DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – After a weekend of protests in cities across the United States and around the world, organizers of the Occupy Wall Street protests are trying to figure out what’s next.
They’ve raised close to $300,000 and now have storage space filled with donated supplies in lower Manhattan. But at least in New York, the group is having trouble agreeing on much, from policy issues to simple things like whether someone should be allowed to bring in a sleeping bag. One student organizer says “egos are clashing” at the protesters’ camp, but he explains it’s “participatory democracy in a little park.”
There were arrests at protests in at least four cities Sunday. Most were for refusing to obey police orders to leave public areas.
In Chicago, about 175 protesters were arrested. Police moved in when the protesters refused to take down their tents and leave a city park when it closed. Protest organizers say the arrests signify a new phase of civil disobedience for Chicago’s wing of the movement.
Occupy Detroit protesters at Grand Circus Park, meanwhile, said they’ll be staying — indefinitely.
WWJ’s Marie Osborne spoke with some of the protesters and a woman by the name of Stephanie from Port Huron said she is not asking for a hand out. “Asking for opportunity that is been taken from us,” she told Marie.
Others like Les say it’s about time people stood up and spoke up. “The poor people be left out of the process, so we need to get the poor involved in it. That’s what makes America great, is it was always the middle class that made America.”
And Les has a message for those in the media. “Instead of Lindsay Lohan, they should be … reporting something worthwhile that the people they can understand, you know, so I think the message is getting out there slowly but surely.”
Scott Alf of Ann Arbor got a call from friends to help set up tarps against the cold weather, and wound up sticking around. Monday morning, WWJ’s Ron Dewey found him cooking hash browns for the soon-to-be awake breakfast crowd.
“I wanna say it’s a spiritual thing as well as a political thing,” Alf said. “I think I’m just here to try to make a difference and help people out … to get out the common vision that we have together for a better place.”
Alf said he attended a conference in the 1980’s about a world without weapons and this is about a world without capitalism.
Mike Wexton of Farmington Hills, a Wayne State University student, said they began Friday night with 50 campers, and have since doubled that number.
“We plan to grow. We’re growing and growing … it’s our main focus. Our main focus is to grow in numbers and in support,” Wexton said.
Wexton said Detroit is the “poster child” of the greed and corruption they are protesting. He says they want to stay at Grand Circus Park for “as long as possible.”
Photos from Grand Circus Park