Parking was scarce, cameras flashed and passersby were immediately involved in deep discussion. Even a fire truck responding to a call from Grotto Pizza on Rehoboth Avenue couldn’t overshadow more than 200 people who showed up, Nov. 5, to occupy Rehoboth Beach.
The energetic crowd chanted loudly, “We are the 99” and “Jobs not cuts,” as families strolled the busy street leading to the Boardwalk and drivers occasionally honked their car horns in support. Protesters, who were mostly middle age and older, banged drums, held signs and sang “We Shall Overcome."
“I’m happy about the turnout,” said Joanne Cabry, who organized the event. Cabry, who serves as chairwoman of Progressive Democrats of Sussex County, said she had spoken to both liberals and 9-12 Patriots who marched in the event. “We both have the same goals,” she said.
The overlying feeling of dissatisfaction was the same, but protesters offered a number of reasons for their participation in the movement.
Manuel Davis of Milton wore plastic vampire teeth and a sign that read, “Babylon System, Vampire sucking, Blood of sufferers.” Davis said hearing about protests around the world struck a chord and made him decide to participate in the occupy movement. “It reminded me democracy is not a spectator sport,” he said.
Mrina Nikrad, a student at University of Delaware, said the ailing job market made her want to participate in the protest. “There are no jobs for educated people,” she said.
Iris Newsom, of Lewes, sat in front of the Bandstand holding a sign that said, “Banks are not casinos.” Newsom said she wants to help get the message out that banks need to be properly regulated. “They shouldn’t be allowed to play with our money,” she said.
Jo Anne Paulson, also a resident of Lewes, said she hopes politicians will become braver about tackling issues like bank regulation and campaign finance reform. “I think politicians haven’t heard enough to take a hard stance,” Paulson said. “I think that’s our job – to give them courage.”
Tim and Marcy Loveless drove from Harrington to participate in Occupy Rehoboth. The couple wore Guy Fawkes masks, which have become a staple of occupy movements across the world.
“I’m tired of the imbalance,” said Marcy Loveless. Tim Loveless said even small rallies, like the one in Rehoboth Beach, show there are people everywhere who feel the same way. “People are tired, and they want to see a change,” he said.
Bank Transfer Day
Nov. 5 was declared Bank Transfer Day, created as a Facebook event by Los Angeles resident Kristen Christian. According to the event’s Facebook page, more than 70,000 people agreed to participate.
According to the site, the Bank Transfer Day aims to send a message to corporate-level banks against unethical business practices, and participants have agreed to invest in local credit unions.
Christian created Bank Transfer Day after she heard three corporate banks – Bank of America, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan & Chase – threatened new fees for debit card customers; all three banks have since nixed the idea.
Sussex County Federal Credit Union advertised Bank Transfer Day on its website. Sharee Coleman, vice president of marketing, said she heard about the event in an industry publication.
“We have had a few people mention it specifically,” Coleman said of the event. But, she said, it’s difficult to tell which customers come in because of the event. Laughing, she said, “Around here, we look at every day as Bank Transfer Day.”