Kelowna’s own version of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which began in New York Sept. 17, brought locals to Kerry Park in droves Saturday.
Area residents flooded into the downtown core throughout the day to share their frustration with inequality, the disparity of wealth and power and a variety of other issues on a local and international scale.
Darin Howard was one of the first speakers to address the early morning crowd at Occupy Kelowna. Part of his speech included sharing excerpts from the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City.
“They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failure their policies have produced and continue to produce; they continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil; they purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media,” were three of the 21 statements Howard read from the declaration, speaking about the corporate elite.
“Power to the people” were the words Howard shared before stepping off the stage. With this, he was acknowledged with a roar of applause.
With no definitive speakers list, volunteers lined up to tell personal stories of frustration with the current system to the crowd.
“I have never seen a turnout like this, this early in the morning in really bad (weather) in the Okanagan,” said Howard, while listening to the next speaker address the Kelowna group.
Howard explained that the clarity of the Occupy Wall Street movement was what likely inspired local residents.
“They’re so cohesive with their statement. They’re logical, they’re peaceful and they know what they’re after, which is equality. That’s why it’s easy to understand.”
He also credited the Internet with helping the cause to grow.
“The Internet gets people cohesive and they communicate with each other. We added over 150 people in eight hours (Friday) to the Facebook group. Technology has changed things so that activists now can get results because they’re connected beyond just mail.”
Howard added that he was “stoked” that a Vancouver-based Adbusters is responsible for the initiation of the movement.
Daniel Jessome stood in the middle of the crowd, proudly displaying a sign that read: Marx warned us there would be days like this.
“I’ve been absolutely thrilled with the uprising that’s been going around North America. I’m an anti-capitalist. I’m against all the wrongs in our society that are constantly going on: The racism and sexism that capitalism (encourages). I’m against seeing brands and logos everywhere. I’m against private property in its entirety,” said Jessome.
“Seeing all these people standing up against all this wrong in our society inspired me to be here.”
Jessome mentioned that Kelowna is not immune to these problems.
“I’ve seen places with mass unemployment; I’ve seen homelessness in the streets.”
He said that he was impressed with the show of support.
“I’m completely shocked; I was expecting there to be 10 people. Seeing things like this, seeing how it’s happening all over the world and how they’re still in New York is absolutely amazing. They really feel the injustice and the insanity of our system.”