S-D alum helps bring national protest to local forefront
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Many locals recently united to protest national inequality at the government level and its effect on the Knoxville community. People from all over Knoxville rallied together to voice their opinions and fight for a change in government. These individuals included everyday passive citizens as well as extreme activists.
A reporter from The Phoenix recently had the opportunity to interview protester Jordan Welsh, a South-Doyle High School 2011 graduate. Welsh was a rather famous face at S-D as a senior. He could be seen sporting a Russian hat and fiery red hair. He always let his opinion be known. Now, as a freshman at the University of Tennessee, he is voicing his opinions more loudly than ever before.
Phoenix: What is Occupy Knoxville, in your own words?
Welsh: Occupy Knoxville is a movement to show solidarity with the protestors in New York with national issues such as Corporate Personhood, and the influence of corporate funding in elections, as well as state of Tennessee issues, such as buying local and removing taxes on food and other necessary items.
Phoenix: When/ where was Occupy Knoxville?
Welsh: Krutch Park and Market Square, with marches going all the way to the Old City
Phoenix: What was your role in the protest?
Welsh: I was marching, chanting and waving signs just like everyone else. There were no special and separate "leaders;" we were all in it together. I was one of the five or so occupiers who stayed the first night and many other nights without officially being allowed to sleep or set up structures such as tarps or tents.
Phoenix: How did you get involved?
Welsh: I had heard about an Occupy Knoxville on the popular independent news source Democracy Now, so I looked up their (Occupy Knoxville's) Facebook page and went to their first rally. I have been involved in the movement as much as my college schedule allows me to.
Phoenix: What was the event like?
Welsh: It was a large scale political awakening and the first real protest I had ever attended. There was a diverse crowd of all political persuasions, and I met many people with unique perspectives and even a few with views similar to my own. But this wasn't a movement of partisan bickering; we were all united for the same cause: an end to corporate hegemony in politics.
Phoenix: Why was it important to you?
Welsh: I had been keeping up with politics before, but as a distant affair, instead of direct action. Occupy Knoxville helped me to see what direct action by concerned citizens looked like, as opposed to going to a ballot booth every so often to choose a "representative" from the ruling class. It came as a pleasant surprise to see people gaining political consciousness and realizing that they too have a voice.
Phoenix: Do you think your opinion will have an impact on society?
Welsh: My opinion alone will not change society . . . This is not a movement about electing Candidate A or B (but perhaps part of it is thinking about electing Candidate C) but this is a movement about ideas, and about expression which is much more important. We rely too much on our views to come from the top down through opposing political parties, when they should be coming from the bottom up.
Phoenix: Were you successful?
Welsh: We received a lot of popular support from people driving by waving and honking. This is not to say we didn't receive our fair share of hate, but we were certainly not ignored. We taught quite a few people just what Occupy was about and why we’re here. I suppose that doesn't answer the question "Did we win?" so, I will quote Subcomandante Marcos of the Zapatista movement, "We are an army of dreamers, and therefore invincible. How can we fail to win with all this imagination overturning everything?"
Phoenix: Any additional comments or thoughts?
Welsh: As a fellow resident of the County, I understand how it can feel being isolated from the politics that will eventually mold our fates. Being politically active is more than simply going to the voting booth, it is both being aware and spreading awareness about issues that will affect Knox County, Tennessee or even the United States as a whole. When watching the news, keep in mind the interests that are behind it through the corporate sponsors, and try to seek out unbiased and independent sources for news. And lastly, get involved in the community and community based activism. Recently there was a march held by Jobs With Justice from Vine Middle School to the City-County building to protest Knox County Schools' suggestion to outsource the jobs of over 300 Knox County custodians. The voices of Knox County citizens kept 300 janitors from being paid even lower wages, or simply being left without a job. Always be conscious of what is happening in (the) community, in (the) state, in (the) country, and in the world. And be sure to speak out, because your voices are the future of Knox County, and of America. Let them be heard!