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A plentiful protest

Published: Sun, October 16, 2011 @ 12:04 a.m.

300 rally on Central Square to assail corporate greed, SB 5, war & more

By Sean Barron



Seventeen-year- old Alyssa Gage expressed a combination of uncertainty, concern and anger while trying to face away from a stiff wind.

More specifically, the Struthers High School junior is uncertain of her future, concerned about whether she will be able to afford to attend college and find a job and angry by what she sees as the country’s wealthiest people failing to create jobs and pay their fair share in taxes.

“The middle class is working harder than [the top 1 percent] and making nothing. The rich want to take their benefits away,” she said.

Rather than stewing in her anger, however, Alyssa became one of an estimated 300 people of all ages and walks of life to take part in Saturday’s Occupy Youngstown rally on Central Square.

The peaceful outdoor gathering was an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street protests that have galvanized people worldwide who are angry by what they see as unchecked corporate greed by the richest 1 percent who control a disproportionate amount of wealth; fraudulent home-foreclosure practices by many large banks; too much corporate money in and influence on elections; a variety of social and economic inequalities; and a lack of good-paying jobs and health care for many poor and middle-class families.

Many also called for an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Also under fire was state Issue 2, which is a referendum to Senate Bill 5 that will appear on the Nov. 8 general-election ballot. The measure would limit collective-bargaining rights for most state public employees.

Eleni Gage, Alyssa’s mother and a counselor with Turning Point Counseling in Youngstown, said she knows many people who have lost jobs, can’t get affordable health-care coverage and are losing their homes.

Another participant worried about her future was 25-year-old Erin Auld of Hubbard, who carried a bright-orange sign that read, “Capitalism = Organized Crime.”

The system no longer provides the likelihood of a livable wage and prosperity for many college graduates, said Auld, a student at Penn State University’s Shenango Campus in Sharon, Pa. Instead, many grads have to work up to 80 hours a week to make ends meet, Auld continued, adding that she attended the rally to protest corporate greed and be with like-minded people.

Many other participants made their feelings known by holding signs with messages such as “Stop fraudclosure,” “Bankers — too big to jail?” and “They get bailed out, we get sold out. We are the 99 percent,” referring to what many participants feel is 99 percent of the population being exploited by the top 1 percent.

One such participant was Howard Markert of Youngstown, who moved to the area more than two years ago from Berkeley, Calif., and owns several rental properties in the city.

Markert said that despite an excellent credit rating and being able to get a car loan, he’s been unable to obtain a loan for a home mortgage.

Markert, who owns a business that makes renovations to rental properties using green technologies, said a bank representative told him that the lending institution makes loans for those in surrounding suburbs but not in Youngstown.

“The representative told me that a car has a shorter loan period and is lower risk than a house,” Markert said, adding that such discriminatory practices also take place in Detroit, Cleveland and other so-called Rust Belt cities that suffer from blight and many homes in foreclosure.

“The banks are turning their backs on the communities that built America and built those banks,” he added.

Several speakers addressed the crowd, including Atty. Staughton Lynd, a longtime historian and peace activist who was a major participant in the effort in the late 1970s to keep area steel mills open.

Lynd urged participants to work with one another, remain strong and maintain solidarity among themselves and with other similar movements.

“Occupy Wall Street chose a fixed target and you have no end date to your presence,” he told the enthusiastic attendees. “Only when you stay can you put down roots.”

Lynd called for an end to debt that makes it difficult for many college students to pursue their dreams. He also urged his audience to vote no on Issue 2, demanded an end to Ohio’s death penalty, and supported efforts to grow produce locally that offers full-time employment to inner-city youngsters.

Lynd’s wife, Alice, predicted that Occupy Youngstown and similar movements will experience conflicts and disagreements, but urged people to be nonviolent and respect their adversaries.

“Be what you think society should be,” she said, echoing Mohandas Gandhi, India’s political and ideological leader during the Indian Independence Movement, who advocated for nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience.

SB 5 is positive because it served as a means to arouse people to organize, noted Jacob Harver, owner of The Lemon Grove Caf restaurant on West Federal Street. Harver also spoke against corporations’ corrosive effects on many elections.

“We’re not going to take it anymore! Enough is enough!” shouted state Sen. Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, D-60th.

Hagan was referring to what he called “the blame game,” in which banks and corporations create economic problems, then blame teachers, safety-force members the poor and others who are struggling for their plight.

Also denouncing Issue 2 was Tracey Wright, a 19-year Youngstown firefighter who worried that limiting bargaining rights also would impede her ability to protect residents and co-workers.

“The process [that led to SB 5] is very unfair, unacceptable and unreasonable,” she said.

Other speakers included Dr. Raymond E. Beiersdorfer, a professor of geological and environmental sciences at Youngstown State University, and his wife, Susie; Brandon Smith and Chuck Kettering, both of whom helped organize the event; Thomas Sabatini a history instructor at YSU and Kent State University’s Trumbull Campus; and Ray Nakely, director of the Arab American Community Center of Greater Youngstown.


1ghostofjohnyoung(163 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Good report.

There are some good folks in that mix.

"Markert, who owns a business that makes renovations to rental properties using green technologies, said a bank representative told him that the lending institution makes loans for those in surrounding suburbs but not in Youngstown."

That's pretty messed up, but understandable.

The value of an average new car exceeds the market value of an average inner city Youngstown home.

Considering the crime that is more than 2x higher than national "average" and failing school district (worst in state), real estate in Youngstown is a terrible investment.

Clearly, the risk assessors at lending institutions know this and won't underwrite these loans.

My question is whether this fellow has dealt with all the locally based banks and credit unions to see what they do locally. Surely, someone writes loans here.

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2ghostofjohnyoung(163 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

/ We are a nation of laws and a democracy where the laws are made in the halls of legislatures, not in the streets. /

The United States is a REPUBLIC.

Part of our problems today is too many operate this country as a democracy and want to export such. They ought to be exporting the beliefs behind a REPUBLIC.

Laws being made in halls of legislatures are exactly one of the main problems. Who is in these halls? Guess what, it isn't the 99%. Who represents the 99%?

Who roams those halls with lawmakers? Lobbyists.

Lobbyists not only roam the halls and chat corporate interests up, but they write most of the legislation. True fact.

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3author50(1121 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

I hear that Comrade Jacob Harver who owns the "The (Taxpayer funded) Lemon Grove has actually RAISED his prices while the masses feed and drink at his bar (HQ for Occupy Youngstown). One would think he would be passing out food and drink for free, but then again how could he afford his $1200 a month rent at the luxury Realty Towers if he didn't throw in a little capitalism?

As for the 'thethinker' - right on the button.

As for Comrade Bob Hagan - why don't you baptise all those true believers of yours in the Mahoning River?

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4glbtactivist(320 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Finally the public realizes that the government is owned by a greedy few, not the majority. Hopefully democracy can solve the problem. Certainly masses of citizens in the public square showing their frustration is a good start.

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5Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago


Liquidate the corporations, share in the booty and apply for foreign aid .


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6lee(544 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

300 and that's a lot but when the Tea Party got close to 1000 in Lisbon your paper didn't even report it??? Can you spell bias???

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7chuck_carney(499 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Politically I am an independent libertarian who is unhappy with our government including President O'bama, Rep. Ryan and Sen. Sherrod Brown (all of whom i voted for at least once). I was goint to observe the rally and the ideas they presented until i read that Mr. Hagan was going to speak. At that point i knew a major portion of the occupy event was going to be a rally against SB5.

I would suggest that the organizers stay away from all politicians if they want me to even attend future matters and to support your positions.

Next, articulate a clear focus. Don't simply overstate the problems. Suggest solutions so everyone knows where you are headed.

I worked hard for my retirement funds. I didn't like the bailouts of the banks and GM. And frankly,Now, I don't want to subsidize well paid government employees. However, i support your proposal to end the Federal Reserve but I wonder if many people truly understand the negative effects of this quasi government body has on our ecomony. it is deeply rooted in secret manipulation of our economy.

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8blutarsky(25 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

i was on my way down there to protest (get high) and my gm car broke down. i was looking forward to not showering and getting high for a few days. oh well, back to my parents house to play video games. life as a democrat ain't easy.

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9republicanRick(1716 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Every single person mentioned in the article owes their livelyhood to government -- students, counselors at government run agency, Lemon Grove (which received government money to open), the fellow that owns Section 8 rentals, and Atty Lynd (an avowed socialist who gets all his money from government cases).

We, the taxpayers, support these people and damnit...they want MORE money from us. More, more, more they want from all of us -- and if they don't get it they will protest some more !

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10db(280 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

blutarsky, I saw on the news that they had free potato soup & pumpkin pie; and young Harver will let you warm up in his Lemon Grove which Hippie Hagan got him gov't grants for. Maybe you oughtta hit your dad up for gas money & head back on down.

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11Bigben(1996 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

"This rally had in its list of complaints, SB5, the greedy rich, the greedy banks, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, corporate influence in elections, fraudulent foreclosures, the lack of health care and probably many other issues." - - The people realize that if you follow the money trail it will lead up to the fraudulent banking practices.If you can make money from nothing and charge interest for that instead of having Government do it interest free as it is written in the US Constitution then many ills follow.

Many folks are beginning to understand that the Federal Reserve deregulated the banking industry and held them hostage -crazy loans .Crazy loans were not suppose to exist -ever.They did though-why? Why was this intentionally done? You can say people were stupid for taking them.OK I won't disagree but why did they exist when regulations were in place to prevent them? - -Did this deregulating effect only those who took a crazy loan ? Nope-neighborhoods across the country were effected.
It is like this with many of the Big banks actions that is why you see people pissed for a variety of reasons.It doesn't mean they are all over the place it means it effected them in various ways.Some lost retirement because of it, some home value , some will be paying more for tuition , we all pay more for food ect.
You mention the war in Iraq-Quite honestly it wasn't a part of the war on terror.So what was it? Did anyone make money on it?
You mention corporate influence in elections - - Again where is the money going and why? Were there any corporations that may have been able to influence government through contributions that would have benefited from invading Iraq?Who owns these corporations?
Now free college -or 20 minimum wage -yeah that is out there and off subject and your going to have some of that in any movement or protest..

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12Bigben(1996 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

"Liquidate the corporations, share in the booty and apply for foreign aid ." - -Oh you mean like the corporations have had impunity to liquidate American's retirement accounts and then give themselves a bailout?

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