About 250 people gathered at Ashland's Plaza today for the opening address of a planned two-day Occupy Ashland protest.
In conjunction with similar protests happening in cities around the nation, and the weeks-long Occupy Wall Street protest in New York's financial district, organizers scheduled speeches, presentations, and a general assembly to run until 9 tonight.
After that, the peaceful occupation is scheduled to pick back up at noon, Friday, in the Plaza.
"The occupation of Wall Street is the first notice being given by the American people that we do not accept this; we will not allow this to be the future for our country, our communities and our families," said Rep. Pete Buckley (D-Ashland), who delivered the opening address at the occupation.
Buckley was applauded by the crowd throughout the roughly 15-minute speech.
"I support the occupation of Wall Street, for the simple fact that I share the anger and frustration of millions of Americans over what has been done to our country, our economy, our communities and our families by our major financial institutions," he said.
Ashland police don't expect protesters to camp out in Lithia Park or the Plaza tonight, Chief Terry Holderness said Wednesday. Holderness said he sat down with organizers earlier this week to go over the city's camping ordinance, and that they agreed not to camp out, but some protesters said they will camp out in the Plaza tonight, and are ready to be cited or arrested.
"We're going to be sleeping tonight, and most likely tomorrow night," said Emery Way, 24, an organizer of the occupation, and member of the student-led activist group Phronesis, of Ashland. "We know what were are doing is still illegal and anybody who chooses to camp is prepared to face being cited or even arrested; that's just a part of civil disobedience."
— Sam Wheeler