March 21, 2019

Occupy St. Louis protests begin downtown

The protests on Wall Street against government corruption have come to St. Louis. Protesters rallied at the door of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis on Oct. 1, and among them were Webster professor Kenneth E. Harrison, Jr. and two of his students.
The movement, starting Sept. 17, began with protesters outside the New York Stock Exchange claiming bank bailouts and corporate greed are to blame for layoffs and poverty in the U.S.

Harrison, who teaches a class called Writing for Change said he’d never taken a class to a protest before, but felt that going would allow himself and his students to take part in something important.

“I wanted them to see democracy in action,” Harrison said. “I wanted them to know their voice does matter. You don’t get instant results, but being part of the movement is very exciting.”

Harrison said he made the students who participated aware of the risks involved. More than 700 protesters in New York were arrested Oct. 2, the same day they were protesting in St. Louis.

ALEX BRANDT/THE JOURNAL

“I joked to my students that if they came and got arrested or beaten, they’d get an A,” Harrison said.

However, freshman creative writing major and a student of Harrisons,’ Natalie Boesch, said she didn’t feel threatened at all.

“It didn’t seem like that would happen,” Boesch said. “Everyone was respectful, and some were offering cookies to the cops there.”

Boesch said she is concerned with the economic situation the U.S. is currently in, as well as the future of it.

“I don’t experience the hardships other people do (financially), but I will,” Boesch said. “It’s going to be extremely hard finding a job.”

As they held signs that read “Honk to Support,” Boesch said the response she and other protesters received from people passing by encouraged her to keep going.

“People drove by and honked and the crowd (protesters) went crazy,” Boesch said. “One woman drove around the block twice just to honk. People who didn’t have the time to join us still supported us.”

The 200 protesters in front of the Federal Reserve were told to leave the property and move to another location.

They moved to Keiner Plaza where protesters pitched tents and are staying until justice is done, or until they’re forced to go home.
Harrison said he would try to go to Kiener Plaza  again to show solidarity.

“I don’t like going to protests, but to sacrifice my time and deal with my discomfort is worth it,” Harrison said.

Boesch said the reason she and other protesters were out on the street was not particularly to provide solutions, but to bring dire issues to the public’s attention.

“I don’t feel everyone has an answer, but everyone there were making people aware,” Boesch said.

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