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Saturday, June 12, 2021
<p>Gainesville activist Jesse Schmidt stands before a crowd of about 120 people as Occupy Gainesville rallies on the steps of City Hall Wednesday evening. Occupy Gainesville is a splinter group of Occupy Wall Street, a movement to "stop corporate greed and corrupt politics," according to occupywallst.org.</p>

Gainesville activist Jesse Schmidt stands before a crowd of about 120 people as Occupy Gainesville rallies on the steps of City Hall Wednesday evening. Occupy Gainesville is a splinter group of Occupy Wall Street, a movement to "stop corporate greed and corrupt politics," according to occupywallst.org.

College towns are joining a national movement, and Gainesville is no exception.

The Occupy Wall Street protest has now spread to 75 college campuses, according to the Occupy Colleges website.

Occupy Wall Street is a protest in New York City to voice the opinion of the 99 percent of the population that isn't as wealthy as the top 1 percent, said Maya Garner, a member of Occupy Gainesville.

Occupy Gainesville held an informational meeting Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza.

The meeting was held to organize the efforts that will parallel those of the Occupy Wall Street protesters.

At first, the plaza was the scene of the meeting, but once the crowd became too large it moved across the street to the front of City Hall.

"We have no country in a sense," said Jesse Schmidt, a Gainesville activist.

He described the Occupy Gainesville protest as a revival of the fight against multinational corporations.

"We are standing with brothers and sisters all over the world," Schmidt said.

While the movement is not led by anyone in particular, multiple organizations are involved.

"We don't have the future that was promised to our parents," said Jeremiah Tattersall, organizer of Fight Back Florida, a group dedicated to making sure union and student issues are represented in Florida.

He said if an Occupy UF protest was to start, it would be at the Plaza of Americas.

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Students for Democratic Society protested at Tigert Hall in September against tuition hikes, said Eric Brown, a first-year political science major.

He said Occupy Gainesville is working against corruption created by corporate loans, bailouts and unreasonable interest rates.

"It's a nice sense of community," he said. "Everyone is coming together for a common goal."

Brown found out about SDS at a summer rally during his first semester at the UF and said he was immediately impressed by the student group.

"If you are a freshman or a senior, [the tuition hike] affects everyone," he said.

Joe Walters, a fifth-year management major, said the Occupy Gainesville movement is the first protest he has ever had a stake in.

"People's livelihoods should never be sacrificed for a dollar," he said.

Gainesville activist Jesse Schmidt stands before a crowd of about 120 people as Occupy Gainesville rallies on the steps of City Hall Wednesday evening. Occupy Gainesville is a splinter group of Occupy Wall Street, a movement to "stop corporate greed and corrupt politics," according to occupywallst.org.

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