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COMMUNITY OPINION: Occupy Stockton | By Ana Castaneda

(bw) STOCKTON, CA – Even if you’ve been only paying a minimal amount of attention to the news you’ve most likely heard about the Occupy Wall Street protests around the country. Occupy Wall Street, OWS, originated as a call for activism by Toronto based magazine, Adbusters. As early as July of this year Adbusters urged activists to march up Wall Street in New York and protest the unfair and corrupt practices by the wealthy 1% (who constitute people making over 26 million dollars a year), while the 99%, such as you and I, struggle with debt due to costs from higher education, unemployment and the recession. [MORE] Recently, the movement has reached the west coast all the way into our own little city of Stockton, California. The question remains, “Can Occupy Stockton achieve success despite our fears?”
Stockton is infamously known for its reputation. The plague of violence is often a spotlight for our city, and one that generates concern for its residents. As a resident I am aware of the consequences of random violence especially since Facebook makes it easy to share incidents with a click of a mouse or by a mobile phone. If you drive down Airport Way a billboard funded by the Stockton Police Department highlights the number of murders up to date. This was a tactic by SPD to gain support through funds as well as to avoid layoffs. Unfortunately, mistrust of the police causes the community to suffer.
Based on media images chronicling the Occupy New York movement, we are bombarded by pictures and video of peaceful protesters slammed on to concrete, shoved into cars and maced with pepper spray by, self-proclaimed, New York’s finest police. If such unprovoked violence can occur in a highly patriotic state such as New York, we, as Stockton residents, are forced to expect the worst from our own law enforcement. Residents here debate whether or not it is possible to risk themselves for the sake of activism in a city on edge and in fear. To find success, as the 99%, we must unite peacefully and demand intelligently. But, these acts alone cannot guarantee our protection by and from the police, whose job consists of enforcing order in established society, and not to defend activists regardless of our good intentions.

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