Happening Now: Occupy Anchorage

Supporters of Occupy Anchorage were drawn to city square at 4pm through social media. While making posters, they again heard through social media every daily’s next front cover. Steve Jobs had died.

“Oh my god, that’s crazy. He just retired….No one survives pancreatic cancer,” says Robert Burns, one of the five protesters to arrive before the schedule protest at 5pm.

They continued making posters: “Bail out the 99 percent,” “Nobody is too big for jail” “National Center for Children in Poverty says: 15 million children starving”

Protesters joined the Occupy Wallstreet movement in Anchorage.
Protesters joined the Occupy Wallstreet movement in Anchorage. Photo by Matt Caprioli

Brian McMillan, a member Iaste 918, organized the protest.

“Madison Wisconsin pissed me off. It’s not the teachers, the nurses, the firefighters or the police—it’s the rich. Tax the rich and we won’t have to talk about union wages,” McMillan said.

This protest was inspired by the success of the first impromptu meeting last evening at Snow Goose café. Of his 21 years as an activist in Anchorage, McMillan was shocked at the 70 people who showed up. They had only know about the event a few hours prior.

McMillan suggested that the group was comprised of about 40 percent UAA students. Men and women were in equal number. McMillian, 45, said he was not the oldest person there.

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It’s been four days since McMillan created the Facebook page, Occupy Anchorage; already the page has received 332 likes. They quickly realized that a group would allow them to track members more accurately. The group has close to 100 members. Additionally, McMillan created the event page for today. Within 22 hours it received 100 “I’m attending” on Facebook; approximately that number of people showed up to the protest at 5pm.

McMillan also plans a protest for Saturday at City Square.

“Hopefully this will be America’s corporate fall. Literally,” McMillan said.

People are now gathering in town square for a variety of reasons, but they can all agree that somethings in the world are wrong, and that everyone needs to be aware of those issues and act somehow to remedy each issue.

“Everyone has a different take. Mine are unions and corporate greed,” says Brian McMillan, the organizer of today’s protest.

McMillan said some are now protesting because of health care, banks foreclosures on homes, homelessness, or environmental degradation.

“This is the 21st century. We’re hoping for a dialogue, rather than this whole Tea Party bullshit of just shouting people down. I don’t have any demands. I just want to see things better,” McMillan said.

Most protesters were initially skeptical.

Protesters joined forces today at 5 p.m. in downtown Anchorage as part of a new group: Occupy Anchorage.
Protesters joined forces today at 5 p.m. in downtown Anchorage as part of a new group: Occupy Anchorage. Photo by Matt Caprioli

“At first I was very skeptical. I’ve seen a lot of, just like you’ve been hearing, a lot of adolescent hippies with peace signs and pro marijuana signs, and I was like ok here are some radicals. But it started to grow , it started developing like a real cause. People are really tired of this and here is an opportunity, and they’re showing that the 99%–as it’s been called—really have the power. We really have it in our constitutional rights to replace those in power,” Robert Burns, a small business owner, said.

Burns got involved Sunday after reading about the 700 arrests in New York City.

Burns joined the military immediately after high school. After four years of service, he enrolled in UAA’s business school. Finding it “mundane,” he quite after a year and is working on a graphic design degree through an online college. He operates his own business in Eagle River.

Burns was working in Anchorage but the shop, which he’d rather not say, did not pay him enough to commute from Eagle River to Anchorage. So he quit, and started his own business, which he also declined to name.

“It’s not apart of this,” Burns said.

Protests began full swing around 5:05. 100 people were lined 5th and 6th street. There were about four honks per minute, from vehicles ranging from white 2011 Escalades to 1966 Volkswagen Beatles.