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Occupied in Central Kitsap — The year of the movements and protests

Since August, Joey Dashner has been looking for a part-time job — any job — to work while he finishes his senior year at Central Kitsap Alternative West High School.

“The odds aren’t really friendly for someone looking for a job,” said Dashner, 18, last week.

He’s applied to more than 20 different jobs from retail to food and customer service positions but hasn’t had any success yet. He’s not ready to give up nor stay quiet about it. Dashner has been working on his culminating senior project — each student is required to do a project on anything of interest to them — on the occupy movement that started on Wall Street and spread around the world.

For Dashner, the occupy movement is about changing the status quo and holding those responsible for injustices in society. Issues surrounding the economy and having more jobs available for citizens are important topics to him, he said

Everyone has their own reasons for supporting — or opposing — the movement but Dashner thinks that every person is affected in some way by the things being discussed by occupy supporters and movement protestors.

“People need to care,” he said. “If you pay taxes, buy at the store, own a home, then this is something that affects you.”

The occupy movement has turned into a protest movement drawn across the United States focusing on economic and social inequality among citizens. The first protest, Occupy Wall Street, began in mid-September in New York City. Since then, other occupy groups have formed and demonstrations have sprouted in others cities and communities.

In Kitsap County, members of Occupy Bremerton congregated outside of the county courthouse building in Port Orchard earlier this month to protest against foreclosure auctions.

The protest was not targeted against any individual but rather the shadow mortgage system which processes home sales “illegally,” according to a statement from the group.

“Occupy Bremerton stands in silent witness to the suffering of the homeowners who are losing their homes unfairly, including service members on active duty, and to the buyers who discover they have purchased property without clear title,” read the statement.

Adding to the overall weight of the movement, Time Magazine declared “the protestor” as its 2011 Person of the Year. Each year, Time selects an individual, someone who has had a significant influence, as its “person of the year.” This year’s “protestor” is added to the ranks of past recipients of the distinction like Bill and Melinda Gates, President Barack Obama and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

And with 2011 soon-to-be a year in the past, will the occupy movement and its protestors also be?

“It’s not going anywhere — just because it’s not talked about,” Dashner said adding that often times the only focus of occupy protesting, or any protesting in general, is when the police come in and pepper spray a group or there is other violence or destruction involved.

The negative attention isn’t the only part of the movement that is going on.

“These are people that will scream just to be heard,” he said. “That’s not what the movement is about.”

Although his mother, Marcy Dashner, said she is a republican and a lot of her views differ with her son’s liberal opinions — especially when it comes to the occupy movement — she is proud of him for speaking up and voicing his views.

“He’s very involved for being so young,” said Marcy Dashner. “Some kids don’t care.”

The mother and son always respectful listen to what the other has to say even though they most often do not agree. One thing they do agree on has to do with the bill that was passed by Congress and the Senate on next year’s National Defense Authorization Act.

The act is a federal law that specifies the budget and expenditures of the Department of Defense. This time the NDAA could give the military the right to detain anyone who is a threat to national security without due process.

“The changes are declaring us as a battleground,” said Joey Dashner.

Speaking his mind has never been something Joey Dashner has been shy of. With his senior project on the occupy movement, he will focus on how protesting throughout history has led to positive changes including women’s suffrage and civil rights.

And he won’t stop at just researching and reading up on as many sources he can on current inequalities. He’s out there protesting with the rest of them. Joey Dashner said he has participated in several occupy protests in Seattle, where he lived for eight months before the autumn.

Joey Dashner hopes other young people will get involved too.

“Changes are happening right now that are going to affect everyone — my future, my kids’ futures,” he said.

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