"Occupy Fort Lauderdale" Movement Holds First Demonstration (PHOTOS)

Categories: Politics
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Photos by Stefan Kamph
They started outside the federal courthouse and marched -- on the sidewalk, escorted by police -- to the front steps of Scott Rothstein's old digs on Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. Outside the restaurant space where the local Ponzi king once cut his porterhouse, people gathered with American flags, cardboard signs, painted T-shirts, and all manner of propaganda. They weren't the tea party -- too many young people and minorities -- and they weren't the usual crowd of activists that exists and protests below the radar in any city. They were mamas and papas and, yes, a few little kids, including one dressed up in prison orange. This was Occupy Fort Lauderdale.

But what exactly were their demands? Did they have specifics? Reporters struggling to understand the concept of mass revolt have asked. But we'll get to that later. Here's what you need to know: Civil unrest has gone mainstream again. 

A few weeks ago, we published a story about the anarchistic Food Not Bombs movement, including scenes from a "consensus meeting" in which the members communicated using hand signals to agree, disagree, or amend the discussion. It seemed a little esoteric, like a secret language in a club.

Well, no longer: After the 200 or so people marched, again along the sidewalk, again escorted by quiet, traffic-stopping cops, to the Bubier Park stage, they started letting people get up and speak for a couple of minutes. And one organizer, Jessica Wilson, explained the hand signals. "This will be the most important one," she said, raising her hands above her head and wiggling her fingers, signaling agreement.

That sign showed up again and again across the crowd seated and standing on the grass, as speakers aired their own grievances and outlined a sort of moral code for the protests.

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Gordon Svieveke addresses the crowd.
Gordon Svieveke, a yoga instructor and therapist, read some of Martin Luther King Jr.'s six principles of nonviolence. "Those that we think are different from us are not the enemy," he said to a silent cheer of open hands. 

A young man who identified himself as Jared publicly thanked the Fort Lauderdale Police Department for its cooperation with the protesters and contrasted it with the harsher actions taken in recent weeks by police in New York.

"When I first saw people waking up around the world," he said, "I never thought I'd see it here."

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"Street medic" Robb Muise (right) talks to law enforcement officials.
Brian Sprinkle, one of the founders of the local Food Not Bombs movement and a prolific local activist, also helped put together the protest. He said the crowd had been even larger as it moved from the courthouse to the Bank of America Plaza.

Robb Muise, who has been mentioned on our blog in the past for his Tea Party counterdemonstrations, was on the scene with a red cross duct-taped to his black T-shirt; he was serving as a "street medic" in case anybody got hurt (or happened to find his way into a cloud of pepper spray). He said he got EMT training "for handy situations like this." Before the march to the park, he stood on the steps of the office building and told everybody to pick up their trash. "Pick up your trash," the people's mic echoed on the sidewalk.

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Other speeches were more specific: one man talked about how private hospitals may deny care to the uninsured; complaints about underemployment were heard repeatedly. 

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A man records the proceedings on his computer.
​Christopher Clark, wearing biking gear and holding his bicycle (he had ridden up from Hollywood for the event), was one of the first to speak. Clark tells the Pulp that he works as a corporate recruiter and has dealt with executives from various Fortune 500 companies. Even they, the ones who make maybe a quarter-million dollars a year, are feeling pressure from above, he says. 

"If you make less than a hundred million dollars a year," said one speaker, to laughter, cheers, and an echo from the crowd, "you are part of the 99 percent."

After the speeches, organizers planned to move into "working groups" to plan the future of the movement and discuss specific areas: medical volunteers, musical accompaniment, and logistics. We'll have more updates from the movement and reactions as they come in. If you have photographs or videos of the protest, please feel free to provide a link in the comments below.

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The gathering grows in Bubier Park.

Stefan Kamph is a New Times staff writer.
The Pulp: Facebook | @thePulpBPB
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11 comments
FQS9000
FQS9000

5.5 million people in Ft. Lauderdale and 200 are protesting.  That is 0.0036%.  There are that many left handed, red haired, one legged, anthropologists here.  Nobody in their right mind with the intelligence of a duck could term these fools to be 'main stream' anything.  There are that many people in Ft Lauderdale who want to build a 90 foot concrete memorial to Joe Stalin on the beach.  This is a non story.

nanook5
nanook5

to whoever said from the FNB article that "sparkly fingers is a bit creepy;" i now shove this in your face.

Ron Gunzburger
Ron Gunzburger

Hey Stefan:  Here are two dozen pix from today's Fort Lauderdale protests:http://www.flickr.com/photos/r... What a great day it was to see to global winds of freedom and economic justice reaching our community!!

Guest
Guest

I AM NOT ANONYMOUS. I AM AN AMERICAN.

I am not just a Consumer. I am a Citizen.

I will no longer be labeled Left or Right, Liberal or Conservative, Demopublican or Republocrat.

I will no longer follow Puppets labeled Left or Right, Liberal or Conservative, Demopublican or Republocrat.

I am the People. And I am coming for the Puppetmasters.

I am part of the 99 Percent. And I demand the following:

1. End the Fed.

2. Reverse Citizens United.

3. Repeal PATRIOT Act.

4. Expose 9/11 Truth.

5. End Profit Wars.

6. Refund Taxpayer Trillions.

7. Imprison the Kleptocrats.

8. Single Term Limits.

Or, if these demands are not addressed promptly:

1. Regime Change.

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." - John F. Kennedy

Chaz Stevens, Genius
Chaz Stevens, Genius

Atomic Robb rules!!!!!!!

PS What's the keyboard emoticon for wiggling my fingers in the air?

It's not

<°))><

or this:

:-)>....

Virgil Starkwell
Virgil Starkwell

I think you are jealous that these people are trumping your "little" local stuff.

This is the movement you should be devoting your energy to, instead of inviting Allen West over for a Root Beer.

It is this movement that has a chance of changing the world.

What you've done in Deerfield Beach is honorable, but it is time to leave the minor leagues and join the show.

And because I know you are driven by the need for recognition, which is perfectly normal, you have a greater chance of recognition, on a national level, with this movement.

Put your big boy pants on and get out there.

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