Jason Cherkis and Sara Kenigsberg at Huffington Post have launched a brilliant new series, Occupy Y'all Street, that takes a look at Southern Occupy cities that are not being covered much by the mainstream media. The first episode takes a look at occupiers in Gainesville, Fla.
The video highlights the stories of Ed Speanburgh and his girlfriend and of a restaurant owner named Maya. Speanburgh's story is heart-wrenching:
"I watched a lot of good district managers get cut before me," he says. "I watched a lot of sales people get cut before me. And I watched 500 electricians go out of work. And watched 1,300 welders go out of work. What do you do at that point when you can't make any money? I watched them lose their homes. I watched them lose their cars. I watched them lose their families, their wives, their marriages broke apart, their kids taken away -- everything. And I didn't know what to think. I knew something was wrong."
In August 2009, Speanburgh was laid off. He came back to a Gainesville neighborhood that had been hit by the recession. "I noticed that over 200 units in here were up for sale on the same day," he recalls. "It was like, 'Holy [sh*t]. This is hittin' close to home.'"
A job painting for the Veterans Affairs saved Speanburgh. But even that job ended. In the two years since, he has used up his unemployment benefits, and his $6,000 in savings. He sold his kayaks and his painting equipment.
Speanburgh and his girlfriend have started sleeping at Occupy Gainesville three nights a week.
Speanburgh is a perfect example of the reason that the Occupy movement exists. He was someone who played by the rules, did the right things, worked hard and still couldn't make it. The 1 percent have created an economy that creates too many people in Speanburgh's situation.