about.”
Brookhart showed images from her trips to Portland, Berkeley, Oakland, and New York. She talked about the evolution of the New York occupy, intriguing some of the audience by explaining the evolution of the drums.
“It started with just a few bongo drums and now it is a kit. It is a massive full-on basically rock stage [with] every percussion instrument imaginable,” she said.
Bongo drums in New York do more than provide a beat for the protesters, they get louder and faster as the police presence becomes more of a threat.
When the global day of action happened on Oct. 15, Brookhart was in New York while protesters took Times Square.
“The cops were targeting anyone with a camera first, and then they went after the medics,” she said.
Dean Hobbs, a 41-year-old father and SPSCC student, is involved with the Occupy protests in Olympia.
Hobbs said he joined the occupation because he’s “always been frustrated about the economic situation” and hasn’t known what to do. He thinks the Occupy movement is a real chance for change.
When Hobbs first became involved he didn’t know anybody and ended up making friends by attending several general assemblies and got plugged into the community.
“The reason why I was frustrated is specifically because large corporations and people with a lot of money hijacked our democratic system. All legislation that is passed is to further the interest of large corporations,” said Hobbs.
Jasmine Hargrove, an SPSCC student involved in BRICK and the Occupy movement, said her primary concern with society today is the isolation.
Hargrove showed up on Oct. 17 and pitched a tent with people when the Occupy encampment was first setting up base.
“With our society, we have become so isolated within ourselves, within our own lives…When you live in a post-industrial society like this you don’t know the names of your waitresses children, you don’t hang out with your bus driver when he gets off work…It’s always really bothered me,” she said.
Zac Fraser came to Washington two years ago to attend The Evergreen State College from Honolulu, Hawaii.
“I got to thinking, maybe it’s the case that I live in a systemically oppressive society,” Fraser said. “I don’t like that. I don’t like the fact exploitation is rewarded, and that theft is rewarded, and that kindness just doesn’t cut it, you can’t get by just being a nice person and being a hard worker.”
Fraser also said he doesn’t know what will become of the Occupy movement, but he sees his ideal type of community being built there and in other Occupy camps across the country.
Kayla Perez is a first-year student at SPSCC. She heard about the Occupy movement from Hobbs during a BRICK meeting.
“We are doing things the state says they have no money to do,” Perez said. “Human beings are doing things that the system cannot do, and that’s something that keeps me going. The system isn’t broken; the system was built this way.”