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‘Occupy Toledo’ protest starts downtown

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Achilles Freeman of Toledo holds a sign during the 'Occupy Toledo' rally at Levis Square in downtown Toledo Monday.

The Blade/Amy E. Voigt
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The protest movement “Occupy Wall Street” popped up in Toledo Monday as more than 100 people representing a variety of public opinions began gathering at Levis Square downtown about 11 a.m.

The group, which calls itself Occupy Toledo but claims to have no particular leader, was scheduled to hold the first of two “general assemblies” Monday at 1 p.m.

PHOTO GALLERY: 'Occupy Toledo' in Levis Square Monday Oct. 10, 2011.

Toledo police officers patrolled on foot and from atop a nearby parking garage overlooking the square. A new city sign went up in front of the park informing the public that the park, at Madison Avenue and St. Clair Street, is closed from dusk to dawn, anticipating the possibility that protesters would want to camp out.

Many protesters hoisted hand-made signs expressing outrage about banks and corporations getting bailed out by the government.

Alex Read, 33, of Toledo, who said he is a federal government employee and member of the “International Socialist Organization,” held a banner that read, “Gay Black Straight White Same Struggle Same Fight.”

“What brings us out is capitalism and the absolutely crushing weight in places on people,” said Mr. Read. He said the banks have received “a blank check” while the people face loss of benefits. “The banks are too big to fail but the 99 percent of us aren’t,” said Mr. Read, who declined to say what government agency he works for.

Sheena Kadi, 29, of Maumee, said she was protesting the high cost of higher education.

“This could be the great defining social movement of our generation,” Ms. Kadi said. She said most of the protesters share as a grievance “the corruption of Wall Street and the damage they’ve done to this economy. Those individuals need to be held accountable.”

Among the protesters were some libertarians, who said the government should be reduced in size and the Federal Reserve Bank abolished.

Others protested nuclear power and some chanted in opposition to Issue 2, the referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot to reduce collective bargaining rights of public employees.

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