More than 50 people gathered Wednesday evening on Augusta Common for the first general assembly of Occupy Augusta, a local movement of the Occupy Wall Street protests spreading across the nation.
People used a megaphone to speak about their reasons for joining, issues they wanted to champion and logistics for upcoming protests.
Although the group has no designated leaders, a few people moderated the discussion and suggested times for their first protest, or “occupation.”
After member Maple Dynan suggested a protest from 5 to 9 tonight, the group agreed by a show of hands. About 30 people raised their hands to indicate they would be at the protest, which will be at the common, on Broad Street between Eighth and Ninth streets.
After a reading of the first amendment of Occupy Augusta’s constitution, the microphone was open to anyone. The statements included general cautions about staying unified and criticisms of political leaders and government policies.
Yoni James encouraged people to leave divisive issues for a different time.
“Wedge issues, those tiny issues that divide and conquer us, it’s going to separate people,” he said. “I want us to keep the solidarity.”
The protest tonight will be the first of many the group plans to stage. While they will start at Augusta Common, the protests might branch out to different areas.
Joey Traina, the president of Richmond County Young Democrats and a member of the group, suggested Occupy Augusta stage protest in front of local banks.
“What about Queensborough (National Bank and Trust)? They were bailed out, too,” he said.
Lindsey Morris calls herself a member of the Occupy Augusta movement, but says she wants to keep the movement an “American thing,” not something that is defined by political parties or even social classes.
“I’d like to work with our mayor and commissioners and see how we can work together,” she said. “Instead of pointing fingers, we need to come together and come up with solutions.”