Coloradans Share Their Experience With Protests, Free Speech

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Occupy Wall Street protests have spread to Colorado. We asked Coloradans to share their experience with protests through our Public Insight Network. Here's a sampling of their comments:

"I joined the October 15 Occupy Wall Street rally in Grand Junction. A wide range of people (participated in the rally), in excess of 100, representing all economic sectors, from the homeless to jobless, to those still economically well off who are concerned about economic justice. "
-Jeff Evans, Grand Junction

"Wall Street collapsed and I lost a good 25 percent of my retirement investment. The street and banks got bailed out and now they are getting fat and I am working 2,000 miles from home in New York."
-James Reed, Castle Rock (protested at Occupy Wall Street in New York)

"Individually, all seemed kind of embarrassing and pointless. I don't like standing on concrete in the hot/cold and my feet hurt. However, our mass public demonstrations against the Vietnam War convinced our parents and congressmen that the war had to be brought to an end. Our demonstrations for civil rights gained freedoms for African Americans and women. Our unrelenting push for gay rights is changing attitudes about gay people in families and the military and raising awareness about related issues in the workplace, housing, schools, etc. Standing witness to injustice, shining a light on it has value in a society."
-Colleen Bryan, Denver (Occupy Denver protester)

"I've personally met with a local credit union and begun to transfer all of my available assets from banks (US Bank, Citi, Bank of America, Wells Fargo) to a local credit union. ... Although I do not feel the marches do much right away, it keeps the momentum going for actual actions (changing banks, voting to elect better leaders, etc)."
-Jenny Kedward, Pueblo

"In 1960, I participated in the sit-in in Tallahassee, Florida to demonstrate against segregation. In 1968 I participated in a rally at the University of Miami against the war in Vietnam. ... For the first item, I was raised in New England where I went to integrated schools and lived in an integrated housing development. In fact, I learned to play football from a gentleman who was Yale University's first black football captain. For the second item, I worked in an international department at the university's marine laboratory where we all got along and could discuss anything peacefully. Having lost so many students at that time and seeing the destruction every night on the TV news, I felt I had to support the anti-war movement."
-Bill Eyl, Berthoud

"I would participate if the methods were right. In other words, I woudl participate if the objective of Occupy Wall Street were to shut Wall Street down, make it impossible for people to report to work, make it highly unsafe for bankers to be on the streets of New York City without armed escort. I would participate if the objective were to destroy bank property, in just retaliation for the destruction and seizure of wealth belonging to millions who watched their life savings disappear overnight as a consequence of corporate greed. I would particpate if the occupation were an expression of mass rage, and a dire warning to government, not just an expression of lukewarm unhappiness over the current state of affairs."
-Paul Roseberry, Cedaredge

"I'm sick of the government ruining everything including education, this country's financial and lending institutions and the energy sector! If you took the government out of the economy, the Occupy Wall Street idiots would have nothing to protest!"
-Kelly Valenzuela, Denver

"When I was in college in Baltimore in 1969-1973, I demonstrated in Washington D.C. against the war in Vietnam as a member of Students for a Democratic Society; and organized on campus protests. More recently I marched in Denver in support of the Wisconsin 14 in February 2011. I'm in my early 60s now and am providing support to Occupy Wall Street. I am hoping to get more engaged in this movement - I think it's the responsibility of all thinking people in this country to do something about the vast division of wealth and the oligarchy that has developed since Ronald Reagan became president."
-Rachel Shapiro, Denver

[Photo: Protesters clash with police at Occupy Denver demonstrations in downtown Denver. CPR/Zachary Barr]