Occupy Santa Cruz forms human chain at Lighthouse Point
SANTA CRUZ - About 150 Occupy Santa Cruz protesters joined hands Sunday at Lighthouse Point Sunday in a human-chain demonstration against greed and inequity.
Organizers said they were showing that the local arm of Occupy Wall Street is "united in peace and pushing for economic justice and accountability in the United States." Event literature protested the consolidation of wealth in the hands of a few, with trillions of dollars poured into prisons and wars while vital social services are slashed.
The gathering included people of all ages and levels of involvement in the mushrooming movement. More than one participant noted they were part of the 99 percent, utilizing an Occupy slogan about the broadness of a movement for those who are not among the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.
Woody Carroll, 51, carried a flag as rode his bike up to join a short pre-chain rally. Carroll, who works in the UC Santa Cruz film and digital media department, said it's the first Occupy Santa Cruz rally he has attended.
"Like most Americans, I'm angry and I'm looking for a way to express that to express solidarity with Occupy Wall Street," he said. "Our political process has been bought and sold. There is too much influence by corporations and the rich.
"It's in the fabric of Americans to protest and demand redress. You do what you can where you are."
The demonstration began with music by the Sadza Marimba Band and a brief noon rally before the group
stretched out along the railing fronting Monterey Bay, lining up toward Pelton Avenue and reaching bleachers erected for next week's Cold Water Classic. West Cliff Drive was bustling on a sunny fall day, and several motorists honked horns as they drove by.
Bonnie Loya and Lynn Martin were walking together down West Cliff when they decided to join the chain.
"It's great," said Martin, a 63-year-old school custodian. "It's about time. We've been grousing about things since before Obama, and we haven't really done anything so visual. I think it's wonderful."
Demonstrators held a series of signs that made sense only when held together. One multi-sign message talked of the ripples created by a pebble cast into a pond, while another called for campaign reform and one stated that "all sentient beings have the right to pursue happiness and live in peace and freedom."
Those in the chain sang several songs in unison, including "This Land is Your Land."
Joy Binah, 56, a Santa Cruz artist and farmer, helped organize the event.
Binah has been seeking a mortgage modification from Wells Fargo Bank since November, and said she has had to reapply every 60 days because the bank does not act on her request.
She added that she would join the movement even if she had no loan problems.
"We have 1 percent of the population controlling the remainder, and the time has come to put an end to the oppression," she said. "Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could connect these groups across the United States?"
Others spoke of lost homes, lost jobs and lost faith in government.
An organizer of Occupy Santa Cruz, Noah Shepardson, said the Santa Cruz group held its first general assembly Oct. 4.
Based at the courthouse steps along Water Street with a camp in nearby San Lorenzo Park, the movement has held several marches and protests at Santa Cruz branches of national banks.
Shepardson said the human chain went well, and that more are in the works.
"It was excellent," he said. "There was a really good turnout and we got a lot of good public support. I think a lot of people who spent time out there on West Cliff got at least a little glimpse of what we're about."