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Occupy St. Pete plans event for Saturday

ST. PETERSBURG — Four weeks after protests began in New York's Financial District, a similar gathering is being planned for Saturday in South Straub Park.

More than 200 groups have sprouted across the country since "Occupy Wall Street" protests began, including "Occupy Tampa" – which kicked off last week – and "Occupy Tallahassee."

As of Tuesday afternoon, there were 86 confirmed participants signed up for the "Occupy Saint Petersburg Waterfront Gathering and General Assembly" event, according to the "Occupy St. Pete'' Facebook page. But that number may grow as word spreads.

It's unclear who's organizing the event, but the Facebook page, which has 289 fans, states it is "for people in Pinellas County who want to work together, in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street."

Occupy St. Pete is one of many satellite protests being held across the country. The movement started with a small group but has gained momentum across a broad demographic.

While social media have been a means of communication about the event, some local supporters are depending on word of mouth.

"I hope to gain critical mass," said St. Petersburg resident Ray Wunderlich III, who plans on attending.

"There's too much of a disproportionate voice that larger, irresponsible corporations bear upon our government," he said. "Most of the people's voices are not being heard."

City officials are aware of the event, which runs from 3:30 to 7 p.m., but have made no special plans.

"There was a similar event in Tampa and there were no problems, so we're not planning anything special," said police spokesman Bill Proffitt.

Mayor Bill Foster isn't a fan of the protest, but praised the location.

"I personally don't agree with their cause but they have the right to assemble," he said. "The beauty of combining the First Amendment with one of the most beautiful waterfronts in the country is that it will be in a great setting."

Others would like to take the message a bit further. Lorraine Margeson, a longtime local activist, suggests that there should be an "Occupy Rick Scott" event.

"I understand every attempt is being made to not make this one political fight, but I think (Gov.) Rick Scott is universally not getting a fan club here in the state," she said.

But Margeson's excitement for the event goes beyond state politics.

"The corporations and legislators better wake up and pay attention, because this is a watershed moment in this country."

Occupy St. Pete plans event for Saturday 10/11/11 [Last modified: Thursday, October 13, 2011 11:27am]
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