Lecture series addresses Occupy Wall Street movement

Lilly Necker/Sun Star Reporter
Nov. 15, 2011

UAF anthropology student Ethan Sinsabaugh speaks on Oct. 14, 2011 during the open microphone event that he and the other protesters set up to give everyone a voice. Lilly Necker/Sun Star

What started as a peaceful protest against the injustices faced by 99 percent  has become more and more a bloody affair between protesters and the police. Videos and pictures of police using baton and pepper spray and protesters with gaping head injuries are surfacing.

Three weeks ago, hundreds of protesters got into a fight with the police during a march in Manhattan, which the Daily Mail publicized as “The Battle of Wall Street.” The protestors intended to confront New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a restaurant. Overall “between 1000 and 1,500 people have reportedly been arrested in protest across the United States” so far, according to the Daily Mail. The wave of protest  reached the rest of the world. Two weeks ago Australian police removed an Occupy Melbourne group from City Square with “force,” according to a quote from Premier Ted Ballieu in the Australian newspaper Harold Sun.

UAF assistant professor Sean Parson will present his lecture “Parks, Permits, and Riot Police: Reflections on the OWS Movement and Police Reactions” on the Wednesday, Nov. 16.

“I plan on using the police and political responses to the Occupy Wall Street Protests to discuss some philosophic and political questions, such as the nature and legitimization of violence, the commodification of public space and the role of the police in a consumer capitalist state,” Parson said.

His first lecture, “The Radical Potential of the Occupy Wall Street Protest,” on Oct.13 ended up moving into a bigger room in the Gruening Building because so many people showed up to listen.

Philosophy student Ryan Sanders, president of philosophy club Socratic Society, asked Parson to hold a similar talk again.

“I attended Dr. Parson’s lecture and was very impressed with his presentation, as well as the number of attendees. Unfortunately he only had one hour to present, and I felt he needed more time,” Sanders said. “Also, as a founding member of Occupy Fairbanks, I felt it was my responsibility to bring Dr. Parson’s ideas and thoughts to the Fairbanks community to help them understand what is going on not only here in Fairbanks, but across the globe.”

The lecture will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the UAF Schaible Auditorium with “space for questions and hopefully a discussion,” the Parson said. Parson has worked at UAF for two years since he finished his PHD at the University of Oregon.

“There is currently a lot of serious problems that the United States, as well as the world, faces. These problems are all very complex and require a knowledgeable and engaged political community,” Parson said. “An engaged and informed populace is especially important in a country that prides itself on being a representative democracy.”

Sanders, with Christopher Goodwin and Ethan Sinsabaugh, has led Occupy Fairbanks since its beginning on campus.

“As a citizen of the United States, it is imperative to be informed and active within the political spectrum, exercise the rights of peaceful assembly and the freedom of speech,” Sanders said.

“This event is an opportunity for students, faculty and staff of UAF, as well as the Fairbanks community to raise their questions on a major movement that is addressing many issues that affect them today,” Sanders said. “If they want learned perspectives on the Occupy Wall Street Movement and be informed of the situation, they should attend.”

While this lecture will happen in the warm walls of  the Bunnell Building, Sinsabaugh and the other Occupy Fairbanks protesters are still out in the cold preparing for a statewide assembly meeting that will be in Anchorage.

Once, while occupying the gazebo at the Veterans’ Memorial Park, the police told the group to leave or be arrested. Even after this confrontation, they’re not giving up.

“We are not stopping our occupation, and will be out in the cold for the foreseeable future.” Sinsabaugh said in an email he wrote while in the gazebo at Veteran’s park.

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