COLUMBIA — About 15 people gathered at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Speakers Circle at MU in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
The demonstration, which was advertised on Facebook, was planned to last until 8:30 p.m. Students and former students held signs, played with hula hoops, handed out fliers and drummed on a bongo to draw attention to their cause.
Occupy Mizzou was one of 90 confirmed student protests that occurred nationwide as part of Occupy Colleges, a branch of the recent movement against the unequal distribution of wealth in the United States.
"I feel responsible to inform other people of things that they might not see on their cable news," Brendan Kadey, an MU senior, said.
"There's a lot of misinformation out there," he said. "And honestly, opening minds to new ideas is one of the only things I foresee helping Americans and the human race in general. And if standing out here with some posters is a start, it's better than not saying anything at all."
Protesters agreed their main reason to gather was their belief that corporations control the U.S. government. Some expanded the idea, saying a hierarchical system is the problem. They said it was not right for a corporation to have more influence on voting outcomes because it has more money.
"To summarize," Kadey said, "get your money out of our government."
David McRae held a sign with statistics saying the top 20 percent of the population control 80 percent of the wealth and the bottom 40 percent of the population have no way to speak up for themselves.
"People today think everyone has equal opportunity to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and make something of themselves, but if you don't have bootstraps to begin with, how are you going to pull yourself up?" McRae said.
Christine Snyder, an MU senior, said some have dismissed the movement as being made up of "homeless, jobless hippies who want the government to pay for their lives. I am not a homeless, jobless hippie."
"Look at the pictures from New York," she said. She said grandparents and even mothers with children were protesting so that their children would have a better future.
Jacob Moor, a former MU student, said it was wrong to generalize the protesters. "It's all lies and slander. It's all to try and keep the people from realizing what's really going on."
Moor, who dropped out of college for financial reasons after two and a half years and now works at Bread Basket Cafe, said he hopes that "real economic change" comes out of the protests.
Although united for a common cause, the group members had different ideas for solutions.
Kadey said because the movement is diverse; some people will believe in communism, some in socialism and some in living more simply and fishing and growing food off the land.
Kadey said he believes people should work and should not have things handed to them.
Snyder suggested taxing corporations as heavily as individuals.
Zack West, an MU sophomore, created an 18-page pamphlet called "Boycott Wall Street Permanently," a guide to creating a better economy.
West said he believes that everyone should be employed and should earn lower wages to make sure there's enough to go around and people should value resources more than they do money. He said his idea is similar to a community garden, where there is enough food for everyone.
Although the demonstrators were passionate about their cause, some passers-by said they didn't see an opportunity for the protesters to make waves because the turnout was small and held at the wrong time.
"I think it's a little silly that they're doing it at a college campus in mid-Missouri," John Lynch, an MU sophomore, said. "It's a lot different (in New York) than it is here."
Some students didn't agree with the message the protesters were trying to convey.
"Capitalism is all right," MU freshman Tim Pufundt said. "We still live in a great country."
But that didn't seem to faze the protesters.
"Deep down, we know something's wrong — people just don't know what," Kadey said. "We all know the government is corrupt. How come no one is doing anything about it?"