Occupy Denver: City Council's Susan Shepherd calls protests most important thing in country
This weekend, in a crowd estimated between 2,000 and 4,000 people, Susan Shepherd managed to stand out. The Denver City council member represents District 1 in an official capacity, but in the few days since her first rally with Occupy Denver, she has stepped out as a staunch supporter of the ideals behind the national and local action. This morning, The Latest Word spoke to the city councilwoman, mother and occupation supporter about the future of the city's relationship with a group it has pepper-sprayed. (Teaser: She remains optimistic.)
Westword: What inspired you to take a public stance in support of Occupy Denver?
Susan Shepherd: I grew up in a working poor family in the 1970s, and my mom worked forty hours a week. There was just never enough money to pay all the bills, so she would make choices like giving up a phone, a car or electricity to put food on our table. Our house was foreclosed on when I was young, and I remember all of that happening. As an adult, I've been unemployed, underemployed and sick without insurance. I've used the ER without insurance and paid that price. All of these things are ones that the people down in the movement are expressing grave concerns about, and I've experienced them, too. It's just natural for me to be down in the movement.
WW: What was your impression of the rally you attended on Saturday?
Jenn Wohletz Supporters gather for an Occupy Denver demonstration at Civic Center Park.
SS: To be honest, I thought it was amazing. I was really moved by the incredible range of people from all walks of life who were there. There's something that's resonating with people there, whether they're gainfully employed and handling all of their bills or not. A lot of people are just struggling to make it these days, and that's a lot of the people I saw down there. It was working people and not-working people, but we were all there for the same reasons.
I saw several of the constituents from my neighborhood. I saw union members, youth, disabled people, older folks, people of different races and identities, even children. There was a kid who stood up and said, "I am here because I want to have a future." He was an eight-year-old kid speaking on behalf of himself and his little sister, and that was absolutely the most compelling thing I've seen so far. We need to be thinking about what we're leaving for future generations. I have a three-year-old son, and that's something I can relate to.