Students protest for economic equality

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A few St. Thomas students gathered Saturday in downtown Minneapolis outside the Minnesota courthouse building in the U.S. Bank Plaza to demonstrate for economic equality in the U.S.

Senior Aaron Hays said police intervened early Sunday morning after tents were erected.

“Protesters set up tents in the area police previously said you couldn’t set up tents,” Hays said.

“Police came out to take down the tents and arrest people. Protesters were prepared for it, and we had about 60 to 70 people blockade,” Hays said. “Police decided just to take down tents and not arrest people.”

Police presence and intervention has not deterred protesters.

“There is talk about setting up more tents and pushing it farther,” Hays said.

What started as protests on Wall Street almost a month ago has spread across the globe. In Arizona nearly 100 people were arrested Saturday night.

Junior Anthony Guidotti, a student demonstrator, said there are more than 1,000 cities across the world where protesters are demonstrating frustration with their governments.

Guidotti believes people are protesting because the U.S. has become a “plutocracy” and has lost touch with democratic principles the nation was founded on.

“The richest 400 have more capital than the poorest 160 million Americans,” Guidotti said. “That’s not acceptable.”

St. Thomas students have participated in the event since it began three weeks ago. Two weeks ago, 19 students attended the event, and five spent the night, Guidotti said.

Junior Sarah Beyer protested Saturday because she wanted the public to gain awareness.

“I go to a school where I will be graduating with nearly $100,000 in student-loan debt, working two jobs the entire time,” Beyer said. “I think educated people such as myself shouldn’t have to be in this position.”

Not all agree with the protests.

Recent St. Thomas graduate Charlie Hilligoss said, “I am not a big fan… It seems like people want something done, so they pretend like they are making a difference… There are jobs available, right? Instead of sitting around waiting for the government to do something for you, just go do it yourself.”

Junior Channing James is optimistic, “I hope that something actually comes from this. I hope that it is not just in vain.” James said, “I came out because I believe in the movement. I don’t know all the facts, but I understand I am part of the 99 percent, and I don’t agree with the idea that the one percent is influencing most of the decisions in this country.”

Blankets, food, cigarettes, protest signs and materials to make signs, were all provided to the protesters by the organizers. The annual anti-war protest was happening concurrently in south Minneapolis, Saturday, and some protesters from Occupy Minnesota temporarily switched venues.

“The annual anti-war protest is happening today…so at this point they are organizing over there. A lot of people are over there and plan to come back over here after,” Guidotti said. “I feel that in the afternoon after people come back, attendance will jump here.”

It is unclear how long these protests will continue.

Patrick Roche can be reached at

17 Replies to “Students protest for economic equality”

  1. I’m glad youth are getting involved in this, because students should understand that the decisions politicians are making today is affecting our future. The future isn’t looking too good for us after St. Thomas, and personally, I don’t want to pay for the mess older generations are leaving on us. The corporations and the 1% should share the burden.

  2. I think it’s slightly rediculous that people think there’s a consipriancy of the richeset 1% secretly running the country. Take a civics class and learn how the government actually works, rather than just listening to mildly clever sound bites and slogans. These protests are just another sign of how and why America has lost its stature as the dominant player in the world: too many people love criticising everyone else, but no one wants to actually work together and put forth some substantial ideas. And for record, neither “tax the rich” nor the “9-9-9” tax plan are actual substantial ideas. Go freedom of speech I guess.

  3. This isn’t about laziness or ineptitude. This isn’t about telling others how to use their money. This movement is an attempt to shed light on the vast inequality of wealth in this country and the effects that it has on the majority of the population. Here are a few graphs to explain the numbers:

    I love the United States of America and the potential it has. I have a great job, I’m getting a good education in a field I’m interested in. But I was still down there camping out on Night Number One. Because this is important.

    The American public is being hit by economic chaos – loss and lack of jobs, climbing poverty rates, national debt and imbalanced budgets. Meanwhile, the wealthy are becoming MORE wealthy by every standard. The banks are taking the brunt of the attack because they play games with our money without producing a visible product.

    Unfortunately, the spirit of investigative journalism in main stream media has been replaced with corporate pocket-lining. This leads to the majority of Americans simply not KNOWING about these problems. This isn’t a protest, it isn’t a leftist or extremist movement – this is a movement for everyone. This is a discussion that needs to be had.

    Start the discussion, make change, save the…

  4. What should the wealthy do? Stop accumulating wealth? The top 3% of Americans (households earning more the $250,000 a year or single individuals earning more $150,000 a year) already contribute 47.9% of all Federal Income taxes. They are contributing their fair share.

    It’s inevitable that the rich will continue to get rich. In a recession things are essentially discounted such as securities, housing, etc. They are merely buying things at discount and waiting for the stock market to inevitably go up, cash out at that time, and gain capital off of their investment. Can you be upset with someone making sound, smart, rational financial decisions?     

    Also, accumulation of wealth motivates individuals to create more jobs. If one would like to generate more wealth the best way to do that would be to expanded their business, be that size or diversification in the product, causing an increase in revenue.This expansion will ultimately lead to job creation. The individual now has more wealth and there is more jobs in the economy. I can’t find a problem with this.    

  5. @Donnie
    What the wealthy should do is start investing that wealth. The trickle down theory doesn’t seem to work, especially seeing as they continue to enjoy the tax breaks that Bush gave them when he was prez.
    Wealth inequality is staggering and should be addressed which is what the occupy movement is trying to bring awareness to. that ratio you used illustrates this inequality in income…

  6. @Donnie: That’s great in theory, except many of the jobs are being created overseas where corporations can charge next-to-nothing for labor.

  7. You know what else would create jobs? Spending on infrastructure. Spending on education. Spending on research.

    Where do we get this money? A fairly revised taxation code, putting an end to speculation with the citizen’s money, cutting military spending.

    I’m not saying that companies don’t do good things. They do, they have the potential to create jobs, they have the potential to make great changes and provide great services to the American public.

    The problem is that they aren’t. It’s not that the wealthy are growing more wealthy, it’s that they are growing more wealthy in relation to the rest of us while the rest of us draw closer to widespread poverty.

    Our government is supposed to be of/by/for the people. The government is supposed to be our voice, the companies have money – they own news outlets, lobbying groups, everything. All we have is our constitutional right to fight back for fair treatment. We gave them a chance to fix this, we gave them MONEY to fix this – instead, they tossed a pillow under us as we fell off of a building before they went inside to get dinner.

    So now it is the government’s turn to step up and do something about it, and we’re trying to tell them that.

  8. And I don’t care about the top 3%. The top 1% is over $380,000 a year. And they may contribute a solid chunk of taxes. But after looking at those graphs above, the amount of wealth they have contributed versus the amount they have gained and held is painfully disparate.

  9. Capitalism, that is the system and that is how it works. if you don’t like it, go to some socialist country where hardworking people have to pay for the lazy. if you want to have a discussion about inequality, do it in a non disruptive way.

    @Donnie, Having wealth does not mean one creates jobs. That is BS, we all know it.

  10. Look at it this way: Hypothetically (a metaphor, yeah!), let us say that the top 3% of students at UST have a 3.9 or above GPA. The majority of students fall in the 2.5-3.5 GPA region. The students who fall in the latter GPA range are outraged that other students are doing better than they are academically. They start a protest demanding that those top 3% students start sharing their GPA with them. Why have this top 3% when they could lower their own GPA to increase the pool of averageness/equality pervading society. The average GPA earners also want to be tutored by this top 3% because they can’t solve the problems or do the classwork on their own. It’s not fair that these 3% can excel while the rest of us “regular joes” struggle daily to get our average GPA. 

    Sounds stupid doesn’t it! Are you saying the students (3.9+ GPA) who worked hard with their natural born talents and intellectual gifts should be responsible for tutoring the the other 97% of students on campus? That they are responsible for your low GPA? Welcome to the real world. There are winners and there are losers. Crying and whining never solved any of my problems.

    You don’t like what the government is doing? This is a democracy…blame the stupidity of the American voters. 

  11. Economic equality is attained by working hard and making sacrifices – not by demanding that the rich hand out more money to the poor. Should the rich contribute more to charities that help the poor? Yes, absolutely. But should the poor be more willing to accept their state in life and realize that only through their hard work (not government handouts) can they attain greater economic freedom? Yes, absolutely.

  12. I know that God has given us the use of goods, but only so far as necessary; and he has determined that the use be common. It is absurd and disgraceful for one to live magnificently and luxuriously when so many are hungry.

    …Clement of Alexandria (150-215), Patrologia Graeca, Vol 8:543
    cited in John R. Meader, The Common Cause, 1911, Vol 1, p 23

    Behold how only a few things suffice for you; nor does God ask much of you. Seek as much as He has given you, and from that take as much as is necessary; the superfluous things which remain are the necessaries of others. The superfluities of the rich are the necessaries of the poor. They who possess superfluities possess the goods of others.

    …Augustine (354-430), Patrologia Latina, Vol 37:1922
    cited in John R. Meader, The Common Cause, 1911, Vol 1, p 23

  13. @Douglas, Your God did not give us anything. Everything we have we created, made and worked for ourselves. I have never seen God waking up early in the morning to help me or my parents for that matter work. Do not throw  your God and his teachings around.

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