Occupy Miami Sets October 15 Protest as Other South Florida Groups Meet

In solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, protesters gathered in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Lake Worth on Saturday to get organized

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Occupy Miami protested at the Torch of Friendship in Downtown Miami's Bayfront Park on Saturday. (Published Sunday, Oct 9, 2011)

    About 200 members of Occupy Miami gathered Saturday afternoon to prepare for local action, scheduling their first large protest in the Magic City for Oct. 15.

    Organizers of Occupy Miami held a lively planning meeting at Miami-Dade College,which lasted for about six to seven hours, according to a participant, who asked that her name not be published.

    Attendees discussed the upcoming demonstration and local issues the group will protest, the attendee said, including the FCAT standardized tests used in public schools.

    "Yesterday was an attempt to be more pragmatic than theoretical," said activist Bruce Wayne Stanley.

    Stanley said he joined Occupy because of the way the political process currently works.

    "It's the realization that our political process can't work the way [it's] currently constructed," said Stanley. "If we're going to make progress as a country, it's not going to come out of the current voting process, or by being silent.

    "This isn't the kind of movement that's going to flare up and die out," he continued. "This is a concept that's here to stay and obviously stay throughout the country."

    Misael Soto, who attended Saturday's meeting, said the recent protests have been a wake-up call.

    "I see the wrong that money and greed are causing, and it's just a problem I felt I haven't addressed properly," he said.

    During the meeting, dozens of Occupy Miami supporters stood outside of Bayfront Park Downtown as they held up signs and chanted, "Occupy!"

    One sign read, 'Come speak up! Occupy,' and another displayed the words, 'We are the 99 percent,' contrasting Occupy protesters with the wealthiest one percent of Americans.

    In Broward County, Occupy Fort Lauderdale met outside of the Broward Main Public Library.

    About 150 people showed up to the Fort Lauderdale meeting, while  more than 200 people attended a protest at Bryant Park in Lake Worth, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

    Occupy events have drawn protestors of diverse ages and occupations who are speaking out against corporate greed, social inequality, global climate change and other concerns.

    "It's a movement to talk about the overall economic health of the country," said Occupy Miami spokeswoman Karja on Saturday. "It's a huge group of people with a lot of different people, with a lot of different topics."

    The original Occupy Wall Street demonstration started out small last month in New York, with less than a dozen college students spending days and nights in Zuccotti Park, a private plaza off Broadway. It has grown significantly, however, both in New York City and elsewhere as people in other communities display their solidarity in similar protests.

    While protests in South Florida still remain small, protestors in Manhattan are running out of room to assemble and celebrities like rapper Talib Kweli and Wilco's Jeff Tweedy have made appearances in support.

    On Oct. 1, about 700 people were arrested and given disorderly conduct summonses for spilling into the roadway of the Brooklyn Bridge despite warnings from police.

    Several Democratic lawmakers have expressed support for the protesters, but some Republican presidential candidates have rebuked them. Herman Cain called the activists "un-American" Wednesday at a book signing in St. Petersburg.

    "They're basically saying that somehow the government is supposed to take from those that have succeeded and give to those who want to protest," the former pizza-company executive said. "That's not the way America was built."

    On Thursday, President Obama said he understood the protesters are 'frustrated'.

    "I think it expresses the frustrations that the American people feel," he said. "People are frustrated and the protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works."

    Caution: some strong language appears in the video below, from Occupy's October 2 meeting.