Hundreds in Tallahassee ‘Occupy’ old Capitol Building to Protest Policies

Hundreds turned out for the Occupy Tallahassee rally on Oct. 14 in front of the Old State Capitol to protest financial inequities. “There are so many people out here,” said Gabriel Paez, 21, a Florida State student. “I have been doing activism in the city of Tallahassee for awhile,

and I have never seen anything like this.”Protest participants were lined together Friday, Saturday and Sunday screaming “People united will never be defeated” and “United Occupy” to cars and on-lookers passing the capitol complex.

“I believe there are a lot of problems people are seeing all over the nation that are also dismissed here in Florida,” said Cecelia O’Brien, a 21-year-old history student at FSU. “We need to make sure we are standing up for our local concerns such as environmental regulations being cut severely, funding for universities being cut severely and, in general, the line between corporations and government have become blurrier and blurrier.”

Propelled by the protests that have been going on for more than a month in New York, Florida residents also expressed their views on issues, like the global financial crisis, government cutbacks and funding cuts to education.

“What brought me as an individual out to the capitol is that I have been paying attention. And I am one of the million and millions of Americans that now recognize that our system of economics have failed,” said Paez.

“I did my research, and it just opened my eyes,” said Kinsley Telusme, a 20-year-old business student from Palm Beach, Fla. “I found out about the protest through research about the different issues and concerns that people are rallying on.”

Demonstrations began on the same day that finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 Nations met in Paris to discuss solutions to the debt crisis in Europe. “Not only in New York, but also in Detroit, Georgia and other places in the United States are also doing the something,” said Telusme, who found out about the rally through a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People meeting held on Florida A&M’s campus.

“We’re trying to make an impact and show the government that we’re standing here and fighting back against the government and actually show them we know what’s going on.”

Many students who attended the protest this past weekend brought up the issue of funding cuts on the Florida Bright Futures Program and funding cuts on Florida universities. “At FSU, our funding from legislation has dropped, and is still dropping, which has caused the school president to raise tuition,” said O’Brien.

Protesters who attended the demonstration look forward to being fully prepared and organized by the start of the Florida Legislative Session, with their demands of changes that need to be made here in Florida.

“We hope to get a general assembly of Occupy Tallahassee at least every week after this week,” said Katherine Sequra, a 21-year-old FSU student who is double majoring in women studies and political science. “One session comes around, we hope to go in and get as many people as we can at bill hearings to try and fight against the bills that we are going to be dealing with.”