‘Occupy El Paso’ group organizes as movement grows nationwide

Rio Grande Digital

As protesters camped out in New York City’s Zuccotti Park struggle against city police and a lack of credibility with national media, a local group has formed in El Paso to stand against what the movement sees as unbridled greed in Corporate America.

The new group, “Occupy El Paso,” made its first appearance on Facebook on Thursday. By Monday morning, it had grown to more than 600 fans. Its organizers plan their first gathering at 6 p.m. Friday at San Jacinto Plaza — also known as La Plaza de los Lagartos — in Downtown El Paso.

Like the Occupy Wall Street group in New York, the El Paso group decries the concentration of wealth in the US, where, they claim, 1 percent of the population holds 75 percent of the nation’s wealth.

“Occupy El Paso is (a) leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions,” wrote Gilbert Gonzalez, a member of the Facebook group. “The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99 percent that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 percent. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants.”

Another Facebook poster, Luis Ruiz, wrote that he wants to limit corporations’ influence in US politics.

“I believe that the single most important thing that the Occupy Wall Street movement should put on its list of demands is campaign finance reform. Period,” Ruiz wrote. “Unless we change the way that elections are funded, the results will be the same no matter which party is in power.”

During the weekend, protests were held in a number of US cities from Boston to San Francisco. A search of social media for the word “Occupy” reveals a number of local groups across the country.

Rhonda Taylor, one of the New York protesters, said Occupy Wall Street seeks to rectify problems that have affected her life, according to a news release from a group called “October2011.org,” which supports the “Occupy” movement.

“I am a 99er whose job disappeared over three years ago and have gone without any income for one year three months,” Taylor said in the news release.  “I advocate for the 99ers and would like to see jobs created in this country. Human needs before war.”

The group outlined the demands of the movement:

  • Tax the rich and corporations
  • End the wars, bring the troops home, cut military spending
  • Protect the social safety net, strengthen Social Security, improve Medicare for all
  • End corporate welfare for oil companies and other big business interests
  • Transition to a clean energy economy, reverse environmental degradation
  • Protect worker rights including collective bargaining, create jobs, raise wages
  • Get money out of politics

Occupy El Paso organizers said everyone is welcome at Friday’s event.

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