Occupy Grand Rapids

Occupy Grand Rapids is re-launching the movement after several months of lying low. The group doesn't have specific demands, “it’s not one thing, it’s everything,” the group’s facebook page says.

But several of its members say issues like income inequality, corporate influence, and housing security are important to them.

Anita Finch drove up from Kalamazoo to take part in the renewed effort. She says strong protest movements build over time; like the anti-war movement in the 1960s.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

In sharp contrast to the chaos at many shopping centers during Black Friday, Occupy Grand Rapids held an event today encouraging people to buy nothing.

“This isn’t the way that Christmas has to be, you know?”

Mandi Creveling lined up clothes, books, kids toys and electronics in neat rows on top of a blue tarp. All of it is up for grabs at the “really free market”. She’s been organizing free markets in Grand Rapids for about 5 years. It’s like a flea market, but where everything is free.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

39-year-old Richard Ertle and 23-year-old Ryan Gillikin share their thoughts today on WBUR's nationally syndicated "Here and Now" program.

Gillikin graduated recently for Grand Valley State University. He's been protesting with the Grand Rapids group since it began earlier this month. He waits tables in between protests.

Ertle is a student at Grand Rapids Community College studying network administration. I've seen him at the occupy protests downtown every time I've visited or biked by. He freelances for small and medium sized businesses providing networking services.

Ertle and Gillikin both told host Robin Young they don't speak for everyone at the protests, and they don't all agree on why they're protesting. "But we listen to one another," Ertle said, "which is more than what our elected representatives are willing to do."

Here and Now airs on Michigan Radio at 1p.m. weekdays.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

People inspired by the “Occupy Wall Street” protests in New York showed up at a Democratic fundraiser hosted by Vice President Joe Biden Wednesday evening.

Biden made stops in Flint and Grand Rapids to promote President Obama’s American Jobs Act before switching to campaign mode.

At least 50 protesters marched on the sidewalk outside the $500 per dinner private event. The event raised money for the 2012 presidential election.

“We can get Mr. Biden’s attention,” Richard Ertl said. He’s wearing a sticker on the back of his head that reads “we are the 99%”. “We can get them to listen to us and know that we’re starting to gel up and become cohesive as a people,” Ertl said.

Ertl and other say they’re not protesting Biden but want to send a message. He says protestors want politicians to listen to one another and work together to solve the nation’s financial problems. 

“Occupy Grand Rapids" held its first big meeting over the weekend. They’re now camping out in a church parking lot (private property) downtown after spending several days in a public park near the Grand River.

He says they meet for general assemblies everyday at noon and 6 p.m.