Two weeks after starting demonstrations in downtown Wichita, Occupy Wichita members say their ranks are growing and they don't plan to go away.
And, unlike protesters in a few larger cities, they aren't getting arrested.
From 30 to 60 protesters have been gathering daily at 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays at noon in Chester I. Lewis Reflection Square Park on Douglas, just east of Market. They wave signs at passing traffic, denouncing what they consider to be corporate greed and government corruption that works against the interests of 99 percent of Americans.
Another protest is planned for today.
The effort in Wichita is based on the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City, which started in September.
Arrests have been made in New York, Denver and Seattle, but none in Wichita.
"The demonstrations here have been peaceful, and we've had good cooperation from people who are partaking of these protests," said Deputy Police Chief Tom Stolz.
"Our philosophy is, people have a right to peacefully protest whatever they want. As far as there is no violence, or no criminal violation, police will keep a low profile," he said.
Occupy Wichita has gained support from the Wichita/Hutchinson Labor Federation and Service Employees International Union Local 513, which represents public employees.
"They have a number of different issues and concerns," said SEIU business representative Harold Schlechtweg, "but I think generally their thrust is their concern over the power of wealth in society and how it's distorted our politics and how it's harmed our economy."
SEIU has been speaking out about that for a long time, he said.
"I just think people are very frustrated," Schlechtweg said.
Protesters say reaction to the movement in Wichita has been mostly positive, although they have had to battle misconceptions.
Michael Shatz, a protester from Haysville, said the only negative reaction he has had came from one "very nice" couple who told him to get a job.
"I told them, 'Well, I have a job,' " Shatz said. "They said, 'Well, you're not going to get rich.' I said I'm fine with that, I'm not looking to get rich."
"They think we want to redistribute the wealth," he said. "No one's out here looking for a handout. That's not what we're doing. We expect our government to act in an ethical manner that reflects the interests of the vast majority of people, rather than a very small powerful set of interest groups. They have a voice, too. We just think that their voice has drowned ours out, and we'd like to be heard."
Protesters hold "General Assembly" meetings daily at 6 p.m. The meetings are open to all, and input is welcome from anybody.
Occupy Wichita has no official leaders and no official spokespersons.
Members interviewed by the media take pains to say that they don't speak for others in the movement.
Charlie Cattlett, of Derby, agreed that the movement is growing in Wichita.
"It's slow moving, but it's a conservative town," he said.