Occupy Movement Continues In Toms River
While the Occupy Wall Street protests in major cities across the world are garnering media attention, the OWS movement is also spreading into Ocean County in the form of Occupy Toms River.
It doesn’t have the numbers or the fervor that it’s counterparts in the metropolis have, however to the cause’s supporters who come out ever Sunday to Huddy Park in downtown Toms River, it’s size doesn’t take away from it’s importance.
One of Occupy Toms River’s members is Kevin Hinninger, a supporter of the Occupy Movement who felt the messages being sent in major cities is one that needs to be conveyed in local towns.
“People are going up to the Occupy Movement in Philadelphia and New York, but I feel you have to act locally and you have to let people know how you feel.” Says Hinninger.
What is the message that the OTS movement wants to send? Well, like it’s counterparts in major cities throughout the world, there’s no one issue.
“I’m unhappy with the mortgage situation, with the way people can’t afford houses, I’m unhappy with the price of schools, I’m unhappy with healthcare.”
For Hinninger, the problem lies in the system itself. “The thing I am concerned with are money and politics. Money has a say in politics and that takes the freedom out of it. It takes it [politics] away from the people.”
Though the Occupy Movement is often attributed with youth, Hinninger like the other people at OTS, is by no means a youth. He also notes, he’s not the leader and that the movement really has no leader, just participants.
“There’s no real organization yet, we’re just here because we believe things should be different.”
Additionally, unlike protesters who “occupy” round the clock in major cities, OTS is done for several hours every Sunday, depending on job schedules. That’s another thing Hinninger is quick to point out, while detractors portray participants in the Occupy Movements as jobless, at least in Occupy Toms River everyone is employed.
“All of the people who come here have jobs. We don’t have great jobs, we’re not part of the country club scene in Toms River who have been involved in politics and have been involved in Toms River for the past thirty years, but we’re all well informed and we know what’s going on locally.”
That’s why he and fellow “occupiers” stand in the park by with signs, because he feels Toms River needs it more than any city maybe.
“People are hurting down here.” Hinninger says. “Most of the people who aren’t working for the schools or aren’t working up in New York, they’re builders. The only people who are building now are the big companies. The small time builder, the small time contractor, roofer, plumber, sider; they’re not getting any work anymore. They’ve fallen by the wayside.”
Looking at the passing SUV’s and pick ups emblazed with decal’s for local companies, he notes that much of why OTS needs to be out there is for the small businesses of Toms River.
“I see these trucks driving by, and I know these people aren’t working. They don’t have the money they used to.”
With recent attention pointed to the violence brought upon Occupy Protestors throughout the country, he notes that luckily they’re hasn’t been anything like that at OTS. He says their relationship with the police has been really positive.
“The few times they’ve been here, they’ve been nothing but polite and kind.” Noting that in regards to the incidents where there has been violence from police, it’s not that they are bad people. “I think they’re not used to what’s going on,” citing “it’s possibly training more than anything.’
However, OTS does have significantly lesser amounts of people than it’s counterparts. Hinninger notes that “as far as people coming out, the response hasn’t been great, but as far as people driving by and honking their horns, there’s a lot of support.”
As for detractors? There hasn’t been any blowback. In fact in his time out, Hinninger says its “usually young kids yelling curses at three ladies over fifty and veterans.”
With the Occupy movement seemingly not running out of steam worldwide, Hinninger and the other people out didn’t have any plans of ending OTS. They hope their chapter gets’s bigger and the movement spreads to surrounding towns. There are no plans of abandoning it.
“Even though Toms River is small, all of the issues I feel are just as vital and important here.”