Occupy gathering keys on MLK’s calls for economic equality

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Vancouver’s chapter of the Occupy Wall Street movement against income inequality and corporate greed gathered in Esther Short Park on Monday for a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event sponsored by a dozen local businesses.

Participants gathered in the downtown Vancouver park in the early evening to listen to speeches from King regarding economic justice.

“He could be speaking to us today,” Occupy Vancouver member Stephanie Rotondo said to the group of about 10 protesters who showed up despite the chilly temperatures. “All labor has dignity.”

Through two speakers set up in the center of the park, the group listened to clips from three of King’s speeches.

“There are literally two Americas,” King’s voice poured from the speakers. “One America is flowing with the milk of prosperity and the honey of equality. … In (the) other America, millions of people find themselves forced to live in inadequate, substandard and often dilapidated housing conditions.”

Occupy Vancouver then marched to Kiggins Theatre to watch “I Am,” a documentary made by “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” and “A Nutty Professor” director Tom Shadyac. In the documentary, Shadyac asks: “What’s wrong with our world, and what can we do about it?” Following the documentary, Occupy Vancouver led a discussion about what the Vancouver community could do to make the world a better place.

“I Am” premiered in May at the Mountain Film Festival in Colorado, where it won the Audience Choice Award and the Student Choice Award.

The film ties in with Occupy’s message of change, Rotondo said. “We see lots of things wrong with our world, and we want to fix it,” she said.

Twelve Vancouver businesses each offered $75 sponsorships for Monday’s Occupy event. The sponsorships covered the operation costs for showing the documentary at Kiggins Theatre, Rotondo said.

“We are so grateful for all of their support,” she said. “We weren’t really sure how many businesses were on our side,” she said, but added that “one of our goals is to get people to shop locally.”

Stevie Mathieu: 360-735-4523 or stevie.mathieu@columbian.com or www.facebook.com/reportermathieu or www.twitter.com/col_politics