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Marcus Demery documents Occupy protest
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Wide range of youth activists turn out for candidates, parties, causes
October 25, 2012



           Since the beginning of the year, Y-Press members have been busy covering the Republican and Democratic candidates and their supporters. In the process, they have talked with a wide array of youth activists from around the country. A few from Indiana are pictured below, from left to right: Daqavise Winston, Judah Lohrman, Marcus Demery, and Mason Garard.


Daqavise Winston, 18                                                                       

Muncie, IN

              Daqavise Winston has always had a love for politics and for his community. “I enjoy working with the policy and electoral process,” he explained.

            In high school, he joined the presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton and was asked to lead the Indiana High School Democrats, which represents High School Democrats chapters across the state. He also became co-communications director of the High School Democrats of America.

            Currently a freshman at Ball State University, he intends to major in social studies education. Still, he’s campaigning for Democrats Joe Donnelly for U.S. Senate and John Gregg for governor and serving as chairman of the platform committee of Indiana Young Democrats.

             “It is my duty to help write a platform that we hope our state party will adopt in 2014,” he explained. “This platform will more in tune to what Democrats stand for across the spectrum.”

Describe the issue you think is most pressing for our country. Why?

The economy, hands down. Our fiscal crisis is the most pressing issue we have faced in awhile. It is very saddening when we see our elected officials put their elections before the people they were elected to serve.

I will take a lot of heat for this next statement (but) Democrats have to realize that we must have balanced budgets that cut spending and reform entitlement programs. I commend Representative Paul Ryan for his courage to take on the task of cutting waste and reforming entitlement programs.

According to researchers, youth voter turnout increased from 2004 to 2008; however, fewer youth are expected to turn out for this year’s election. Why do you think that is?

For one, youth are not taken as serious as they should be. In 2008, because of the nature of the campaigns, youth had many reasons to be excited and involved as they were given  more options of getting involved besides the usual phone bank and canvass jobs. This year, the main issues are not ones that excite youth or really pertain to them. 

Do you see yourself as politically involved in the future?

I hope to one day be a candidate myself. In the meantime, I will continue to be involved in the elections here in Indiana and encourage others to get involved in shaping the direction and policy of the future.

 * * * * * *

 Judah Lohrman, 16                                                                    

Brazil, IN

        Judah Lohrman first began to take an interest in politics four years ago after the presidential election of 2008.  She became a member of Generation Joshua, an organization devoted to teaching youth about the political process and encouraging them to become leaders, and is now vice president of her local club.

       Generation Joshua sponsors Benjamin Rush scholarships to encourage members to get involved in politics and their local communities. To fulfill some of the service requirements, Judah opened up her home for meet-and-greets with area candidates. Four years later, she still hosts candidates in her home regularly.

             Judah plans to stay politically active and would like to be a legislative assistant.

What is an issue that you think is most pressing for our country right now and why?

I think mostly it’s the oppression of Christians who are involved or who just want to go to church, and schools teaching evolution. I’ve been most supportive of one of the new laws that says that schools can choose their own curriculum, like whether they want to choose to teach evolution or Christian science.

What would you say to someone who doesn’t think that politics is important?

Politics does affect your life, whether it’s in the grocery store, the food you eat, or in your schools. Government has a hand in almost everything.

Whenever you get up, your time is controlled by the government ’cause of daylight savings or things like that. The government has a hand in what kind of food you can buy from the store, in sales tax, what kind of clothes you wear, what you’re taught in schools. So it is pretty important and you need to get yourself out there and know what the government is doing.

What advice would you give to other kids who want to get politically involved?

The best way to get involved is just to put yourself out there and make yourself known to be someone who would really help even if they’re out of their comfort zone ’cause that really encourages people.

 * * * * *

Marcus Demery, 20                                                                    

Indianapolis, IN

            Marcus Demery is a freelance photographer who just returned from spending seven months with Occupy Chicago. Not only did he share the same passion for change with the crew there, he also got a chance to perfect his craft.

            Like other Occupiers, Demery believes change needs to come from the grassroots, not from either political party.

            “I am neither Democratic or Republican. I believe that everyone deserves equal rights as citizens living in this free nation. What Occupy has done is empower people and give them back the necessary skills and the necessary qualities that they need in order to work with each other and to create change globally.”

What was your primary responsibility with Occupy Chicago?

Honestly, it was just to take photos. I was working with the Occupy Chicago press committee, the social media committee. I was running the Twitter feed. I was running the Facebook page.

As a photographer, it was my duty to go out to every protest, every business station, every community event, so that way we could document everything that was happening that was a part of Occupy Chicago.

Could you name an event involving Occupy that you felt was especially successful?

Yes, it was the Chicago NATO and G8 summit protest, a grueling, 17-hour, on-the-ground event from the beginning, 7 a.m. to probably maybe 12:00 a.m. the next day. My involvement was simply to be a photographer, to document everything that was happening, to make sure that my partners were safe, to make sure that I could document as much as I could any unethical or illegal things that were happening as far as what the police officers were doing to nonviolent protesters and so forth.

The things that I saw that the Chicago police officers committed were unnecessary, unethical and probably illegal.  However, it was quite successful because of  the community groups, the different groups that were a part of the whole demonstration side of the protest. Everybody worked together and communicated way before [the summit].

If you could pass any piece of legislation, what would it be about?

My first legislation would be about the quality of our education. We have a broken system, and I feel like it is necessary for everybody to have a quality, decent lifestyle if they are to have an equal opportunity to have an affordable education.

* * * * * *

 Mason Garard, 16

Indianapolis, IN

             Apart from his silent support of Barack Obama in 2008, Mason Garard was not involved in politics until two years ago, when his father introduced him to the group No Labels, a bipartisan organization that distributes money and votes to get more moderate candidates elected and to “break the gridlock in Washington and actually get stuff done,” he said.

After two years of doing research and organizing events, Mason is now the Indiana youth coordinator for No Labels as well as the founder of the No Labels club at North Central High School in Indianapolis. He also helped in the effort to re-elect U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, at first deciding just to “drop in” to the office and eventually getting absorbed in campaign, which was unsuccessful.

In the years ahead, Mason hopes to help expand the No Labels movement, raise more money and support for the organization, and keep his grades up. He would eventually like to run for political office.

 Describe the issue that you think is most pressing for our country and why.

 Hyper-partisanship, I believe. I think it incorporates some of the key issues that I think are dividing the country right now, specifically gridlock and money in politics. And of course that’s not exactly helped by the fact that now we have these super-PACs that just donate unlimited amounts of money to a campaign cause and make these situations just worse because nobody has the power to oppose them now.        

If you could pass any piece of legislation, what issue would it be about?

If I had to pass any piece of legislation, it would be the current bill that’s in the House right now, the “No budget, no pay” bill. That’s actually a bill that No Labels supported and came up with as part of their 12 points to make Congress work, and it’s basically what it says: If Congress does not pass a budget, then there’s no pay, then the congressmen don’t get paid.

According to researchers, youth voter turnout increased from 2004 to 2008; however, fewer youth are expected to turn out for this year’s election. Why do you think that is?

I think that from what I’ve seen at North Central, people have become more disillusioned with the government. I think that it all leads back to the conflict in Washington. Lack of compromise leads to lack of anything getting done. Lack of anything getting done leads to a negative view of politicians. And a negative view of the politicians by the youth leads to lack of voter turnout.  I think it’s as simple as that.



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