By Phil Zielinski
Lansing Star staff writer
Mathew Lehmann drove all the way from Alpena, Mich. to occupy Reutter Park in Lansing and attend the rally at the capitol on Saturday. Lehmann has taken his dedication to the cause even further, choosing to go on a hunger strike. As of Tuesday he hadn’t eaten in four days.
“The general consensus is that somebody needs to do something,” Lehmann said. “To take responsibility for America we need to start as close to home as possible.”
The rally will take place this Saturday, Oct. 15, on the steps of the capitol in downtown Lansing. It will begin at 10 a.m., with no specified ending planned. The idea was inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City.
Lansing Resident Rob Powell said, “Me personally, I believe the underlying current for a lot of people is the greed on Wall Street. One percent has so much money that they can influence the political process in a way that it wrecks the political process.”
Like many other rallies around the country, the Lansing rally was planned and put into action using the social media site Facebook. The event has almost 1,500 confirmed attending with another 1,100 maybe attending. With such a high expected attendance, security is a concern at a rally this large. Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero discussed plans to keep the rally under control.
“I am hopeful it will be a peaceful protest from start to finish,” Bernero said. “We will of course be working with the state police, the capitol is under their jurisdiction; but we will be working together, so I am hopeful that we don’t have to make any arrests.”
While concerned about he safety of the rally, Bernero is also excited about what it may accomplish.
“I think that to get back a Michigan and an America of opportunity, it’s going to take a movement by the people,” Bernero said. “That’s what this looks like from the ground up, and that’s what is necessary to get our country back and to stop the corporatization of our democracy.”
Bernero hopes movements like these will be a step in the right direction.
“If you look at my campaign I was taking on Wall Street. I proposed a state bank, I proposed taking our money out of Wall Street and putting it in local banks in Michigan and creating our own Bank of Michigan,” Bernero said. “So I understand that Wall Street has not been working on behalf of Main Street in some time…Main Street has been sold out for too long.”
Details about the rally can be found on the Occupy Lansing Facebook site.
Photos provided by Kars Petersen