Milwaukee, WI - More than 3000 people marched here, Oct. 15, as a part of the Occupy movement, which began about a month ago on Wall Street in New York. At 11:00 a.m. in Milwaukee’s Zeidler Park, protesters gathered to stand against continuing cuts to education and public services carried out by Governor Scott Walker and to stand against rampant corruption in the powerful financial sector.
After gathering at the park for about an hour, protesters marched toward the Chase Bank building for a rally. The protest consisted of a diverse group of Milwaukee residents, from union workers, to undocumented workers, to students, and many more.
Milwaukee Students for a Democratic Society led a student contingent consisting of about 20 people. Students carried about four large banners and led chants, such as “When workers’ rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” and “Money for jobs, not for war!” which were well-received by people surrounding the contingent. SDS member Chelsea Ottery summed up the importance of the Occupy movement for her, “By unifying the voices of people from the lower and middle classes, we can create a movement dedicated to positive change for the average person and hold Wall Street and the American government accountable.”
Once the rally concluded, the protesters marched back to Zeidler Park, where they began preparations for an occupation. Protesters have set up a first aid tent as well as a tent for food and are getting themselves organized as a larger group. This is a continuation of large general assemblies that organized the action from the beginning. Most people are planning to stay at least until the park closes and some have made clear their intentions to stay the night at Zeidler.
Police presence during the march was heavy, but did not interfere with the action. The Chase Bank building, which was the target of the march, was closed to the public for 24 hours before to the protest and had police surrounding it. Police presence back at the park was fairly light, but it is unclear what will happen if protesters refuse to leave after the park closes at 10:00 p.m.
SDS National Organizer Kas Schwerdtfeger said of the overnight occupation, “We aren’t really sure what they [the police] are going to do, but if we can get enough people, we are planning to try to stay the night.”