Cold weather usually drives crowds indoors, but Saturday morning, after a snowstorm hit Ogden, a group of approximately 50 people gathered in front of Ogden City Hall, in solidarity with the Occupy movement.
The rally began with a protestor, who went unnamed, who said, “The courage that was needed for people to march down down south in the 1960s is needed now,” referring to the Civil Rights Movement that took place in that time period.
Many of the protestors stood up on the steps of City Hall to share their story. Of those who shared their stories, many were military veterans from conflicts as early as Vietnam to the more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another member of the ‘occupiers’ said he was standing up against the mistreatment of veterans; another was standing up because he believed that “We have lost our voice.”
“The last congressional election, in 2010, left me appalled and disenchanted, knowing that corporations had that much influence over the democratic process,” said protestor Judy Fenstermaker, a non-combat Vietnam veteran and a Weber State University alumna. She said she had seen dark periods in American history, explaining that she was discharged from the United States Army in 1975 for having an African-American boyfriend. However, Fenstermaker explained she holds no resentment toward the Army, but that she stands up for the men and women who wear the uniform.
Fenstermaker said she feels that, with the high suicide rate amongst members of the military, something needs to be done in order to limit the stress and burden felt by service members.
“Everyone needs to serve,” Fenstermaker said. “That’s what made the draft effective, because everyone served, and it doesn’t just have to be in the military. It can be in the Peace Corps; it can be in anything that gives back to our country.”
Another WSU alumna, Kimberly Kasey, class of 2004, stood up advocating for Bank Transfer Day, which took place Nov. 5. A global sub-movement to the Occupy movement, Bank Transfer Day pushed to get people to close their bank accounts at major banks such as Chase and Bank of America and move them to local credit unions. Some local credit unions were offering cash incentives as an attempt to get people to switch banks.
Kasey, unemployed since 2006, explained that she felt a need to come and stand up for the under-served in hopes of bringing change to what she believes is a broken system.
The mayor and mayoral candidates were unavailable for comment. However, Mark Johnson, the Ogden City chief administrative officer, explained that, as long as the protestors maintained the permit to occupy that space, they would not be met with opposition.
“Things like this happen from time to time,” Johnson said, “and it will not be treated any different.”
The Ogden City Police Department was not present at the rally.
The occupiers were not clear as to whether they would be occupying like their Wall Street counterparts; however, they pledged to continue to gather and rally for change.