Occupy Nashville Seeks To Identify Itself

Occupy Nashville gathers on the steps of Legislative Plaza for Wednesdays' "general assembly."

Occupy Nashville gathers on the steps of Legislative Plaza for Wednesdays’ “general assembly.”

With threat of arrest now gone, Occupy Nashville demonstrators are grappling with how they appear to the outside world. On Wednesday night, the group debated whether to take control of that image by collecting demographic information amongst themselves that can be shared with the media.

The concern, as one protestor put it, is that the group is seen as being “riff-raff,”

Kyra Gaunt-Palmer says the group actually seems to be fairly diverse. Its nightly meetings draw a range of people, from the unemployed to working doctors and lawyers. She says it’s important to be able to show just who all makes up the so-called “99 percent.”

“So it really is important that we identify ourselves, because this movement is about occupying our own place in this society and having the power to say what this country is about and what this city is about and what this locality is about.”

Gaunt-Palmer, an anthropologist, makes the case for gathering data on Occupy participants as another group member looks on.

Gaunt-Palmer, an anthropologist, makes the case for gathering data on Occupy participants as another group member looks on.

But several voiced opposition, saying the act of taking inventory could actually narrow the perception of who makes up their movement. One man, who identified himself as a homeless advocate, thought emphasizing participants’ status could marginalize the very poor.

The group ultimately decided it would circulate a sort of sign-in sheet at each meeting where people could choose how to identify themselves–as a student, for example, or as a member of a political party–although participation is strictly optional.

The Vanderbilt College Republicans are expected to stage a counter protest Thursday evening. In a press release, that group accused the Occupy movement of engaging in “petty class warfare.”

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