Occupy movement finds home in Bakersfield


Bonnie Wilson, left, and Gabriela Castellanos hold signs on Oct. 22.

Cassandra McGowan, Reporter

With signs reading: “Honk if you pay taxes,” “No Fortune, No Voice, No Fair” and “We are the 99%,” the Occupy movement has made its way to the streets of Bakersfield.

Every day, people who want to make their voices heard are gathering together on the corner of Chester Avenue and Truxtun Avenue to protest against America’s current financial and economic state.

The local protesters are calling for a balance between big business and government and a happy medium.

“I’m tired of the corporations weighing down on the government. I’m tired of my classes getting cut over and over,” said Dustin Wolaver, a 21-year-old employed college student.

“It’s insane,” he said, speaking of the financial state of the college system.

Wolaver is hoping for a New Deal 2.0 type of reform and thinks it would be a good idea to reframe American’s infrastructure. He said the total deregulation of business would be bad and could possibly “create a dictatorship.”

Like many other people involved in the Occupy movement, Wolaver is hoping the United States can ultimately achieve equal opportunities for all its citizens.

While many of the protesters are either employed, or are in school in hopes to be gainfully employed, they worry about the future.

Jarrett Newhouse wishes to be considered a middle-class male, but said working a 40-hour work week just isn’t enough anymore to cover rent and bills, and people are having to find a roommate just to get by.

Newhouse has been protesting for 11 days and when asked what his ultimate goal was, he said, “Basically, equal job opportunities.”

As the protesters stood on the busy corner downtown at the end of the workday, many people were honking and waving.  A Hall ambulance honked as it turned the corner. “It’s just ironic that someone who works for Harvey Hall honks,” said Newhouse.

“One out of 10 flip us off,” said Bonnie Wilson, a disabled Navy veteran and Bakersfield College student.

She said she’s tired of just sitting around complaining, so she decided to get up and do something about it.

In between classes, she goes to the protesters corner to drop off the signs, stays for as long as she can, comes back to class and then back to pick up the signs.  She’s also in the work-study program for BC’s athletics department and still makes the time to stand up for what she believes in.  “I believed people don’t really care, now I see they are, I’ll be here every day until we see some change.”

Wilson finds it sad there are so many issues with the system America has at this point in time.

“Flush the system, get rid of the whole thing and start over if we have to,” she said. “Things aren’t changing for the good, in my opinion.”

She asks that if you have questions that you go and talk to them or do your own research on it.

The protesters are urging the people of Bakersfield to stand up and make their voice heard. Even if you don’t think you will make a difference, they think it’s worth a try.

“Most people know in their heart that this is right,” said Wilson.

The protesters are at the corner Monday through Friday 4-8 p.m., Saturdays 3-10 p.m., and Sundays 5-8 p.m.

“We love any and all support we can get,” said Newhouse.