Students go to New York for Occupy anniversary

Anne Buie

Appalachian students join fellow Occupy protesters in a meditation circle at a New York City intersection this past weekend. Thousands reconvened in the city to commemorate the year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Photo Courtesy Jose GarridoThe Occupy movement took place a year ago, but for six university students the decision to drive up to New York City last week to particpate in the anniversary was “spur of the moment.”

“I’ve supported the Occupy movement since it began and I’ve been following it for a long time ever since the beginning,” Cameron Keener, sophomore political science major, said. “It’s something I felt like I needed to be a part of in person to solidify some of the support that I’ve had for Occupy for a long time.”

Keener said attending the anniversary had “matured” him.

“Regardless of what the media says, this movement has the potential to bring change,” Keener said.

The students teamed up with about 10 people to meditate in the street.

“We felt that meditating in the midst of all this chaos showed unity and peace,” Keener said.

The group was there to occupy the police from the main protests going on around New York City.

“We’d shut down the intersection and try to draw cops away from the crowd where the masses were and divert them,” Hugh Harper, sophomore sustainable development major, said.

All six students said they had not had the opportunity to physically partake in Occupy Boone when it existed last year.

“I think that’s why we wanted to go up there,” Caitlyn Blakelock, sophomore child development major, said. “We wanted to jumpstart our involvement. It means nothing if we just talk and don’t show our involvement.”

Hugh said going to the Occupy anniversary was empowering.

“It showed us, just some students from North Carolina, that we can make the national news reel and make a profound change,” Hugh said.

But Hugh said at times the resistance could be “frightening.”

At one point, Hugh said the policemen surrounded him and the other students on all sides.

“One policeman is fine,” Hugh said. “But NYPD as a whole is a ruthless machine.”

But despite the arrests to fellow Occupiers, Keener said the overall experience was “profound.”

“Overall, we all had similar political ideas, grievances and ideologies,” Keener said. “We all came back clear-headed and calmer.”

The students said they want to continue bringing back Occupy ideas to Boone.

For further information, visit the Twitter page


Story: ANNE BUIE, Managing Editor