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Friends Talk Occupy in Des Moines

Kathleen McQuillen and Claire Cumbie-Drake during Occupy Talk 1-29-12
At left, Kathleen McQuillen, AFSC Iowa Program Coordinator, discusses the Occupy movement with Des Moines Valley Friends. Claire Cumbie-Drake, clerk of the meeting (right), introduced the event. Photo: Jon Krieg / AFSC

What would William Penn think of today's Occupy movement? As Kathleen McQuillen, AFSC Iowa Program Coordinator, noted in a recent second-hour discussion with the Des Moines Valley Friends Meeting, Penn observed that the love of money is the root of all evil, which seems like a reasonable link with today's Occupiers. McQuillen added that the widening wealth gap in our country has created an extreme democracy gap; both are driving today's calls for change.

Claire Cumbie-Drake, clerk of the meeting, introduced McQuillen and Steven Toothman, an active participant with Occupy Des Moines. (This audio includes the first eight minues of discussion.) Toothman said that Occupy Des Moines is transitioning into "Occupy 2.0," moving from a large model of organizing into a "spokescouncil" model in which working groups address various issues, among them home foreclosures.

Occupy is also working on raising awareness about and countering the negative effects of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a national organization which promotes boiler-plate anti-worker, anti-consumer, and anti-environmental legislation in state legislatures around the nation.

According to Toothman, Occupy Des Moines is also on literally on the move. On January 29, 2012, participants pulled up stakes at city-owned Stewart Park and marched back to People's Park at the foot of the State Capitol. That evening, 11 people were arrested for trespass by state troopers in an action which mimicked events surrounding the birth of Occupy Des Moines on October 9, 2011. Occupy Des Moines is now renting office space at 500 E. Locust.

For a slideshow of photos from the Occupy talk with Friends, please click here.

For a slideshow of photos from Occupy Des Moines' move from Stewart Park to the State Capitol, please click here.