A picture of the 99 percent

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Posted Mon, Oct 24, 2011

At Occupy Denver's former location in front of the Capital Building, they constructed makeshift shelters and a kitchen, all of which were torn down when the protesters were forced to Civic Center Park. Photo by Nikki Work

DENVER — With a blue-collar job as a truck driver, and an online bachelor’s degree in progress, Justin Myer, 36, is a perfect example of the Occupy Together movement’s “99 percent.

Myer came across the Occupy Denver movement while passing through town on a job. After being laid off twice in the past year, the Casper, Wyo. native found that he agreed with the sentiments the protest stands for, and decided to put his home and his job on hiatus to join the occupation. He has been a part of Occupy Denver for 14 days.

“I’ve never seen or done anything like this before,” Myer said. “I just had to [do it], just to experience it.”

It’s been an experience, Myer admits, which is full of ups and downs.

“I need a better sleeping bag,” Myer said with a laugh. Then a shade more serious he added the dropping temperatures are posing severe problems for the protesters. As the temperatures dip to freezing and below at night, Myer emphasized a vital need for donations of cold-weather resources.

The lack of shelter from any of the elements doesn’t help, Myer said. Since Gov. Hickenlooper enforced laws on Oct. 13 that the protesters could no longer set up camp in front of the capital building, they have lost what little shelter their now-prohibited tents previously offered.

Now, they’ve set up camp across the street at Civic Center Park, where they manage a 24/7 occupation and sleep on the sidewalks in sleeping bags. Though the weather gets difficult, Myer said that camping out and staying out all night is still at the heart of the protest.

“Nighttime is completely different,” Myer said. “It’s crazy, it’s fun. [The protesters] might get to goofing around on their guitar, drinking hot chocolate all night.”

During the day, though, is a different story. The occupation is busier, and the protesters pitch in with everything from holding signs to helping in the kitchen.

“The average day is not average, no two days are the same out here,” Myer said.

And while the events of the day vary, in Myer’s opinion, one of the best things about the Occupy Denver protest is the outlasting sense of community.

“[I’ve met people here I will never forget. People have impacted each other in such a way that lifelong bonds and friendships have been made,” Myer said. “Fifty years from now, we’ll come back and we’ll meet right here, and go ‘this is where it all started.’”

Mayer also described how the group’s eclectic mix of races, religions and classes doesn’t separate them, but holds them together.

“I’ve spoken with a lot of these people and we have come to terms that we might have different beliefs, but we have one goal,” Myer said. “There’s a peace here, in this particular place…because everybody is being affected.”

And while some days are filled with friendship and togetherness, others have been punctuated by surprises, such as one a.m. wake-up calls from the park’s sprinklers, which Myer speculates was a premeditated attempt to push out the occupation.

Still, though living out of a sleeping bag in late October is anything but easy, Myer said that if he weren’t occupying Denver, he would still be a part of this protest elsewhere. Specifically, he mentioned an interest in the occupation in Los Angeles.

“Personally, it could be a big disappointment at the end,” Myers said. “The whole world could say no. It’s a victory or it’s a loss, [but] the end’s not here yet. I want to ride it through, see what happens. Either here or at another location, I still want to be a part of this.”

Though Myer’s support is fully behind Occupy Together, he said that he doesn’t have the complete support of his family. His employer, on the other hand, promised him job security and encouragement. Despite missing his home and life in Wyoming, Myers hopes to ride out the protests and be a part of a big game changer.

“There’s always a chance that the government can actually do what’s right,” Myers said. “It’s history in the making. Maybe the world itself will change somehow for the better.”

 

 

Occupy Denver’s Free Concert and Rally

– Oct. 22

– 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

– Located at Civic Center Park

– Featuring performances from Jonny 5 of the Flobots and many more

 

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