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Otherwise Occupied

Marc Gregory thinks competition-based economic policy needs to end.

"How well has it worked? How well has it worked? Why are people around the world, if it's worked so well, protesting?" Gregory said at the Occupy Medford protest Saturday. "Environmentally and culturally, the age of competition is over. We have to move beyond competition into an era of cooperation."

Gregory was one of about 150 people who took to Alba Park Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. for the protest, which was similar to dozens of other protests around the country against what attendees are calling economic injustice, greed-steeped corporations and failing social policy in the U.S.

Many individuals in the movement are calling themselves "the 99 percent," as opposed to the 1 percent of people who control much of the nation's wealth.

Signs at Saturday's event covered a variety of topics, such as "Human needs, not corporate greed," "Families shoulder to shoulder for just immigration reform" and "Hey corporation, since you're a person, pay up like me."

"I read in the papers, people saying, 'Oh these people are just lazy' or 'They won't take a low-paying job," said Occupy Medford attendee Berl Gilworth. "What people don't realize is you can't get any job. There are millions of people in this country who will never work again, who will never have a full-time job again because our economy has contracted; the jobs are not there."

"Every problem we have is in some way or another linked to the fact that there is no economic justice in the world," Gregory said. "Not to mention the fact that billions are living in squalor and poverty that is unimaginable. The people here have had enough because they see their own lives being ground into the dust by unjust and ludicrous economic policy that serves the very few at the expense of the many."

Gregory thinks the Occupy movement can change that.

"I hope that everybody will take what's going on today and take it with them and do whatever they can, each in his own way, to create a more just and more fair world," he said.

Some attendees Saturday took stances that might be familiar at Tea Party rallies, such as those with signs supporting 2012 presidential candidate Ron Paul. Attendee Bill Quayle held up a sign showing rising gas prices with President Barack Obama's face right next to the numbers.

"(He's) the worst president ever," Quayle said. "He's a pathological liar."

Quayle said freedom of speech brought him to the rally, even if his views aren't in line with the Occupy movement's. He said there are plenty of good-natured corporations, such as Apple, and that innovation should be rewarded, not stifled.

Occupy Medford attendee Angela Mageras said she thinks the movement is an important step, but that real change will take time.

"It's going to take some time for us to get together and create an ideal society where everybody is equal," she said. "This is certainly something. This, I think, serves as a platform for other subjects to come out."

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at rpfeil@mailtribune.com.

Hugh Sutherland of Medford wears a Guy Fawkes mask to the Occupy Medford Rally at Alba Park Saturday. Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch - Jamie Lusch