Daily Star file photo Occupy Niles drew supporters to the downtown in the fall. The movement continues with a number of events this month.

Archived Story

Former Green Party candidate to speak

Published 3:59pm Tuesday, January 10, 2012

While some “Occupy” movements have faded, the Occupy Southwest Michigan group is still going strong, organizer Matthew Rosenhagen said.

The group will host a community forum 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at New Bethel Baptist Church in Benton Harbor, featuring guest speaker David Cobb, an American activist and the 2004 presidential candidate of the Green Party.

The forum, titled “Creating Democracy and Challenging Corporate Rule,” will focus on the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United vs. FEC, which allowed for unlimited corporate spending on elections.

“No matter your political persuasion, it goes against what this country was founded on,” Rosenhagen said of the ruling. “You can see it already in the Republican campaign. People have to drop out after one state because they didn’t raise enough money to keep up.”

Cobb, an attorney and a spokesperson for the Move to Amend coalition, will help area residents understand the history behind the decision and how they can work to abolish “corporate personhood” — the constitutional protections currently extended to corporations.

The Move to Amend coalition is a nonpartisan organization that promotes a constitutional amendment that would end corporate personhood.

“The Supreme court ruled that a corporation was a legal person with 14th Amendment protections before they granted full personhood to African-Americans, immigrants, natives or women,” Cobb said earlier this week. “We recognize that amending the Constitution to restore the power of the people over corporations will not be easy … but is imperative to the progress of our nation.”

Cobb said he is hoping to add to the more than 158,000 people who have signed an online petition supporting the amendment.

‘Occupy the Courts, the Capitol’

Occupy Southwest Michigan is also planning an “Occupy the Courts” event Friday Jan. 20, the anniversary of the Citizens United vs. FEC ruling. It will take place at the Berrien County Courthouse in St. Joseph.

The group will also occupy Lansing, rallying with other groups across Michigan at the State Capitol Jan. 18, the date of Gov. Rick Snyder’s State of the State address.

Rosenhagen, who has led several rallies across southwest Michigan over the past few months, said the Occupy movement is here to stay.

“We’ve got a solid base of more than 300 people who have come to our events,” he said. “The question is what will we do next? We have the election coming up.”

For more information on any of the events, contact Rosenhagen at (269) 362-4763 or visit www.occupyswmichigan.org.

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