Occupiers widen focus to societal issues #Jan24DIVEST

BY CATHY MCKITRICK | The Salt Lake Tribune | Jan 23 2012

While its urban camps have shrunk or disappeared, the Occupy Wall Street movement continues a nationwide social-justice fight on several fronts.

Occupy SLC’s Pioneer Park camp existed for five weeks last fall until police razed it after the death of a homeless man. Since then, a small cluster of tents has been allowed to remain in the city’s downtown Gallivan Center.

“It’s still very important that we have a presence here,” activist Seth Neily said of the canvas enclave. “We are continuing to educate and promote awareness about the issues at hand.”

Last week Utah Occupiers joined Move to Amend and other groups throughout the country to protest Citizens United, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows unlimited corporate cash in political campaigns. Activists staged a protest at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City on Sunday, leading to one arrest.

Tuesday, protesters take aim at prison privatization, teaming with the National Prison Divestment Campaign for what they’re calling a national day of action. Local activists will congregate at the corner of West Temple and 200 South in Salt Lake City at 11 a.m. for a rally urging Wells Fargo bank to divest of its holdings in the for-profit private prison industry.

“The prison industrial complex is a racist business that profits off of human beings and the working poor,” said activist Victor Puertas of Salt Lake City.

Advocates also claim the industry victimizes immigrants in government custody.

Utah is home to the third largest private prison provider in the nation, the Centerville-based Management Training Corporation. According to its website, MTC operates two correction centers in Arizona, one in California, one in Florida, one in Idaho, one in Ohio, two in New Mexico and 11 in Texas.

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