Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Activist hopes shutdown will spark ‘Occupy Congress’ movement

October 2, 2013


Steve Robinson says he hasn't engaged in any political demonstrations for the last year or so.

For the most part, the longtime Lawrence resident and former activist in the local Occupy movement has lived a quiet life with his wife and their dogs since that movement faded in 2012.

But Robinson said he got fired up again this week when Congress failed to pass a spending bill before the end of the federal fiscal year, leading to a partial shutdown of the federal government.

"This time, it was personal," Robinson said, noting that his wife, Lori, was immediately furloughed from her job with an agency within the Department of Interior.

Steve Robinson, an activist in the Occupy Lawrence movement in 2011, was among a handful of protesters demonstrating at South Park today against the ongoing federal government shutdown. Robinson says the shutdown should reignite the populist street movement that initially focused on economic and social justice issues.

Steve Robinson, an activist in the Occupy Lawrence movement in 2011, was among a handful of protesters demonstrating at South Park today against the ongoing federal government shutdown. Robinson says the shutdown should reignite the populist street movement that initially focused on economic and social justice issues.

For several hours Wednesday, Robinson and fellow activist Dan Dimmitt stood along Massachusetts Street next to South Park, waving signs and chanting "Occupy Congress."

It was a hastily called event that drew few other participants, but Robinson and Dimmitt gave no indication they plan to give up, unless Congress quickly resolves the stalemate.

Unlike the earlier "Occupy Wall Street" movement — which was notable for its lack of leadership, cohesion or a singular purpose — Robinson said he has a clear and definite purpose today.

"Anybody who reads the paper knows what we're protesting for," he said. "We want the government funded, with no political gimmicks or strings attached."

On Wednesday, Robinson and his wife began contacting their old Occupy allies, arranging a gathering at South Park, ostensibly to start planning a new mission. His aim, he said, would be to "occupy" the nearest district offices of U.S. Reps. Lynn Jenkins and Kevin Yoder.

Jenkins, whose district includes Lawrence, and Yoder, of Overland Park, are both Republicans who have voted with the GOP House majority in demanding that any extension of federal spending authority be tied to either defunding or delaying the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

"That's the logical thing to do," he said. "That's certainly one of the things I would encourage people to do if we start building a group."

At the very least, Robinson said, he wants Rep. Jenkins to return to the district and explain her voting record on the issues that led up to the shutdown.

"One of the things we could do is request a meeting with her immediately so she can explain herself, because she has some explaining to do," he said.

On Sunday, two days before the shutdown, Jenkins issued a statement saying she supported the GOP position of delaying the implementation of federal health reform.

"The wheels are coming off of ObamaCare and I will keep fighting for hardworking, middle class families to get the same delay President Obama already gave big business, big unions, and big insurance," Jenkins said in the statement.


Cait McKnelly 4 years, 7 months ago

Why should Jenkins come back to Kansas? She's having too much fun at the Beltway cocktail parties the Teapublicans are throwing to celebrate their victory in finally shutting the government down.

Matthew Herbert 4 years, 7 months ago

Two guys standing in a park chanting is not a demonstration. You two guys really showed them!

Keith 4 years, 7 months ago

The Left, like the Army, is always fighting the last war, using the last war's tactics.

snitty 4 years, 7 months ago

This is one of the best things about Lawrence. It has plenty of great people willing to resist the rightward authoritarian trend that is poisoning the rest of Kansas. Go Robbo!

Catalano 4 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, a disbarred lawyer who's high all the time. Great representation of Kansas. Keepin' it classy, as always, Robbo.

Matthew Herbert 4 years, 7 months ago

"plenty" of great people. I count two, according to the article.

Michael LoBurgio 4 years, 7 months ago

Lynn Jenkins is still recovering from her free trip to Ireland this summer!

Members of Congress Fly Away Free to Emerald Isle on $450K-$750K Trip

The first two of possibly 31 members of Congress have returned and filed a travel report on a wonderful and free trip to Dublin, Ireland, for themselves and a guest. The gifts of free travel were estimated by the paying sponsors to cost between $6,875 and $11,903 for each person.

The vacation time invitees were most of the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives, including the speaker*, majority leader, majority whip, eight committee chairmen, and five subcommittee chairmen. We don’t know how many invitees actually went on the trip and while invited, the Speaker did not go.

This type of free trip not only covers the members’ expenses but provides a rare opportunity for the sponsor to cover the costs of a spouse or family member. For members who are not home that much, the free trip is a great payback to the spouse. The spouse or family member has plenty of time for sightseeing and enjoying the foreign city.

eljakeo 4 years, 7 months ago

Lol... I'm sure this "Occupy" movement will be just as effective as the last one!

FarleyM 4 years, 7 months ago

National Intelligence Director Clapper said the country is not as save because of shutdown. And Obama said the stock market will crash.

I hope these two Occupationists get to the Beltway soon to protest.

stevieboy 4 years, 7 months ago

Looks like he hasn't missed many meals..

Dan Blomgren 4 years, 7 months ago

Do any of you 'activists' really think that holding signs in South Park in Lawrence, Ks will have ANY affect in Washington D.C.? You may get cheered on by passing motorists honking their horns, but again it doesn't change a thing in D.C. where it matters. Hey here's an idea: how about instead of standing on a street corner all day holding signs you spend those hours writing letters to those who can make a difference? Maybe make your voice heard? Stop the useless and foolish behavior, and do something that actually makes your voices heard because honking cars in Lawrence fall on deaf ears in D.C.!

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