Some Plaza protesters plan to stay

Some participants in the Occupy Ashland protest say they plan to stay in the Plaza indefinitely.

About 15 people spent the night on the Plaza Thursday and several planned to do so again Friday night.

"We'll be here again tonight, and through the weekend," Emery Way said Friday morning. "Following the path of Occupy Wall Street, we're going to keep it up for as long as we see reasonable."

Way, 24, a member of Ashland's student-led activist group Phronesis, sipped coffee and ate a modest breakfast provided by protest organizers Friday morning, along with about a dozen others who stayed through the night. He said on Thursday night the group kept a few people awake at all times, in an attempt to keep police from citing the protesters for illegal camping.

No citations have been issued in relation to the protests so far, said Ashland Police Deputy Chief Corey Falls.

Way said he would stay in the Plaza for "as long as it takes," so long as the group's numbers don't dwindle too low.

"If at the end of the night we only have two people willing to stay, then we won't," he said.

Kai Lewis-Kelly, 19, of Ashland said he would stay in the Plaza with or without the company of other protesters.

"I'll be the last one out here," said Lewis-Kelly, who grew up in the Rogue Valley. "This is the most important thing I could be doing. "… I'll be the one who gets arrested if it comes down to that."

About 40 people were gathered on the Plaza at noon Friday, the scheduled beginning of the rally's second and final day. Shortly after, a group of about 25 marched to Ashland's Chase Bank, where about half stayed and protested until its closing.

The Plaza on Friday was occupied by the usual passersby, and a few dozen protesters throughout the day. On Thursday, about 250 people attended the protest events in the Plaza.

Robbie Lindauer of Ashland, an organizer of the Chase Bank protest, said some of the group would continue to protest in front of Chase through the weekend, starting at noon each day.

Shannon Harris, 37, of Ashland, who participated in both days of the Occupy Ashland protest at the Plaza, waved a sign in front of Chase Bank Friday that read, "Stop the 1 percent — don't let the rich control your life."

"I'm here because I'm tired," she said. "I'm tired of everyday people having to struggle as hard as they've had to struggle. They've gone to college, they've paid their mortgages, and they're just not making it."

Harris said she knows changing the financial system and economic structure of the U.S. will take more than a two-day rally in Ashland, more than the Occupy Wall Street protest and more than the similar smaller-scale protests that mushroomed in cities around the nation.

"But at least people are getting off their butts," she said. "It's going to be a long process of change, we just have to stay with it."

Ashland Police responded to a report of protesters blocking sidewalk traffic in front of Chase Bank at about 1:45 p.m., Friday, but APD officer Matt Caswell, who responded to the call, said protesters were cooperative when they were asked to keep the path clear.

Falls said police would not issue citations for illegal camping to protesters who stay overnight in the Plaza, so long as they do not camp.

"The report we got last night was that no one was camping," he said, Friday. "They can be there as long as they want, they just can't camp there."

There are mixed levels of commitment among the protesters in Ashland, said Way, but he encouraged people to continue protesting in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

"It's always difficult to keep up the sort of momentum we had going the first day," he said, "but that's what we need people to do "… make the Plaza your home."

Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email

Share This Story