Occupy Kankakee

November 20, 2011 § 3 Comments

Occupy Kankakee Rally - photo by Grant L Jackson

In the October 9th edition of The Daily Journal, a local newspaper serving the Kankakee area, I read an article about a group that called themselves “Occupy Court Street”.  They claimed to be a local group following the national Occupy Movement that began on September 17th in New York City. On the date the article was written there were about 20 protesters present, according to The Daily Journal.

A quick Google search of “Occupy Court Street” proved fruitless.  On facebook I found an inactive page for “Occupy Court Street”.  I was unable to determine if this was the Kankakee group.

A Google search of “Occupy Kankakee” led me to the web address of: www.kankakee.ws/occupy

This page included a calendar that listed a rally scheduled to be active in front of the Kankakee County Court House on November 20th, 2011.  I decided to stop by the rally to see what the protest was about.

I arrived at the Court House a little after 1pm.  There was no one there.  Assuming that the event had been cancelled, I headed home turning south on Schuyler Avenue.  I traveled one block when I saw a cardboard sign with the words “Occupy Kankakee”, handwritten, at the Schuyler Avenue Gazebo.  I pulled into the nearest parking lot to complete my task of fact-finding.

I approached a group of four adults who were gathered at the Gazebo.  I identified myself as a Media Communications student at Governors State University and asked if I could conduct a video interview regarding the rally.  Jerry Carter agreed to the interview and gave his permission to use it on the internet.  The interview is posted in it’s entirety on my YouTube page at 5020gj.

The only information I had about the occupy movement came from the mainstream media outlets on television and radio.  Those outlets have portrayed the protesters of the occupy movement as fairly radical extremists with an unclear purpose for their cause.

My interview with Jerry Carter showed a profile of a much different kind of activist.  Jerry is very clear about what he is unhappy about.  He was able to identify several occurrences of injustice within government and the corporate world.  If the reason he is protesting is to bring those injustices into public view, I think his cause is worthy.

My concern is the lack of participation within our community.  The city of Kankakee represents about 30,000 people in a county of about 100,000 people.  A showing of 4 to 20 people at a protest rally is unlikely to bring much attention to the cause.

On a national level I have another concern.  The occurrence of crime and violence at other Occupy locations seems to be on the rise.  The violence seems to be escalating on the part of protesters and police.  I surely hope that this trend does not grow in the future.

I am still not 100% clear on what the Occupy Movement stands for or what results are expected in the end.  But, based on my interview with Jerry, I can’t completely disagree with anything he said.

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