LANCASTER – Absent their signs, members of the Occupy AV movement blended in with the rest of the people purchasing produce and other items at The BLVD Farmers Market Thursday evening. Then around 6 p.m., in front of BeX Bar and Grill, the group of about 20 broke into a sudden call and response chant to the surprise of onlookers.
“Forty-nine million people in poverty!”
“In 2010, $11 trillion in corporate profits!”
“One hundred, twenty-two million donated to politics by banks!”
“We are the 99 percent! You are the 99 percent!” the group chanted.
The demonstration was short, lasting only a couple of minutes, but Occupy AV demonstrators say it was enough to get their message out. They are planning several similar demonstrations at undisclosed locations in the future.
“We’re making a presence known in the city,” said Occupy AV demonstrator Chris Cowin. “I hope the politicians realize that we are serious… that we are American people with nothing else to lose now.”
The Occupy AV movement in solidarity with the global Occupy Wall Street Movement began roughly about three weeks ago. The group held its first march on Oct. 29th (read the story here) and a second “Move Your Money” march and rally on Nov. 5th (read the story here). Both times, demonstrators marched the length of The Blvd. Following the second march, the group occupied American Heroes Park from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., initially, before moving to Boeing Plaza on Sierra Highway and Lancaster Boulevard about a week ago.
Cowin said the group has occupied Boeing Plaza from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, and has swelled to as many as 50 people at peak times of the day. He says the group spends its time planning demonstrations, holding up signs in view of passing cars, chanting messages to people walking by, and answering questions from curious onlookers.
“We try to figure out what has made the person stop in the first place and what their complaints are,” Cowin said. “We want people to know that if you have any grievances with what’s going on in this world today, we have a place to join to feel some community.”
He says individual grievances abound in the Occupy AV movement, but the group’s central goal is “getting the money out of politics.”
“We feel that the moment we get money out of politics then the majority rule comes back to this country, and when majority rule comes back to this country, all situations can be resolved because our politicians are no longer bought,” Cowin said.
Two days ago the Occupy AV movement caught the attention of Gregory Jackson, 22, who recently relocated to Antelope Valley from Los Angeles.
“I was driving by and I saw them,” said Jackson. “I believe that everybody should be a part of this.”
Asked why he feels connected to the Occupy Movement, Jackson says:
“I’m only 22, my daughter is turning 1 soon and her future is as bright as mine… and I don’t have one. Knowing my daughter won’t have a future scares me…We have the opportunities and we have the resources; it’s just a matter of us putting our heads together and putting our differences aside and trying to figure out how to make a better future for our children and ourselves.”
Occupy AV is planning a third march and rally at 10 a.m. on Saturday, which is tentatively scheduled to take place on The BLVD. For more information on scheduled events for Occupy AV, visit their facebook page.