DeKalb residents as well as NIU students and professors gathered at Memorial Park Friday to protest the war in the Middle East and to support the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Occupy Wall Street is a mass demonstration that began on Sept. 17 and is based in Zuccotti Park in New York City. Demonstrators are still protesting against economic inequality and corporate greed. The protests have spread to other cities like Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Chicago.
Dan Kenney, coordinator the event and of the DeKalb Interfaith Network, said the rally was organized to bring attention to the issue of jobs and unemployment.
“We’re here to stand in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, which is happening in 150 cities world-wide,” Kenney said. “We’re standing with the 99 percent of Americans who have not seen an increase in their own personal wealth in two decades.”
Supporters of Occupy Wall Street claim that the power of the “1 percent” – described as the wealthiest percentage of the population – is the source of the current economic crisis.
Jenny Tomkins, a member of the DeKalb Interfaith Network who spoke during the rally, said the rally was a coming together of people who believe the United States should end the war in Afghanistan.
“We see a connection between two wars launched by President Bush and tax cuts which were the cause of the economic crisis,” Tomkins said.
DeKalb resident Ted McCarron, NIU alumnus and member of the DeKalb County Tea Party, said he disagrees with the DeKalb Interfaith Network’s message.
“We’re fighting for free enterprise,” McCarron said. “We need freedom and free enterprise; otherwise the jobs get scared away.”
According to merriam-webster.com, free enterprise is defined as the freedom of businesses to operate for profit without interference by government beyond regulation necessary to protect public interest and keep the national economy in balance.
McCarron said his group, although not directly affiliated with the DeKalb County Tea Party, usually holds a Support the Troops rally every Friday directly across from Memorial Park, 101 E. Lincoln Highway, where the DeKalb Interfaith Network holds a weekly vigil for peace.