Manchester, N.H. (Jan. 7, 2012) — Chanting, singing and drumming brought Occupy New Hampshire Primary protesters together on the first night of their gathering here.
“We are the 99 percent! We are the 99 percent!” and “Mic check!” echoed from the megaphone through Veteran’s Memorial Park.
The scene was a camp of blue and purple tents spread out along the west side of the park. Hand-painted signs were strung across the park entrance, set up along fences and wielded by chanting protesters. Among their messages: “Democracy is Non-Profit” and “99% Is Too Big To Fail!” and “Money Out of Politics.”
A 10-foot-tall elephant watched over the protesters. The elephant was a gray moveable sculpture—a D.I.Y. two-week project—with a monitor mounted on its back. Streaming video featured voters’ questions aimed at presidential candidates.
Nicole Moore, of Concord, Mass., helped her stepmother build the “Elephant In the Rooom.” She is a sophomore at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, N.Y. She was excited, she said, to be at her first Occupy gathering. “Everyone is upbeat,” she said.
One speaker, Stephen Squibb, challenged the Republican presidential candidates’ economic policies. [See video]
Another protester expressed his disappointment in the current system of government. “It is supposed to be set up for the benefit of the people,” said Ken Jaggard, a 34-year-old freelance artist and writer living in Manchester.
As the protesters relished their togetherness, leaflets reminded them of a curfew: anyone occupying after 11 p.m. would be arrested.
(Elizabeth Carey, a graduate student in the magazine, newspaper and online journalism program at Syracuse University, is covering the New Hampshire primary for the Utica Observer-Dispatch.)