The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday June 8th

Occupy Chapel Hill/Carrboro to stage protest

	<p>Occupy <span class="caps">UNC</span></p>
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Occupy UNC

An “occupation” will take place Saturday morning at the Peace and Justice Plaza — but no one, from organizers to local police, knows exactly what it will entail.

The Occupy Chapel Hill/Carrboro protest, which is part of a national movement to bring attention to social and political issues, will begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning at 179 E. Franklin St. in front of the post office.

Chad Johnston, a volunteer with the media division of the group, said he cannot speak for the group, but he will protest because he is concerned with how the United States functions as a democracy.

He said a voice should be returned to the 99 percent of Americans who do not have organized political and economic power.

Participants are coming to the protest with a variety of agendas, but each voice and every issue will be treated as equally important, Johnston said.

Because of this, the only decision the group has made is a meeting place and time. Each subsequent decision will be made by a general consensus of those present, Johnston said.

The participants are still unsure how long the event will last.

Student groups are also getting in on the action.

Bryan Gaston, co-chairman of the UNC Student Environmental Action Coalition, said he is attending the event because he wants to bring attention to issues of campaign finance and corporate lobbying that he believes hinder the passage of environmentally friendly legislation.

People need more say in politics than corporations, he said.

The student group has informed people about Saturday’s protest through social networking, on-campus meetings and word of mouth.

As event organizers and participants gear up for the rally, local businesses remain largely unaware of the movement despite their proximity to the location of the protest.

Kristian Bawcom, owner of the Grille at Four Corners — located right next to the plaza — said he does not think the upcoming protest will greatly affect his business.

He said regardless of what happens, home football games always bring him customers.

Bawcom said he doesn’t know how his position as a small business owner plays into the debate.

Sgt. Joshua Mecimore, a spokesman for the Chapel Hill Police Department, said the police are not concerned about the effect the protest will have on the downtown community.

“As long as it stays peaceful, there is really nothing for us to do except observe,” he said.

The plaza can accommodate a crowd and was designed for this purpose, Mecimore said.

“It’s not unusual for groups to gather there,” he said.

Gaston said he does not anticipate a negative reaction from the town.

“One thing I value about Chapel Hill is that, in general, people are able to make their voices heard,” he said.

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