Story by Steve Klinger
Photos by Kathy Meyer and Joseph Hempfling
An energized group of Santa Feans gathered this morning on the corner outside the Bank of America at Paseo de Peralta and St. Francis Drive to voice solidarity with the Occupy Together movement sweeping the country, spawned by Occupy Wall Street. About 60 people with signs, drums and smiles, a few of them in the formal attire of plutocrats from the We Are People Here! group, waved their placards and acknowledged the numerous honks and greetings from passing traffic on a bright, sunny Saturday morning.
Umika Solange, who said she co-organized the Occupy Santa Fe event with Amina Re, greeted newcomers warmly and explained her participation in the event as “wanting to take back our country from corporate greed and negligence.”
She added that Saturday’s demonstration was “in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street,” which continues in lower Manhattan. “We want to see positive change” in America.
Amina Re said she set up a Facebook page with Solange on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, linking it with the new Occupy Together site, which is tracking protests and offering videos from cities across the U. S. She said, “I am wanting to really unify with the other 1 percent to join the 99 percent of us and come up with a solution together.”
A wheelchair-bound participant with a sign reading “Bank of America Sucks $” said she has been protesting that bank’s corrupt practices since the 1970s. Carol Weber said she used to picket weekly in San Francisco. She added she has been demonstrating in Santa on behalf of workers since Gov. Scott Walker’s push to deunionize Wisconsin began in January. As for Bank of America, Weber said, “They’ve been corrupt since the early 1900s.”
Another demonstrator added that she has gotten unemployment benefits on a Bank of America debit card and the bank charged her for every transaction.
Mariel Nanasi, executive director of New Energy Economy, an energy independence organization based in Santa Fe, said there are both local and national goals that can be accomplished by organizing resistance to the status quo. To pick one solution on each level, she offered the following ideas:
Nationally, Nanasi suggested charging five or 10 cents on each stock transaction, with the money going into a fund that goes only to mayors of cities for distribution to their communities. “The money has to go toward renewable energy,” she stressed. “That will create thousand of jobs” and move the country toward cleaner energy.
Locally, Nanasi said, “We should kick PNM out of Santa Fe city and county. That would bring a million dollars immediately back to Santa Fe that is going to Wall Street and get us off dirty coal.”
Re said no civil disobedience was planned for Saturday’s action, and the group did not seek to obtain a permit for the gathering. She said more organized protests will be announced on the Facebook page, Occupy Santa Fe in Solidarity With Occupy Wall Street https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=129590153808809.