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Over 1000 join Occupy Raleigh protest, 20 people arrested

By Kosta Harlan |
October 15, 2011
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Hundreds of people take to the streets of downtown Raleigh
Hundreds of people take to the streets of downtown Raleigh for a march past some of the biggest banks – Bank of America and Wells Fargo – chanting "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!" (Fight Back! News/Kosta Harlan)
General assembly gets underway at 3 pm
General assembly gets underway at 3 pm as permit to demonstrate on the State Capitol grounds expires.

Raleigh, NC - Over 1000 people gathered on the State Capitol grounds today, Oct. 15, as part of the Occupy Raleigh demonstration. The rally lasted four hours, as speaker after speaker stood to denounce the budget cuts and austerity measures being forced upon working people of North Carolina.

At 1:00 p.m., 500 people left the State Capitol to march through downtown Raleigh. As protesters passed Bank of America, a roar rose up through crowd as hundreds chanted in unison, "The banks got bailed out, we got sold out!" and "Hey hey, ho ho! Bank of America has got to go!" Passers-by waved and signaled support to protesters as they chanted, "We are the 99%!" and "How to fix the deficit? End the wars and tax the rich!" The marchers went past Wells Fargo, Bank of America and other banks and corporations before returning the main rally at the State Capitol.

Citing deregulation of corporations, union-busting and political corruption, Sarah Appel, a teacher at Duke University, said she was motivated to attend the protest to be part of a movement waking up to organize for change in the face of "the complete bankruptcy of the bi-partisan political system."

Seth Keel, a youth organizer with NC HEAT (Heroes Emerging Among Teens), told the hundreds assembled at the State Capitol, "We are the 99%, but the 1% owns us all and it's time to break down that system.” Keel emphasized, “The youth are here, and our futures are at stake."

As people cheered, Keel continued, "This system is buying out students’ futures. Our tuition is going up and up as the corporate-bought politicians cut budgets, lay off teachers and cut teachers' salaries. Resources are taken out of classroom and students are falling behind because of these budget cuts. The Koch brothers and Art Pope continue to use their monetary influence to put people in office who want to privatize our education."

Another march left the Capitol grounds at 2:30 p.m. and gathered support from passers-by in downtown Raleigh. As the permit for the protest expired, a general assembly of 300 people convened on the capitol grounds and protesters discussed next steps for the movement. Dozens of Raleigh police and State Capitol police encircled the assembly, watching and listening.

By nightfall, about 70 people had remained. 20 people had decided to defend their rights to assembly and speech and refuse to leave the capitol grounds. Raleigh police moved in to arrest these 20 at 7:00 p.m.

Fight Back! spoke with Eddy Samara, one of the people arrested at Occupy Raleigh, shortly after Samara posted bail. Samara said, “We'll be back. I felt strongly enough to stay because we have to stand in solidarity with all of the peoples' movements – from Wall Street to Madrid to right here in Raleigh. We have to assert our right to assemble and put forward a people's agenda instead of a 1% agenda."

Occupy Raleigh organizers plan to convene the next general assembly at noon on Sunday, Oct. 16. All who participated in the day's protests were inspired to continue fighting for justice and solidarity against the economic and political policies of the richest 1%.

Read more Fight Back! coverage of Occupy Wall street and follow @fightbacknews for live updates from #OccupyWallStreet protests around the country.

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