The Big Story Blog

Do you identify with Occupy Minnesota protesters?

Posted at 9:45 AM on October 11, 2011 by Paul Tosto

My MPR News colleague Madeleine Baran will check in early this afternoon on the day's Occupy Minnesota protests. But late last night she dropped in on the protest outside Hennepin County Government Center and shared some thoughts about the faces in the crowd.

The group there tonight was pretty diverse. Both facilitators were African American, and I'd say about 10 percent of the crowd was non-white (mostly African Americans and Native Americans). Most of the protesters were in their 20s or maybe early 30s. But there were also a good number (probably 30-40% when I first got there) of people who were much older -- 50s, 60s.

So the demographic of the protests might look more like you than maybe you realize.

We've been asking Minnesotans in MPR's Public Insight Network about how the see the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Minnesota protests. We'll be sharing those throughout the day.

Add your voice here.

Kim Otterson, a farmer and farrier from central Minnesota is someone we've talked to before on economic issues. She dropped us a line that captures the frustrations over this economy that are playing out in protests.

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"I'm 56 years old and have a BS degree. I've worked hard my whole life. Over the past few years, I've realized that my generation is the first in my family, that I know of, that isn't better off than the generations that came before," she wrote us. "My family has always been about working hard and making economic progress. I wondered "where did I go wrong?"

Then I heard that wages for the typical American have been stagnant (at best) since about 1973. That was the year I graduated from high school. Even before that, watching oil companies make record profits while regular folks struggled, made me wonder about what, exactly, was going on.

Watching Congress legislate to help big business and let regular folks hang in the wind makes you wonder. It began to seem like there might actually be a force at work in opposition to "regular people."

"What should the movement look like?" Good question. To succeed, you'd need people organizing who have a plan. Just protesting isn't going to change much. I think you need to consider what does "the other side" need and how can we most inconvenience them? As a friend of mine used to say, you have to decide if you want the shear joy of a good fight, or do you actually want to accomplish something? There needs to be enough thought behind it to accomplish something.

You tell us: Are you seeing anything or anyone in the protests that connect with you? Or is it just another rabble?

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(Madeleine Baran / MPR News)


About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.