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Columbia Missourian

FROM READERS: Columbia to host statewide Occupy conference

By JAMES GINNS/MISSOURIAN READER
June 13, 2012 | 7:00 a.m. CDT

James Ginns is a member of Occupy Como and an organizer of Occupy Missouri.

Occupy Missouri, a hybrid encampment and conference, is scheduled to occur Friday, June 29 to Sunday, July 1, on the Boone County Courthouse grounds, after it closes for the weekend at 5 p.m. Friday. (Events will begin at noon at City Hall).

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The encampment is intended to be a space for all Missourians to participate, and coordination with other occupation movements in Missouri, including St. Louis, Kansas City and Springfield, is already underway.

The event will combine Occupy's open meeting structure and encampment on public grounds with more traditional teach-ins and demonstrations. Some events are planned, beginning with Friday night speakers at 8, and a Saturday march beginning at 10 a.m., though much of the course of the conference will be in the hands of the attendees themselves.

The event is intended to maintain the Occupy movement's tradition of an open movement that puts planning in the hands of the spontaneous participation of the occupiers themselves, while offering some schedule and organization in advance.

The event has recently received a permit, allowing occupiers something that had been denied demonstrators last fall: shelter. Moreover, planning and Columbia's position as a centrally located Missouri city should allow for greater participation in a movement that has often proved unpredictable, scattered and hard to find.

The speakers will give voice to some of the more notable concerns of the Occupy movement: protest over the greed and speculation of Wall Street and large corporations. It will also provide a forum for different concerns from Occupiers. The issues raised locally by the statewide EEZ program are on the minds of Columbia occupiers, including myself. Occupy Como hopes to hear perspectives from other parts of the state about issues of eminent domain. In turn, we hope our out of county participants will bring their own local perspectives.

I have to make the admission that I am not up to date on state politics. I hope this will change as a result of the conference both for myself and the other attendees. I also hope Occupy Missouri will offer people what I feel Occupy has always offered: a chance to protest a system headed in the wrong direction and to solve them as a democracy, rather than a bureaucracy that merely orders people regarding what to do.

If you'd like more information about this event, email OccupyMo@riseup.net or visit the Occupy Missouri Facebook page

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.