'We'll stay as long as we need to stay'

Although their numbers have dwindled, protesters affiliated with last week's Occupy Ashland demonstrations have been staying overnight in the Plaza since Thursday and will continue indefinitely, organizers said.

Up the street, another group of protestors has been occupying the sidewalk in front of Chase Bank every business day since Oct. 5.

The two groups joined forces Tuesday afternoon, when about 20 gathered in front of Chase Bank at 243 E. Main St., across from the Ashland Springs Hotel.

"We'll stay as long as we need to stay," said Michele Ellis, of Ashland, who has been in front of Chase Bank during each of the four demonstrations there. "I don't think we've defined a stopping point."

Ellis, who works as an independent producer, brought a chair and her laptop so she could continue working through the day.

Chase protest organizer and Ashland resident Robbie Lindauer said the group will be there at noon each day Chase is open until "they close this stupid bank."

Meanwhile, the Occupy Ashland protestors hold a general assembly on the Plaza at 6 each night. Monday night's assembly attracted about 50 people. Organizers have collected about $50 in donations to provide food for protesters each evening and morning.

Organizers are working to establish a migration plan for moving protesters to Medford this weekend, when an Occupy Medford protest is planned for noon Saturday in Alba Park.

They said more people are needed to continue the occupation, however.

"Very important organizers are getting worn out," said Emery Way, 24, a member of Ashland's student-led activist group Phronesis, which helped organize Occupy Ashland. "There are not enough people staying out every night, and they are the same people staying out every night."

Way, who has continued to occupy the Plaza since Thursday, said about eight or nine people come out each night.

"If you support this happening, then you need to ask yourself, 'Can I be here for a couple hours?'" said Liza Maltsberger, 45, of Ashland. "The people that are doing this are smart, thoughtful and very hard working."

Maltsberger, who stayed for a three-hour shift on Saturday and Sunday nights, said it was news of people staying out overnight in the Plaza that attracted her to the protest in the first place.

"I felt the momentum because of it," she said. "I've never really done anything like this, so I kind of keep moving past my horizons of awareness, and I feel like I'm losing my passivity."

Sam Price, 31, of Medford, who attended the Occupy Portland protest last weekend, said it's nice to see people in Ashland sticking with it. He said the structure of Occupy Ashland is being echoed on a larger scale in Portland, with nightly general assemblies and a will to carry on.

"People everywhere know that there is criminality and corruption oozing out of Wall Street," he said. "What we don't know is what to do about it in a system that's broken.

"I think people have just decided to stay put until that system is fixed."

Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email swheeler@dailytidings.com.

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