COLUMBIA - Volunteers from various "Occupy" movements across Missouri will meet in Columbia from Friday through the weekend for the first annual "Show Me Where You Stand" conference and occupation.
The event will combine Occupy's open meeting structure with more traditional educational training.
Occupy Columbia protester Mike Diel said the conference is to discuss corporate control of the government. "It's a variety of topics like unfair laws or practices that benefit shareholders statewide. It all stems back to the same thing: the one percent controlling the government for their own profit," Diel said.
A leader for the Occupy Missouri movement said the goal of the conference is to figure out how to work for better conditions in Missouri and nationwide.
On Saturday morning, Occupy Missouri will participate in a march in Columbia.
"It's a long march but we won't spend most of the time marching. Most of the time that's going to be spent is at different stations along the path discussing different issues," said Occupy protester Spencer Vyrostek.
The march will last around seven hours. Major topics will be discussed including nuclear energy and the media's role in government.
Vyrostek says the word "Occupy" has a bad connotation to it.
"The biggest misconception is people looking for a handout, about us feeling entitled to something, like other people's money. That's not what the issue is at all. It's not that we feel entitled to their money, we don't feel they should be entitled to ours," said Vyrostek.
Vyrostek says he hopes the conference will make a difference. The conference is open to the public.
"It's to educate and inform people on two different fronts. We want to educate them about some of the issues that we see going on in the world today, like nuclear power and drones, etc.," said Vyrostek.
One protester said the conference is about more than a protest.
"It's not just so much about us protesting today, it is partly that, but it's mostly that we are getting together so we can talk strategy and talk about what the future of occupy Missouri is going to be," said Midgel Potts.