MIAMI (CBS4)- Hundreds of participants joined Occupy groups in South Florida, specifically Fort Lauderdale and Miami, as they gathered on Saturday to be a part of the ‘Occupy’ movement that’s continuing to spread to cities across America.
The Occupy Miami event began at 1:30 p.m. at the Bayfront Park Amphitheatre. By 2 p.m. approximately 400 participants were in attendance, with that number expected to grow.
Meanwhile, Occupy Fort Lauderdale participants met up at 11 a.m. at the Federal Court House to BOA Plaza.
Occupy Fort Lauderdale and Occupy Miami is taking a cue from Occupy Wall Street, an ongoing protest against corporate influence on U.S. politics (among other things) headquartered in the heart of the Lower Manhattan Financial District. Other cities, including Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago have already followed suit.
On Friday, four protesters were arrested in Gainesville for trespassing after the city park had closed, the Associated Press reported.
In central Florida, Brook Hines was among more than 400 who arrived Saturday morning for an event in Orlando. More were expected to arrive by early afternoon.
“I felt like this was really helpful and about the most positive grass-roots activity I’ve seen in a long time,” said the 25-year-old marketing and public relations employee. “I think that it’s not the same kind of protest, attitude or movement as we’ve seen in the past.”
Ricky Jackson has been following the movement and re-posting messages on his Facebook page for weeks.
Slideshow: Occupy Miami Demonstrates At Bayfront Park
“I just want people to pay attention and they will see around them the things that are really messed up,” Jackson told CBS4′s David Sutta. “Just ask someone. I’m pretty sure you are one person away from someone who has been kicked out of their house because they don’t have enough money.”
According to Occupy Fort Lauderdale’s facebook page, the group met for their first assembly in front of the Broward Main Public Library at 100 S. Andrews Avenue last Saturday. At the assembly, organizers asked participants to bring their “ideas and passion for change so we can plan to occupy Fort Lauderdale’s financial district.”
“Basically, I think it’s grown out of general discontent, economic discontent, unemployment, general class relation stuff,” said Occupy Fort Lauderdale organizer Evan Rowe.
Rowe continued saying, “There seems to be a toleration of it for a while when there’s just a boiling point where maybe it’s not going to be tolerated.
Occupy Miami participants also met last Saturday at Miami-Dade’s Wolfson campus for their first assembly.
October 2 approximately 200 local activists met in Bayfront Park to vent their anger at corporate greed, cuts to education, the bank bailouts, the Federal Reserve, unemployment and innumerable other issues, CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald reported. Occupy Miami also has their own facebook page as a medium for those interested in participating.
During a news conference earlier this month, President Barack Obama said protesters are expressing “the frustration that the American people feel.”
“Yes, I think people are frustrated and the protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial sector works,” Obama said.
“Right now, this is a broad-based ‘we’re mad as hell, we want things fixed,’” said Nova Southeastern University History Professor Charles Zedon.
The Florida Occupy movement is drawing support from the state legislature.
“I’ll definitely be out there as the movement picks up,” said state representative Dwight Bullard. “I have no problem supporting that.”
Bullard believes the movement may be necessary to finally change things.
“What the people want and what the people are yearning for is a democracy that works in their best interest and if this is how it has to get done; this is the way it gets done,” Bullard said.
The collective group, Occupy Wall Street, said they are a “leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that we are the 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants.”
Professor Zeldon said the movement is similar to the Tea Party when it began.
“This new movement is blaming big business, it’s blaming the banks, it’s blaming corporate America, saying you’re the ones who got us into this mess we don’t like and we’re going to show our discontent by marching, by protesting, by being visible,” Zeldon said.
Zeldon said that if the Occupy Wall Street movement is to grow, it will have to focus on key issues and look for support amongst other groups. Unions in New York are joining in with the movement.
For a list of events across the U.S. visit Occupy Together’s Web site.