Dozens of demonstrators have gathered outside city hall today as part of an emerging social movement inspired by an encampment set up three weeks ago on Wall Street in New York City. Occupy Austin protestors are taking turns speaking their minds on issues generally related to the rich-poor divide and the influence of wealth on American politics.
“It’s every American’s job to stand up and stick up for the people that can’t take care of themselves through no fault of their own,” Wimberley resident Dana Horton told KUT News. “That’s why I’m here.”
Occupy Austin organizers have been holding daily meetings at city hall in advance of today’s demonstration. This morning, they issued this list of goals and demands:
1. This movement is about democracy. We demand that the government be truly responsive to those it represents. We demand an end to the massive corporate influence blocking the voice of the people by eliminating corporate personhood and limiting monetary contributions to political campaigns and lobbying.
2. This movement is about economic security. We demand effective reforms to prevent banks and financial institutions from causing future economic crises.
3. This movement is about corporate responsibility. We demand strict repercussions for corporations and institutions who cause serious financial damage to our country and its taxpayers.
4. This movement is about financial fairness. We demand tax reforms to ensure that corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes.
The Occupy Austin Facebook page says “this is an occupation, not a protest” and says protesters will stay outside city hall until December 6. But overnight camping in public areas is banned by city ordinance. It’s still unclear whether Austin police will interpret the Occupy Austin gathering as a campsite.
Organizers have said they will work around the camping ban by not erecting tents at city hall and by conducting their demonstration in shifts. A "permanent basecamp" has been set up on a private lot at 5011 East Cesar Chavez where tents will be set up for people to rest.
You can watch a live stream of the event here.
Reshma Kirpalani contributed to this report.