WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Protesters have been occupying the space in front of Wilmington City Hall for a couple of days now. Unlike other occupy movements around the country that have gotten violent and even deadly, members of Occupy Wilmington say they are a friendly bunch who just want their voices heard.
Protesters say despite the construction crews, cold weather and protests against their protesting, they are here to stay until they see some change.
“People and even the construction workers have been really nice,” Occupy Wilmington member Ethan Johnson. “The movie set was really nice, but it’s not that comfortable sleeping on the sidewalks, but they won’t let us sleep on the lawn, so we’ll deal with it.”
Johnson is occupying Wilmington. He said a few rude gestures have been thrown at the third street camp, but they mostly get waves, honks and curious passersby like Janice Neil.
Neil said she’s not officially part of the movement, but it caught her attention on the sidewalk, and she agrees with the message. But the dedication… not so much.
“Now, I didn’t know they were sleeping here,” Neil said. “Well, I guess if that’s what they have to do, then they just have to do it. I wouldn’t sleep here. I would come and protest, but I wouldn’t do the sleeping part.”
When asked about the violence at other occupations, Johnson said those incidents are just hiccups that will be worked out.
“You can’t control everybody,” he said. “You can try and have guidelines like we do. We don’t allow alcohol; we don’t allow drugs. But you can’t really tell somebody, ‘No. You can’t come in here.'”
While a lot of people just ignore the encampment, Neil said it’s time people pay attention.
“We are poor people, and we are really struggling. Here you got all these people making all this money, and we need some help,” she said.
And to the common comment of “Go get a job,” Johnson says, “I got a job. This is what I choose to do on my days off.”
He works on a vineyard in Bladen County. Now he hopes the fruits of this labor will pay off.
Johnson also believes the Occupy movement has had an impact on the presidential race by turning debate discussions about debt into more about job creation.