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Protesters take to Liberty Bell Plaza for Occupy Utica event

By HILARY LANE

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The movement has been spreading like wildfire - Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Chicago, Occupy D.C., and now Occupy Utica.

Hundreds of people gathered in Liberty Bell Park in downtown Utica on Thursday to spread their message of necessary financial and political reform on a local and national level.

"It all really comes back to a feeling that your issues aren't represented by your representatives, because to get in to office, your representatives have to sell out to the people that put them in their position," says Joe Bepko, an Occupy Utica protester.

Bepko says he plans to occupy Liberty Bell Park for weeks. He will go to work and shower at home, but then will camp-out and spend as much time as he can downtown.

"We have to build momentum to make these changes, because the changes are huge," says Bepko. "It is not just an overnight thing. We have to hold ground."

You may have heard on the news that hundreds of protesters nationwide have been arrested for unlawful assembly and trespassing. However, Sergeant Steve Hauck of the Utica Police Department says he does not foresee a problem in Utica.

"They are not going to be in the street, they are not going to block sidewalks," says Sergeant Hauck. "They shouldn't impede or infringe on anyone's rights to walk by there and there are no residents there, only businesses, so we do not expect it to impact anybody."

The Occupy Utica group is leaderless in design, so there was no one person willing to sign for a permit to gather in public - which is not a crime, but is against city ordinance.

Sergeant Hauck says he does not plan on taking any kind of action unless the peaceful protests get out of control.

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