Justice for Alvarado Street
Occupy Wall Street protests spill over; local banks see surging business.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Even with forceful chants and provocative signs, the 200 or so Occupy Monterey participants gathered Oct. 16 on the Colton Hall lawn resembled a friendly campfire more than an angry protest. In lieu of a megaphone, participants repeated en masse what speakers said, then indicated consensus by silently lifting their hands.
There are no self-identified organizers of Occupy Monterey, the local offshoot of the international Occupy Wall Street movement. Instead, “focalizers” have helped plan protests in Monterey, Salinas, Pebble Beach and Big Sur over the past week.
Rejecting the term “march,” protesters “strolled” down Alvarado Street and Fisherman’s Wharf in orderly two-by-two lines, abiding traffic signals and crosswalks.
Genevieve Tell, a Santa Catalina student who cheered from her job at Myo Frozen Yogurt, was excited by the turnout. “You can’t just sit around and wait for change to happen,” she said.
Old-timers active in social justice causes were impressed by the number of new faces, noting the far-reaching nature of economic woes. “I’ve seen [Monterey] go from a town where everyone had work to a town where people can’t afford to live,” said Carole Erickson, a retired nurse.
Marjorie Atkinson, 89, worries about continued Social Security and pension income. “This isn’t a democracy anymore, this is corporate control,” she said at the Salinas protest in front of Bank of America.
One flyer recommends people “stop supporting corporate greed” and instead invest in local credit unions and banks.
Monterey County Bank has seen a “substantial uptick” in deposits this month, according to President and Chairman Charles Chrietzberg. “I think people are just getting fed up with the big banks,” he adds. “Small community banks, we’re a victim, just like our customers, to the tactics used by large banks and financial institutions.”
With newly formed media, legal and food committees, the Facebook-based Occupy movement had reached consensus at press time for making Saturday strolls a weekly event.