occupy wall street

Occupy Eugene medical clinic serves low-income families and homeless

Occupy Eugene began on October 15, 2011.

The Occupy movement began on September 17, 2011, with a protest in Zuccotti Park, New York. Initiated by Adbusters, an anti-consumerist magazine from Canada known for their spoofs of popular advertisements, the movement used “We are the 99%” as their slogan to highlight the economic disparity between the wealthiest individuals, the 1%, and everyone else. While the protest at Zuccotti Park took aim at Wall Street, protests all over the world began to emerge, each grounding itself in specific localities and addressing not just Wall Street but local issues.

Occupy Eugene began with a march on October 15, 2011. Taking place at Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza, it began with a similar emphasis on Wall Street and economic corruption. Eugene’s protest ended up at the Washington/Jefferson bridge area, forming a camp-out for individuals to network and speak out.

Volunteers set up Occupy Eugene’s medical clinic at the downtown park on 8th.

A crucial part of the Eugene camp-out began to emerge: a medical clinic that treated conditions of people hurt by the economic recession and lacking in health insurance and treatment options. As Occupy Eugene began to address local homelessness issues, however, the clinic’s importance took on a whole new dimension.

Sue Sierralupe, a sustainable landscape educator and medical herbalist from Eugene, is one of the organizers of Occupy Eugene’s Medical Clinic. Sierralupe explains the transition of the clinic:

“When the homeless came to join our camp-out, we had a complete change of focus. We originally just had one doctor. With new conditions and a new set of people to treat, we knew we needed to expand.”

The Eugene Police Department shut down the Occupy Eugene camp-out at Washington/Jefferson in December of 2011, after a protestor was found attacked, being beaten and choked and having suffered multiple facial fractures. Sierralupe said that, once the shut down happened, the clinic knew its work had just begun.

We realized that all the homeless would have nowhere to go. They would try to survive under bridges until they died.”

The medical clinic has 3 professional doctors on staff, as well as nurses, a pharmacist, a pediatrist, as well as a dental hygienist.

Sierralupe and other organizers for the clinic re-grouped in February of this year to re-open their clinic.

We re-grouped as a triage clinic. We have 3 professional doctors, as well as nurses, a pharmacist, and a pediatrist. We also have a dental hygienist.”

Everything used by the Eugene clinic is donated.

“It’s all 100% donations,” Sierralupe says.

“Volunteers buy bandaids or donate socks.”

Socks are especially important for the homeless, Sierralupe explains. Many individuals that come to the clinic have just one pair of socks and they are usually worn out and wet from all the rain.

“It’s horrifying and sad, the condition of some of these peoples’ feet.”

The medical clinic also works with international medical teams and St. Vincent de Paul to hold dental clinics. Four times a year they do free extractions, juggling severity of need with the amount of volunteers in order to determine who to help.

“The dental clinics take well over 100 hours of volunteer work to put together.”

The clinic takes place every Sunday, from 1-5 pm at the downtown parks on 8th, where the Saturday Market is held. Everyone is welcome, Sierralupe stresses.

“We serve not just the homeless but low-income families, children—anyone who walks through the door. This is free preventative care in the park for our city.”

One of the most significantly common problems that the clinic has encountered is hepatitis, both B and C.

“Hepatitis is a huge killer,” Sierralupe explains.

The clinic has plans in the works for a mobile clinic as well.

“We don’t do tests but we can get prescriptions filled for free. We also have free herbal supplements. Milk thistle is a a wonderfully preventative measure that is holistic.”

Everyone working at the clinic is either a volunteer, a retired professional, or a current professional that is already working full-time but wants to give to the community.

Looking to the future, the clinic has plans in the works for a mobile clinic as well. A volunteer says,

“We are working on a mobile clinic with a wheelchair lift, to go around the county and do what we do here, but everywhere we can. We are waiting on a grant from a community foundation in Oregon.”

For the time being, though, Sierralupe and her associates have their hands full, serving hundreds of people that walk through their doors and into their makeshift tent.

Our endeavor is to prove a positive role model for holistic care, especially with all these debates about single payer health systems and whether they work. It does work and it is working right now. We are doing what everyone says cannot be done and we are doing it on a dime.”

For Sierralupe, this is not just healthcare, it is the right thing to do.

It’s not our job to judge, it’s our job to heal. Isolation drives so many people in our community to live unhealthy lives. And sometimes the most basic, human, and effective healthcare is love. Big hugs do wonders here.”

If you are interested in donating to the clinic, Sierralupe says that the items they most need are socks, vitamins, and children’s items. For more information about the clinic and Occupy Eugene, go to http://occupyeugenemedia.org/. For more information about Sue Sierralupe, visit her blog at http://www.herbalistmanifesto.com/herbs/. You can visit at the clinic every Sunday from 1-5 pm at the parks on 8th between Willamette Street and Pearl Street.

Occupy Eugene negotiates with Eugene police to peacefully protest Saturday

Occupy Eugene will have a protest and march Saturday at an undisclosed location to bring attention to the fact that big corporations are funding a large part of the federal government.

Sam Chapman, a University senior and political activist, has always been envious of his parents’ stories of protests and political activism.

So when he heard about the emergence of the Occupy Wall Street on Sept. 17, he decided to start a Facebook group to rally supporters in Eugene.

“This is our generation’s Vietnam,” Chapman said. “This is our chance to express opinions.”

Although there is no common goal for the group, Chapman explains the movement was started because 99 percent of the population do not hold the wealth and power in this country.

“The umbrella reason is that people are fed up with corporate greed,” Chapman said, explaining that people have joined for thousands of reasons.

Despite the fact that media outlets are criticizing the movement, some politicians are stepping out and endorsing it. One of those politicians is Oregon Rep. Phil Barnhart (D-Eugene).

“The backlash started slowly, but will grow and grow. Despite the best efforts of big media to ignore it,” Barnhart said. “The ‘Occupy’ movement is a sign that ordinary folks will insist on major positive change in a political system dominated by oligarchs bent on maintaining their own power at the expense of most Americans.”

The route of Saturday’s march and the locations for the protest have not been made available, because the group wants to make sure that there is a peaceful assembly of people. According to Chapman, the group has been in close contact with the Eugene Police Department to address any concerns they might have.

“We won’t announce the location until an hour before the event. A successful movement is a peaceful movement,” Chapman said. “We just wanted to let them know we’re not against them.”

Though the official occupation march and protest will take place on Saturday, several smaller groups have taken it upon themselves to protest at the Bank of America.

Barnhart attended one of those protests on Wednesday. He said that, although he goes to quite a few protests in general, he didn’t recognize many people, which he took to mean that the concern of big corporations having too much control of the government is affecting more people.

“Having a lot of people here who I don’t recognize is a really good thing,” he said.

Melinda McLaughlin, the director of public information for the Eugene Police Department, said there have been several meetings between the two parties and they’ve even offered to help them gain the permits for the march.

“We don’t expect there will be any trouble,” McLaughlin said.

Inside Outlaw – Occupy Eugene


 The New York Times quoted a woman giving advice to a new protester. “It doesn’t matter what you’re protesting,” she said. “Just protest.”

The Occupy Wall Street protest, vague in its goals and a little cloudy in its origins, is gaining momentum as it branches out across the nation with the help of social media. Occupy Eugene is one of the more than 100 reported participants in the fledgling movement.

EDN’s Inside Outlaw stopped in on Saturday’s protest/membership drive to get a first hand account.


Some information from around the internet:

Occupation Declaration: http://occupywallst.org/forum/first-official-release-from-occupy-wall-street/

Faq: http://www.thenation.com/article/163719/occupy-wall-street-faq

15 definitions of Freedom: http://rortybomb.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/fifteen-definitions-of-freedom-from-occupywallstreet/

Occupy Eugene: https://www.facebook.com/groups/occupyeugene/

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