State Rep. Moeller will join Occupy Vancouver on Saturday

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

Updated: October 13, 2011, 7:20 PM

 

Live coverage

The Columbian will cover the protest live Saturday with a blog and photos posted on our website throughout the day.

At least one elected official will participate in Vancouver’s spinoff of the Occupy Wall Street nonviolent march and protest on Saturday.

State Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver, announced his plan to join the protest on The Columbian’s website forum for Facebook members.

“See you there,” Moeller wrote to other forum commentators.

Later, he told The Columbian he decided to attend on his own accord and without invitation from organizers.

Organizer Dan Walker said Thursday that he’d had no idea that Moeller was planning to be at the event but said Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt had been invited to participate. Leavitt has given no indication whether he will accept the invitation.

Leavitt, who has said he is considering challenging 3rd Congressional District Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, in 2012, had not returned calls to his office and cellphone as of late Thursday afternoon.

“This is happening in my own town and district so I might as well go,” Moeller said Thursday.

The protest begins at noon at downtown’s Esther Short Park, 301 W. Eighth St.

Moeller said he supports the movement’s cause and its expression of Americans’ First Amendment rights.

Although Occupy Vancouver professes only to protest corporate greed, Moeller has some specific ideas about how to address that problem: tax code equalization and closing tax loopholes for corporations and high-income earners.

“The whole group hasn’t paid their fair share. They’ve reaped the advantages of free education, transportation and other benefits, but they are not paying back,” Moeller said. “I think more than ever we need them to be part of the solution.”

“Making a profit is not a bad thing; it’s a good thing,” Moeller said. “But when it comes down to paying their fair share, I think people should be doing that. When you can be arrested for stealing a loaf of bread but not for stealing a billion dollars, there’s something wrong with that.”

No camp planned

The demonstration’s organizers have said they don’t plan to set up a camp in Vancouver as has happened in other cities, including New York City and Portland.

They are organizing a carpool for those who would like to camp with protesters in Portland. Demonstrations in Portland have continued since last week.

Occupy Wall Street started Sept. 17 in New York City.

Vancouver organizers say it’s important to hold an event in Vancouver, versus just joining Portland’s protest, because Vancouver has separate congressional representatives. Vancouver also has been particularly hard hit by unemployment and foreclosure.

One Facebook commentator who identified himself only as “Reed” said Vancouver residents may not have been exposed to the demonstrations in Portland and may become more aware of the movement as a result of the local protest.

“I don’t feel our representatives in Congress represent the people, or we wouldn’t be having this movement of the 99 percent to spread awareness,” said Vancouver resident Jeremy Smith.

Route set

About 30 people are organizing the event Saturday in solidarity with the International Day of Occupation on Oct. 15.

On Wednesday, they decided on the route of a 1.5-mile march but won’t release details and a map of the route until late Friday.

So far, organizers also anticipate having a public address system at the park’s bandstand Saturday to allow people to speak to the crowd, Walker said.

Walker debuted a website for the movement on Oct. 8. Organizers, participants, supporters and detractors also have been communicating via Facebook and on Twitter.

As of Thursday afternoon, more than 175 Facebook members had indicated on the event’s page that they plan to join the demonstration. More than 350 people “liked” the page.

There are 1,523 cities worldwide that have hosted or plan to host an “Occupy Together” demonstration to protest corporate greed, according to the Occupy Wall Street website. The movement originated in New York City last month.

Paris Achen: 360-735-4551; http://www.twitter.com/Col_Trends; http://www.facebook.com/ColTrends; paris.achen@columbian.com