Rebekah Jenkins, who was visiting home in Rossville for the weekend from her college in Chicago, came to Miller Plaza on Friday night for the Occupy Chattanooga meeting. The size of the group already there shocked her.
About 150 people signed a sheet with their emails to stay updated on the movement in Chattanooga. The Occupy Chicago group, which she and her boyfriend joined last Thursday, was much smaller at first, she said.
The meeting started at 6 p.m. with Ash-Lee Henderson, one of the local movement's facilitators, explaining that the people would split into eight groups, where they'd come to a consensus on the most important issues for Occupy Chattanooga to bring up.
Jenkins joined the group facilitated by Lucy Landis, a 22-year-old college student. The group talked about the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which, as 26-year-old history buff David Ingle explained, allowed single entities to own many media outlets. They also talked about universal health care.
"But not just emergency care," Jenkins added, "we need preventative health care."
They talked about corporations' ability to contribute money to political campaigns.
"We need to end corporate personhood," Jenkins told the group, "because it hurts the real people, and that's us."
After each of the eight groups chose its most important issues, all of the groups met together and agreed that each of the issues were important.
"[The process] is not quick," Jenkins said, "and it shouldn't be. But it is fair."
About 21/2 hours after the meeting started, a woman congratulated Henderson on the size of the group.
"This is small potatoes compared to where we're going," Henderson replied. Earlier, she said, "This is the first day of Occupy Chattanooga, and we're not going to stop until we have social justice."
They will meet again next week on Friday at 6 p.m. in Miller Plaza.
Although the group is still waiting on a permit, Occupy Chattanooga handed out fliers for a rally at Miller Plaza on Oct. 29 at 1 p.m. for "good jobs, living wages, public education."