Occupy Miami targets art school owned in part by Goldman Sachs

MIAMI — A small but boisterous crowd of Occupy Miami activists stood in front of an open house at the Miami International Art Institute Saturday to protest what they called unfair student loan and recruitment practices by the school’s parent company, the Education Management Corp., which is partly owned by the financial firm Goldman Sachs.

“We’re here to shut down this down, end this,” said Kevin Young, a 27-year-old protester from Midtown Miami. “We don’t believe any of us should be slaves to Goldman.”

Education Management runs a variety of schools, including the Art Institute, Argosy University, and Brown Mackie College. It is being sued by former employees for allegedly violating the federal government’s ban on paying commission to recruiters to enroll students.

The U.S. Justice Department has joined in the suit, followed by attorneys general in California, Illinois and, most recently, Florida.

Company officials have denied the suit’s allegations.

More than 50 protesters were at Saturday’s rally. Most were students from area colleges, including Miami-Dade College, Florida International University and the University of Miami. It began outside the art institute and then moved to Downtown Miami’s Bayfront Park later in the afternoon.

Occupy Miami is an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations that began in September in Manhattan. The local movement had its first large protest on Oct. 17. Local organizer Muhammed Malk said the group plans its next large protest on Nov. 17 at José Martí Park.