One Civic Center Plaza in Irvine, Calif. has become the epicenter for peaceful but passionate protest, forming a collective of people who claim to be fed up with corporate greed and a faltering economic system.
The ongoing protest has been met with little opposition from city officials and law enforcement.
Dissenters — most of whom align with the grassroots Occupy Wall Street movement that originated in New York — have been protesting, organizing marches and shouting their demands since Oct. 15.
Occupy Irvine is one of many “satellite protests” that have risen in several U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Oakland, and Denver.
Wall Street has been “occupied” since September.
Rebecca Smallwood, 36, was in attendance for an Oct. 22 march in Irvine. “I think the important thing is the perception of people protesting,” she said. With signs that read “we are the 99 percent,” Smallwood aligns herself with a national movement that vows to topple the “one percent” of citizens who control the majority of our nation’s wealth.
A growing dissatisfaction with American financial practices was a common theme at the march. “I want the billionaires of America to pay…the percentage that we pay,” said Jennifer Schmitt, 38, whose sign read “End Corporate Greed.”
“I’m tired of seeing 40 percent of my check come out and hearing about General Electric not paying any taxes,” she said.
Many are quick to write off the protesters as uneducated and misguided at best. Some even see the opposition to capitalism as un-American. The demonstrators, however, are quick to cite their First Amendment rights. “I believe in capitalism but I think corporations have totally taken advantage of [it] and what it really stood for, what America stood for,” Schmitt said.
Orange County resident D’Marie Mulatierri saw what was happening in New York and decided to take action. “When Occupy Wall Street happened, I was very excited, but I can’t get to New York,” she said. “I started seeing some Occupies spring up and I thought, why don’t we do that out here in Orange County?’’
“I’m just an OC mom,” she said.