Carbondale area home to several groups of protesters

By Gus Bode

While the numerous protests in Carbondale may be reflective of the national mood, some students question what they accomplish and others believe in the power of protest.

“This year has been a year of protests for our nation,” said Derek Martin, a professor of sociology.

In Carbondale, protests include those of the Peace Coalition of Southern Illinois, Occupy Carbondale and the local carpentry unions. The Peace Coalition has protested weekly since 2001 in support of nonviolent conflict resolution; the Occupy Carbondale movement began protesting Oct. 15; and local carpenter unions have been protesting Long John Silver’s lack of local union support since Oct. 26.

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Charles Schaefer, a member of the Carpenter’s Local 638 union, stands behind a sign Wednesday in protest of Long John Silver’s restaurant, which, unlike many Carbondale businesses, did not use local union labor for construction. The protest is one of several currently taking place in Carbondale. Please see page 4 for the full story. Genna ord | Daily Egyptian

Martin said people protest because they notice something wrong and can no longer sit by and allow it to continue. He said many people start protesting for a cause, and continue to do so because they feel empowered and like they belong to a community.

Jonathon Vick, a senior studying from Herrin studying finance, said he has mixed opinions about protests.

“Yes, they are out there and they have gotten our attention, but what happens next? How long are they going to be out there?” he said.“I think that it can be effective; people are going to notice a large group of protesters on the street, but it also has a negative stigma attached to it, so often times it is not taken seriously.”

Martin said history proves the worth of protests.

“Protests can certainly cause change — just look at the civil rights or women’s rights movements,” Martin said.

Kelsey Franklin, a senior from Herrin studying early childhood education, said she considers the protests in Carbondale successful.

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“Carbondale is really the heart of southern Illinois, so whatever is going on here is going to have a trickle down effect into the smaller, surrounding communities,” she said.

Martin said location is key to protests, and protests will be strongest if held somewhere that will attract media attention and supporters. He said one strategy is to disrupt a public place where a protest can’t be ignored.

Local carpentry unions are in protest outside of the newly built Long John Silver’s on Route 13, protesting the company’s decision to hire an out-of-state construction company to build the restaurant rather than hiring local laborers.

Robert Vosburgh, business representative and organizer of Carpenters’ District Council of Greater Saint Louis and Vicinity, said being on Route 13 gets the local carpentry unions a lot of attention. They’ve placed a banner in front of the highway that reads, “Shame on Long John Silver’s”.

“We consider ourselves so successful because of the recognition we get from our banner outside of Long John Silver’s,” he said. “ We are raising awareness in the community and creating a support system for local business. In my eyes, that alone can be considered an effective result of our protesting.”

Vosburgh said he will remain in protest until Long John Silver’s agrees to have future or repair work done by locals.

Adam Turl, Occupy Carbondale representative and a senior from Carbondale studying art, said the SIUC campus brings diversity to Carbondale, which makes it a great place for protests.

Turl said the Occupy Carbondale movement began in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement, but now means something different and personal to each member.

The Occupy Wall Street movement began in September, and according to the website, represents the 99% of men and women who aim to end the greed and corruption of the wealthiest 1% of America.

Turl said the Occupy Carbondale movement, to him, is about exposing inequality in America.

“We have all sorts of people, from students to community members, and they are all here for their own reasons such as increased rates of tuition or higher poverty levels,” he said.

Turl said he hopes Occupy Carbondale will always exist, or until the problems in the world are solved.

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