First 24 hours for Occupy Utica protesters a bit rainy

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - About 50 of the estimated crowd of 400 people who 'Occupied Utica' Thursday evening ended up spending the night. The diehard protesters say they will continue to 'Occupy Utica' at Liberty Bell Park, 24 hours a day, as long as the weather permits.

One of the organizers, Ken Keplinger says he does not want to put anyone's health in jeopardy, so as soon as the temperatures drop overnight to a temperature the group believes is unsafe, the protest will then only take place during the day.

Keplinger says they do plan to stay 24 hours a day, as long as they can.

Keplinger, who himself spent the night in a tent along Liberty Bell Park says it was rainy and cold on this first overnight, but it was an enthusiastic bunch who spent the night, "high spirits, a lot of people going by and honking for us. People from Utica, from businesses all over. They've been coming by, they're saying way to go, thanks for being out here for us , here's some food, here's some water."

The crowd was estimated to be about 400 during the peak 6:00 p.m. hour Thursday night, when the group held its kickoff event.

Just like their counterparts in the ongoing 'Occupy Wall Street' protest in New York City many of the protesters here in Utica chant and hold up signs with slogans about political and financial reform.

There a number of area college students, who work part-time as well, but are also finding the time to take part in the protest, overnight. One of those is Adam Hovey who attends M.V.C.C., "when we're not in our tents, we're normally organizing or out on the street. I think a lot of young people are starting to realize that we need to stand up and take action."

Occupy Utica co-organizer Diane Berry says everyone here is inspired, "People have a real commitment to hanging on, a real commitment to show that this is something we really want, we really want a turn in our society for economic justice, we really want to have a sustainable economy that supports everybody and that isn't happening right now."

Organizers say even if there's only one protester on the busy corner at a time, the group says they plan to maintain a presence here as long as they can.

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