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Occupy Protests: Compared to protests from the 1960's and 1970's

5:10 PM, Nov 3, 2011   |    comments
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Sounds of support followed more than 500 people marching through downtown Tampa Thursday, October 6 -- to "Occupy Tampa."

Tampa, Florida - Protesters with Occupy Tampa -- though small in numbers -- keep their message alive.

"This movement is bigger than you or I. It's a proud moment for me to be a part of this," says Chris Hernandez.

"So many people have been so angry for so long, I'm surprised there wasn't a movement before this," says USF Professor Dr. Harry Vanden.

The professor knows what drives movements like Occupy Tampa. As a college student in the late 60's and early 70's, he organized civil rights and anti-war protests. Vanden says, "Now we see the problem of inequality and unfairness, avariciousness, arrogance come to the floor again."

Unlike 40 years ago, Vanden says the Occupy movement has more public support because its message is clear: it's found in the slogan "We are the 99%."

"I think a lot of us are concerned with the concentration of wealth, concentration of power... the way the political system has become all too influenced by money," says Vanden.

And unlike 40 years ago, where the protests were youth-driven, Vanden says Occupy is more mutli-generational.  "I think it's this basic American feeling of justice. You've got to do the right thing, you have to be fair to people, can't take advantage of people, you can't ignore people, you can't exploit people. That's what makes people angry," says Vanden.

But that anger can sometimes get out of control. Demonstrations in Oakland turned violent this week when police and protesters clashed after a day of peaceful protests.

"Certain individuals believe the only way to get the media's attention is if you engage in militant or violent action. Unfortunately, for the people that do it and the media that focuses on it, sometimes loses the message of what it's all about."

Vanden says social movements do work, because they get the discussion started. He says to make change happen, one has to start talking about the problems and the solutions.

And right now, the public is talking.

Isabel Mascarenas

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