occupy wall street

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Across Michigan and the rest of the country today, Occupy Wall Street groups plan to symbolically ‘occupy’ homes on the brink of foreclosure. Meanwhile, Occupy activists in Flint are launching a campaign they say will have lasting influence on their city.    

Occupy Flint members are organizing a campaign to put a question on the ballot next year that would start the charter revision process. Flint is under the oversight of an emergency manager. A state review panel decided the city’s multi-million dollar deficit created a ‘financial emergency’.   

Michael Burton is with the Occupy Flint group. He said residents must correct the city’s systemic problems, so Flint will be ready for life ‘after’ the emergency manager’s job is done. 

"That is just the small changes we hope…to affect in order to start making positive changes…and get the city of Flint back up to speed," said Burton.   

Burton said Occupy Flint does not have any specific changes it plans to recommend to the city charter. The group only hopes to get the conversation started.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

In cities across Michigan, Occupy groups are holding protests.

It's part of a national "Day of Action," called following clashes in some cities between Occupy protesters and police ordered to evict them from city parks. Occupy encampments in Michigan have either been allowed to continue or are breaking up for the winter with little or no police intervention.

In Flint, a small group of sign waving protesters stood outside city hall at noon.

A man who identified himself as Shadee said the movement is still coming together. 

"And that’s what we need is for people to come together…from all walks of life…from different factions…and make our voices heard," said Shadee. "Hopefully we can change the system around to one that benefits the people…and not just corporations, you know."  

The Occupy Wall Street movement started two months ago in New York.

Michigan Municipal League

The Occupy movement has expanded beyond Wall Street. A number of cities in Michigan have Occupy demonstrations, including Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Lansing.

Lansing Mayor, Virg Bernero says he's been "..protesting Wall Street since before it was fashionable." He welcomes the demonstrators.

"It costs money to arrest people and to cordon off areas. And so our goal was to not arrest anybody, and we made that clear when they got here."

I drove into downtown Traverse City on Saturday afternoon, and to my surprise, found an Occupy Wall Street demonstration occupying both sides of Front Street, the town’s main drag.

Well, it was actually called an “Occupy Traverse City,” demonstration. The protestors, who numbered perhaps fifty or sixty, seemed more cheerful than angry. The weather was brisk but pleasant; it was a nice day to be outside.

david_shankbone / flickr

Hundreds of people of all ages turned out in downtown Detroit for an event they’re billing “Occupy Detroit.” It’s part of a movement that started on Wall Street and has spread across the country.

"It’s to wake up," said Dobey Gavin of Detroit. "With the trickle-down economics, it just don’t work no more in America."

Richard Black is an Army veteran from Warren. He says he’s never come out to protest, but he’s fed up. Especially with politicians.

"I don’t believe that they work for the people any longer, I think they work for whoever pays them," he said. "And it’s got to stop. It’s got to stop."

Protestors plan to meet at 7 p.m. to talk about goals for the movement in Detroit.

Some of the protestors plan to pitch tents and take up residence in Grand Circus Park, near the stadiums and theater district.

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.

Michigan Senator Carl Levin says the U-S Congress is facing fundamental questions about whether it can continue to function.

Levin spoke at the Detroit Economic Club Monday.

Levin spoke in spoke in personal terms about “the dilemma that I and other members of Congress face.”

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The “Occupy Wall Street” campaign is starting to pop up in towns and cities across Michigan.  

Last night the campaign came to Ann Arbor.  

A crowd of about a hundred gathered on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor to talk and listen. Many in the crowd have been inspired by the anti-corporate protest that’s been taking place on Wall Street for the past several weeks.  Others were just curious.