You don't have to be present to 'Occupy' - Tucson News Now

You don't have to be present to 'Occupy'

Users can enter a custom message and the phone numbers of a friend or family member, and then use the app if they think they will be arrested. (Source: RNN) Users can enter a custom message and the phone numbers of a friend or family member, and then use the app if they think they will be arrested. (Source: RNN)

NEW YORK (RNN) - Not everyone who has answered the drum-beating call of the 99% has picked up a sign and hit the streets to protest with the 'Occupy' movement. Some have made their stands by donating their talents to assist the protestors.

Software developer Jason Van Anden strongly believes in the Occupy movement, but between  juggling projects for his company, Quadrant 2, and being a father to his 2-year-old daughter, it would be difficult for him to camp out in a park and protest.

That's why he developed the ‘I'm Getting Arrested' smartphone app, which allows protesters to alert their friends, family or lawyer that the men in blue are closing in with pepper spray, batons and handcuffs.

I'm Getting Arrested

The app has been well received by both the Occupiers and from protesters world-wide who have submitted requests for him to add more languages - which is now Van Anden's top priority.

Other enhancements to the protester-friendly app are in the works, including a location alert to be sent to a user's contact as a second text. Also being considered is the ability to send request through the internet. The request came from a user in Egypt where SMS messages can be monitored by the government.

The app is available for Android smartphones at the Android Market. The iPhone app is currently in the approval phase and should be available from the iTunes store in the near future.

Van Anden developed the app after a friend's girlfriend had a run-in with police while protesting in New York City.

On Oct. 5, his friend and fellow developer, Sam Zimmerman, received a text from his girlfriend, Jeanne Angel, saying police were surrounding her and a group of protesters with orange nets, and she thought her arrest was imminent.

Although she was not arrested, that text gave Van Anden an idea.

"It would be really useful in that situation to fire off a message to let someone know," Van Anden recalled.

Three days later, the app hit the Android Market. The app is simple and contains few bells and whistles.

"I wrote the app quickly to be purposeful for the protesters quickly," Van Anden said.

The app is essentially a full-screen red and white striped target that, when pressed for 2 seconds, sends a custom text message to a set of phone numbers each user inputs. A notification then tells the user his or her message has been sent.

The app also reminds the arrestee to be polite to the arresting officer.

In the information age, you no longer need to be present to protest.

Hundreds of people like Van Anden, have found ways to support the movement using their special skill sets. Some have even organized into groups.

Designers have banned together forming a group Occupy Design. According to the group's site, their goal is to create free graphics to improve communication to unite the 99%.

Another group, Occupy Writers gives an outlet for original works by writers documenting the experiences of those involved with the Occupy movement.

Now, more than a month after the Occupy movement began, the movement is inspiring more than unemployed hippies, as some have said. It now reaches the hipsters, artists and writers, a few celebrities, and those with a pretty solid future, but who identify with the cause anyway.

"We have this cycle going around that is inspiring people to speak out," Van Anden said. "Votes should be more powerful than money."


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