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Occupy Martinsburg group plans Saturday protest

October 11, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A peaceful protest is planned for noon Saturday in front of the Martinsburg public library at town square in a show of solidarity with Occupy Wall Street protesters.

The Occupy Martinsburg rally is meant to demonstrate that even people in small communities across the nation are aware of the corruption in government and are fed up, organizer Jacob Allen said Tuesday.

The Occupy Wall Street protests began in New York on Sept. 17 and have since spread across the nation. Protesters have laid out a series of demands and proposals for the federal government, with a focus on ending the influence corporate money and lobbyists have over politicians.

Allen said similar rallies are planned for Saturday, including one in Charleston, W.Va., as part of a “global day of protest.” The Occupy Martinsburg rally is not intended to disrupt the 32nd Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival parade “whatsoever,” he said.

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Town square is along the grand feature parade’s route through downtown Martinsburg, and Allen said he believes turnout for the Apple Harvest Festival celebration could help swell their numbers.

Based on responses via the organization’s Facebook page, Allen said 50 to 60 people could turn out for the rally on Saturday. The group’s Twitter handle is @occupymartnsbrg

“If we could get 100 people out there, we’d be really, really excited,” Allen said.

Allen estimated more than 20 people rallied Oct. 8 outside the W. Craig Broadwater federal building in downtown Martinsburg.

Fliers announcing Saturday’s rally are being posted in Eastern Panhandle communities as well as Winchester, Va., Allen said.

A Facebook page for Occupy Hagerstown was launched Tuesday, but organizers could not be immediately reached for comment, and no events were listed.  

Allen said in a news release that Occupy Martinsburg and Occupy Wall Street are not affiliated with any political party and include members of all political persuasions united by efforts to “fix the system, end corruption and hold the government to account.”

The Martinsburg group, which launched a Facebook page on Oct. 3, intends to hold a “general assembly” meeting on Friday in the plaza in front of the Martinsburg library for people who want to be involved in the movement, Allen said.

“This movement is important because we as a nation have sat idly by and watched as our representatives funded their campaigns with corporate dollars and then let the corporate lobbyists write the legislation that governed their industries,” Allen said in the news release.

“That is not government of the people. That is a government of the dollar.”

Allen said in an interview that the group’s concerns also include what has been happening at the state and local levels of government.

Allen acknowledged he hasn’t been involved in local politics in the past, but said he will be more engaged going forward.

“We can all agree that the system is not working,” Allen said.

In addition to the rally, the group announced a clothing drive for area homeless people and indicated a drop box for donations is at Good Natured Market and Vegetarian Cafe at 209. S. Raleigh St. in Martinsburg.

Donations also will be accepted at Saturday’s rally, according to the news release.

More information about Occupy Martinsburg can be found on the group’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/OccupyWVMartinsburg

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