I didn't know what exactly to expect on Saturday afternoon when I made my way down to the Occupy Bend rally and march. When I arrived about 10 minutes before the scheduled beginning, there were only about 50 people in the square, holding signs and generally just milling about.
But within 20 minutes, the mood had changed, as had the attendance, which had swelled to upwards of 400 by the time the protestors took to the street for a march that culminated back at the Occupy Bend site on Wall Street and Olney (which has since been packed up).
The critics of the Occupy Wall Street movement have decried the loose cluster of causes the group has championed, and some of that was seen on Saturday with signs regarding anti-war sentiment or, as far as I could tell, a few Tea Party-oriented anti-government sentiment. But, by and large, the speeches were focused on the financial inequality that has been the focal point of this movement.
Chris Lawler, who at 23 has been one of the most vocal members of the local Occupy movement, was at the microphone for most of the time, leading chants, but also making an appeal to younger people in Central Oregon, urging them to get out and get involved. He had a point. The crowd was mostly comprised of 50-and-older folks.
Interestingly, I didn't see a single police officer the entire time, which made sense. This was a hardly rowdy crowd. I did, however, spot a less-than-enthused security guard standing at the doors of the nearby Bank of America.
Here are some videos from the event: