Downtown Riverside gets occupied

By Danny Heflin / Asst. News Editor

Tired of the leadership (Jacob Willson / Asst. Photo Editor)

By Danny Heflin / Asst. News Editor

The chant of “We are the 99 percent” shouted out loud at the pedestrian mall in Downtown Riverside was liberated and occupied by just over 300 people of all ages from toddlers with their parents to retirees on Oct. 15.

According to handouts from Occupy Riverside, this occupation is in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street and is a protest of the richest one percent of Americans for and by the other 99 percent.

Similar protests occurred that day around the nation and all around the world.

Participants at the intersection of University Ave. and the Main Street pedestrian mall held many signs ranging from “Prosecute the Wall Street Crooks End Corporate Greed,” and “Arrest Wall Street Bankers not Medical marijuana providers.”

One other sign was carried by Stephanie Kay read “Banks are weapons of mass destruction,” Stephanie said that she wanted “to see accountability of Wall Street and those that created this sub-prime mess prosecuted.”

“We need to regain control of the democratic process. We are the 99 percent!” said Kay.

Kay said that just has the occupation began a march around toward the Mission Inn and back on Orange Street to the pedestrian mall.

One impossible to overlook occupier was self-proclaimed R.U. Serious dressed in a Department of Corrections prison jumpsuit with copper face and Statue of Liberty head dress.

As officers from Homeland Security and a lone Riverside police officer watched on the leaders of the occupation held a rally.

As the occupiers repeated word for word what was said, guidelines were put in place.

The Occupy Riverside leaders stressed not to interfere with businesses, not to impede normal traffic and to comply for the most part with law enforcement.

Occupiers stressed having a non-violent and peaceful demonstration with no property being damaged or destroyed.

This was a very big concern for the organizers, as Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in Rome Italy erupted in violence and vandalism.

Groups of guitarist played together as one child holding a sign that read “My mom fights so I won’t have to.” Others handed out political literature.

 “I think the money should like be for education. Everyone should be able to have a free education so we can have good jobs later,” said college student Jesse Littleton. “It is not fair to have school debt.”

Littleton said that she would for Apple after she graduates.  

“Protesting is fine, but what do they really want?” said Mike Johansen, a Riverside county resident. “Some have banners for legalizing pot or having free college. You have to earn, it is not free.”

As night fell about 60 of the occupiers remained. These diehards divided into two groups, some to the Service Employees International Union local 721 parking lot where they had a permit to camp out in the five tents there and some stayed at the pedestrian mall.

Although Riverside Police had said they could be arrested for sleeping at the mall those who did were not bothered.

 The proposal to protest was based on the belief that the City of Riverside had given the Mission Inn a billion dollars to renovate.

According to city records $1.57 billion has been allocated to Riverside Renaissance with $32 million going to the Fox Theater.

As Sunday continued on only one person was seen at the base camp of Service Employees International Union watching over the tents, and approximately 45 people remained at the pedestrian mall.

Only five still held signs, the banners carried on march after march Saturday now laid on hedges and chairs.

No longer did the cars honk in support or the cries of “get a job” ring out.

On the Monday, day three of demonstration, four occupiers help protest signs while 14 to 18 stood about in the pedestrian mall.

Banners again as on Sunday lay lifeless on hedges and bushes.

Three people were at the logistical base camp at the union office with only three tents there today.

In a press release received by Viewpoint from Radene Hiers of Occupy Riverside states that “We estimate being here until Nov. 5.”

No ones First Amendment rights were violated during the protest.