Occupy RVA begins official occupation in Kanawha Plaza

Stephen Nielsen
Contributing Writer

In a spirited attempt at non-violent protest, citizens of Richmond gathered in Monroe Park Saturday afternoon to hold Occupy Richmond, a local incarnation of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

“I think we’re all here because we want to illustrate that there’s something wrong,” said Danielle Lewis, a University of Richmond law student and member of Occupy Richmond’s legal committee.

Demonstrators had signs showing different issues they wanted to bring attention to. Issues ranged from economic equality and the reduction of perceived corporate influence to the use of clean energy and the legalization of marijuana.

The movement focuses on the one percent of the population that holds a majority of the country’s wealth.

“The upper one percent has just been pushing the boundaries more and more with what they think they can get,” VCU student Kyle Hughes said. “I want to contribute to the fact that people are finally standing up against it.”

The intention of Occupy Richmond is to hold a sit-in for an extended period: an occupation. Performing this demonstration was somewhat hindered at the beginning by the meeting to decide where the protest would be held.

The protesters met at 4 p.m. in Monroe Park, and then took part in a “general assembly” where they would democratically decide the details of the demonstration.

The meeting took roughly two hours, before demonstrators decided to march to the site, Kanawha Park in downtown. The march didn’t take begin until almost 6:30 p.m.

“It takes time,” said Farid Alan Schintzins, a vocal participant in the debate over location. “We need to do it when we’re ready.“

At dusk, when Richmond law states visitors of Monroe Park must leave, the group was moving to Kanawha Plaza, avoiding any negative police interaction.

The group has plans to occupy indefinitely. At the time of press, protesters were in their second day of the occupation.

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