Over 150 demonstrators gathered on Thursday outside the Robert E. Coyle Federal Building in Fresno – with two different reasons to organize.
The protest, which was planned over three months in advance, was originally the brainchild of Peace Fresno in an effort to support the “October 2011” demonstration in Washington, D.C., which was organized to remember the 10 year anniversary of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan.
“We planned these four hour-long demonstrations in solidarity with that,” Dan Yaseen said, a representative for Peace Fresno. He said Peace Fresno has three additional demonstrations planned to take place at the Federal Building and at the River Park shopping center.
The recent Occupy Wall Street movement prompted outside organizers to align Thursday’s demonstration with the movement in New York City, calling it “Occupy Fresno.”
“Occupy Wall Street was not even in the mix at the time [of planning],” Yaseen said. He added that many of those in attendance for Occupy Fresno found out about the demonstration only a few days in advance via Facebook.
Yaseen said the two groups of demonstrators came together as one in the demonstration.
“The whole agenda is to end corporate rule. The corporate control of everything, corporate control of our government, corporate control of our lives,” Yaseen said.
To others, however, the two different messages at the demonstration caused some frustration and confusion.
Babs Eskin, who came out to support the Occupy Fresno efforts, said combining the two causes had its disadvantages.
“I personally think it should be focused on this today. I think it confuses the message. We need to stay on point all the time, and this is the point,” she said.
Eskin said she anticipated a more concrete message at the demonstration.
“I’m not in charge of anything and neither are they,” said Eskin. “This is people on the street to join this on their movement. That’s all.”
Inside the Robert E. Coyle Federal Building, a retirement party was taking place for Magistrate Judge Sandra Snyder. When asked their thoughts on the events outside, some federal employees and guests claimed they did not know why people assembled in front of the building.
With an incohesive group of demonstrators and a lack of recognition from those inside the Federal Building, some wondered if there is a point to the demonstrations.
Brian Baker, a Fresno resident, said he came out to support many who are in his situation. He said he was laid off two years ago from a “very high paying job.” Today, he is receiving food stamps.
“This is such a mish-mash of people that its hard to tell what is going on. It’s nice to see that people coming out and talking about the issue, but you’ve got people from the Tea Party to the Socialists here,” said Baker. “It does show that the people are concerned, and that at least will raise the issues.”
Demonstrations will continue at 4:30 PM today at the Federal Building on 2500 Tulare St. and through the weekend starting at 1 PM at River Park shopping center.
Brian Baker: Diverse crowd shows people are concerned.
Babs Eskin: Demonstrating as an alternative to the electoral process.
Justin Thomason: Supporter of “capitalist brothers.”