Occupy Movement Moves To Ronkonkoma

Nonprofit organization sets up shop as community center, activism HQ.

From his desk near the front window of the new storefront rented by the "Occupy" movement, Jay Ugenti reads the declaration first drafted at Zucotti park in lower Manhattan back in September of 2011. The document, entitled "The Declaration of the Occupation of New York City," is a laundry list of grievances, mostly aimed at corporations and the politicians they influence.

"They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay or safer working conditions," Ugenti reads from the document. "They have consistenly outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers' healthcare and pay..."

The Occupy movement has spread to cities and suburbs across the country including Long Island. Now, Occupy protesters have launched "Occupy Storefront," a brick and mortar meeting place for direct action protests, job fairs, veteran services and fund-raising art shows. The storefront, located on Railroad Avenue diagonal from the Ronkonkoma LIRR station, opened in June. The office is run by volunteers, like Ugenti, an electrician by trade, and Jason Sullivan, a union roofer and journalism student who acts as Occupy Storefront's communications liason. The rent is paid through donations. The leaseholder is "Occupy Storefront," a registered nonprofit organization.

Though married philosophically to the Occupy Wall Street protests, both Ugenti and Sullivan say the Ronkonkoma storefront will operate on a number of platforms centered on helping the community and its members.

"It’s very important to us that we promote community business as well as community outreach," Sullivan says. "We’re also very passionate about jobs for veterans. Because the unemployment rate as well as the homelessness of veterans is astronomical."

"People can wrap their heads around a storefront," Ugenti says, "It’s a community center; the door is open for people to come in at any time. It’s a more structured approach because we do have a phone number, there’s an actual physical address that people can contact."

Politically, the Occupy movement in general has been labeled liberal, or left-wing, however, according to Ugenti, the issues they support attracts both sides of the political spectrum.

"Our main mantra was ‘we are the ninety-nine percent.’ So as far as I’m concerned, if you’re not one of them [the 1%] you’re one of us." Ugenti says his focus in the political arena is to get the Citizens United Supreme Court Ruling that allowed corporations to supply unlimited funds to stump for specific candidates overturned.

As far as direct action, Occupy Storefront intends to provide a rendevous point and bus launch site for protesters planning to camp out in front of the Southampton home of Julia and David Koch this coming Sunday, July 8. The Kochs are wealthy supporters of Republican policies and will be holding a $50,000 per plate fundraiser for likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on that day. Southampton Patch will be on the site to cover that protest.


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Sullivan says the often-heard criticism he hears from people about the Occupy movement is caused by complacency.

"People are so comfortable in this system and this institution that we have, even though it’s wrong and it’s not for them, that they’ll fight to keep it because they think in their minds that it’s good for them," Sullivan says. "The mentality I get from the union guys that are opposed to [the movement] is ‘go to work and shut up.’ How do I go to work and shut up? When I see so much going on? I can't shut up."

Common sense July 07, 2012 at 04:30 AM
Instead of using their funding to promote discord and controversy, why don't they start businesses and employ some of the 99% they claim to be advocating for? Then they can pay their employees top wages and provide top level benefits. Sure the cost of the goods and or services they'll provide will be more expensive, but surely, the other 99%ers won't mind paying the higher cost for the sake of honoring the "NOBILITY" of the cause. If enough of the 99% pay the higher prices, all the evil 1%ers will have to close their businesses.
Common sense July 07, 2012 at 04:41 AM
By the way, I'm not in the 1%, but don't you dare proclaim that by default I'm in the tank with the 99%. Mathematically, it may be a true statement, but the "99%" label represents an ideology and social philosophy that I am diametrically opposed to. Of those I dialog with, your 99% (meaning those with like-minded ideas) is more like a disgruntled 35%!
Jay Dawgz July 07, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Right now we are focusing on finding good middle class jobs for veterans if you have any questions come in and ask.
King ST July 07, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Some of the comments above make me sick. This group of community oriented people are out there trying to make positive changes in the community. I know for fact their first order of business was to enact an outreach program to help aquire work and shelter for homeless/needy veterans. Can any of you make that same statement? I doubt it.
Deborah Slinkosky July 07, 2012 at 03:53 PM
It's refreshing to see our youth exercising their 1st Amendment rights. Doesn't anyone remember history? It's been movements like these that have helped the middle class rise. I applaude their efforts!
Charlotte D'Aiuto July 07, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Any positive move forward to help the community is a plus, even if you don't agree with the process. If "Occupy" can find job placement for a few people it is still beneficial. Small steps in a big direction will still get you there. It is called helping your fellow man.
Worlds Gym July 07, 2012 at 05:58 PM
If They are trying to locate jobs for Veterans that would be a noble cause. Does Thier organization have a website? And how can they help the fam,ilies of military veterans or those currently serving?
Kevin Ryan July 07, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Jay Dawgz July 07, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Thanks Deborah feel free to stop in or call with any local issues that may come up. Jason U 631-681-7479
Jay Dawgz July 07, 2012 at 09:48 PM
We meet every wensday night at 6pm-8pm to discuss how we can progress on this issue. If you would like to help support families of those currently surving I will do anything possible to help you do that, stop on in.
Jay Dawgz July 07, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Resident. This is a office there is no controversy to worry about we are there to benifit the local area give me a call and I would be happy to help you with any issue. Jason 631-648 8811
Jay Dawgz July 07, 2012 at 09:52 PM
I am looking into the possiblity of us supporting and subsidizing a local shop moving in next to us. Also, we try and support and work with the existing shops in the area. give me a call if you have and sugestions 1631 648 8811
Denis Byrne July 07, 2012 at 11:20 PM
I don't think they should need a special permit to rent an office like anyone else has the right to do. What is everybody afraid of? These people are trying to make some positive changes, maybe a few mistakes will be made along the way, but just let them do their thing and hope for some good to come of all this.
Shana Braff July 08, 2012 at 02:18 AM
I'm proud of my good friend Jay Ugenti for fearlessly standing up for what he believes in and putting so much time and effort into "being the change he wishes to see in the world" to paraphrase Gandhi, the grandfather of nonviolent protest movements. You may not believe in the same ideology as these men and women pioneering the Occupy Storefront, but I think we can all agree that dedication like this that comes from the heart is commendable. I'm glad Patch is helping to give them some coverage!
Joe Negrelli July 08, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Everyone has a right to participate in constitutionally protected free speech. Supporting free speech means supporting the right of people you do not agree withs right to be heard. Its called freedom. They have the right to rent a storefront if they choose to and the landlord has a right to rent to whoever he chooses. I am glad whenever I see anyone from anywhere on the political spectrum exercising 1st amendment rights. It is one of the reasons we are supposedly a free country.
KO July 09, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Send them back to Manhattan or where ever they come from. Get a job guys.
Jan Williams July 11, 2012 at 01:26 AM
Make that more like 5%.
Savage-FCPK July 11, 2012 at 05:06 PM
It is a sad time we live in when Americans say "t's refreshing to see our youth exercising their 1st Amendment rights.Doesn't anyone remember history? It's been movements like these that have helped the middle class rise." - REALLY It also helped all of the worst murdering dictators of the world gain power, or did we all forget our history? These people are Communists, plain and simple! com•mu•nism The political theory or system in which all property and wealth is owned in a classless society by all the members of that society. a. A system of government in which the government controls the economy and a single, often authoritarian party holds power, claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people. b. The Marxist-Leninist version of Communist doctrine that advocates the overthrow of capitalism by the revolution of the proletariat. !!!!!! Wake up people !!!!!!!!!!!
Savage-FCPK July 11, 2012 at 05:41 PM
You have some nerve trying to compare "Gandhi" to the Violent "peace movement" called Occupy Wall street. To make my point here are a few sponsors of OWS: Communist Party USA American Nazi Party Louis Farrakhan, Nation of Islam David Duke Black Panthers Socialist Party USA Hezbollah International Socialist Organization just to name a few.
Jay Dawgz July 13, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Come on in Savage I like talking with informed americans. Im sure you would be into our end corporate personhood meetings on wensday night.
Jay Dawgz July 13, 2012 at 02:34 AM
We are all from the local area and have middle class jobs. But im not really concerned with my own well being im trying to get jobs for needy veterans.
Alicia Palifka July 26, 2012 at 08:41 PM
@Jay Dawgz..Tell me please..who is paying for this storefront to be leased.....
Jay Dawgz October 21, 2012 at 03:22 PM
@SasshaK We are fully self supporting
Mark Angelo February 04, 2013 at 09:58 PM
I have not read all the posts here but it seems a shame that local residents are having an issue with this. They are not protesting on Johnson avenue for cry eye. It is merely a touchstone for people who are interested in getting involved. The protests will happen at the appropriate places. Also Ronkonkoma is a mostly blue collar area. These locals should be thanking the Occupy movement for having the guts and the gumption to stand up for the 99% including blue collar ronkonkoma. Also the train station storefronts are happy to have ANY rent paying customers "occupy" there stores in this economy. I for one welcome the store and the movement.
Mark Angelo February 04, 2013 at 11:03 PM
You are confused dude!
Yurmama February 05, 2013 at 01:26 PM
These 2 guys look like thugs. Why are they already bald at such a young age? Also looks like they just smoked a blunt. I would raid that place for drugs if I was a cop.
Yurmama February 05, 2013 at 01:28 PM
Ever heard of smiling for a free publicity pic?
Yurmama February 05, 2013 at 01:32 PM
How do you make money to support sitting around in an empty office all day? Pay the rent? Their parents must be part of the 1% percent
Yurmama February 09, 2013 at 03:03 PM
Can someone please help these Americans spell correctly? It's Wednesday, not wensday. What a shame...can't even spell but thinks he is going to help others
Yurmama February 09, 2013 at 03:04 PM
When do they fit wensday into the week? Is that before Wednesday and after Tuesday?


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