Richmond’s Occupy Movement Shows LGBT Solidarity
For the last week, supporters in Richmond’s spinoff of Occupy Wall Street have hunkered down at Kanawha Plaza to Occupy Richmond.
More than 20 tents have been pitched along with furniture for makeshift homes – including one tent labeled “medicine” and another labeled “food.”
Over 1,000 cities nationwide that are conducting Occupy protests. These demonstrations were created by citizens that want to be heard on issues ranging from corporate greed, joblessness and social or economic inequality.
“In my opinion, the Occupy movement is about oppression on all [levels],” Dusty Timberlake, a protester who identifies as a member of the LGBT community, said. “It should be the goal of everyone involved to realize how that oppression affects a lot of different minority groups is important as a whole. So I would hope the people here respect the queer movement and are in solidarity with it….”
In the center of Kanawha Plaza, there is a bulletin board hosting various flyers of updates, rules, regulations and personal letters written by protesters. There is also a list of things to do if police liaisons should approach any protesters during Occupy Richmond.
Attached to the spiral staircase in the plaza, a large painted rainbow banner hangs with the word “Solidarity” – the integration, to a degree, shown by society or a group of people.
“This is an all-inclusive meeting or movement which includes people of all sexual orientations, religions, race, political ideals and genders,” Goad Gatsby, Occupy Richmond protester, said. “One percent can be in support of the 99 percent. Like I said, it’s an all-inclusive meet up. With that in mind, we’re completely in support of the gay community and any other communities that want to come out.
Solidarity is a theme of this movement. Signs and banners decorated with the term, along with other phrases, are scattered throughout the plaza. These signs, banners and posters are just a few ways that protesters communicate to the community.
Twice a day every day, protesters hold meetings called General Assembly in the base of the Kanawha Plaza water fountain. These meetings allow protestors to come together, exchange ideas and voice their opinions as individuals.
“We exhibit this unity through things like communal dining, things like the GA twice a day every day, through the collective thought process that we embody in the General Assembly,” Kadrich said. ”So for instance, we operate in solidarity to one another by acknowledging that each individual idea that we might throw up for any individual proposal — those ideas are not in opposition of each other.”
Occupy Wall Street is still raging in New York and it seems that protesters supporting Occupy Richmond will be staying for the time being. The people of the community and Occupy Richmond just want to be heard just like the rest of the country.
“I think solidarity is everything that Occupy Richmond is,” Josh Kadrich, who also identifies as LGBT, said. “I mean, when you think of the idea of solidarity, there’s a multi-dimensional concept and it plays into a couple of different tiers. You’ve got solidarity amongst one another here in Occupy Richmond, the ideas that we are unified in belief and principle.”
Gillan Ludlow is a Fredericksburg native and attending Virginia Commonwealth University as a print journalism undergraduate.
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