Oct 10, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Continues Into the Fourth Week! {with photos from the scene}


Occupy Wall Street, week three going into the forth as more groups and people join in. In addition to the presence in Liberty park and the marches, there's lots of work behind the scenes. For example, today there were several meetings of working groups that facilitate this protest and get the message out. I attended a couple of them. For me the whole thing is a study of how reasonable individuals come together to create a movement. There are advantages of having a "horizontal organization" rather than a vertical one when creating a democratic movement but sometimes coordination and quick responses don't come easy.

I am interested in political movements and how people respond to challenges in a modern, highly institutionalized country. Obviously, there's a need for reform. Many Americans are hurting and see that the system delivers the most for the very few. 

I often talk about the importance of the narrative--the story we (a society) tell ourselves. Unfortunately, we suffer from a "plantation mentality" as Bill Moyers has put it. In a plantation it was the master who wrote the history and commanded the narrative. The media have been playing along, not serving the public good. I don't know if "the bargain" the conservatives especially have sold to the underprivileged is so powerful that the latter willingly vote against their own economic interests.  I said the same to some tv newsperson the other day: we must destroy the conservative narrative that the status quo is working for the working people.

This is a great video, short and to the point. Anyone (well, except the known suspects) can relate to the people who appear in this video. 

The NYC police are guarding the Stock Exchange on Wall Street, but right across it, at #23, there's a huge space available to the Occupy Wall Street movement. As you can see from the pictures I took, it's a hub of organizing activities and art depicting this conflict. 

Again, I encourage anyone to visit #23 on Wall Street, Liberty Square (Zuccotti park), and participate in the activities or help in other ways. Donations of all sorts are pouring in, and there are volunteer positions for all things, from the kitchen to the medics to the library, the graphic design, media and internet teams.  It's absolutely safe. Most marches have permits and you don't have to participate in a situation that may lead to an arrest. I understand, many of us have day jobs that can't afford to lose.

Guarding the Stock Exchange

Silk screening t-shirts @ 23 Wall St.

Art exhibit @ 23 Wall

Getting ready to spend the night al fresco

Live feed from around the world and peoples' messages expressing solidarity with OWS

Latino groups meeting by the "red weird thing" in the square

The kitchen looked more organized today and with lots more food available as donations are pouring in.
The "library"
Right across the Stock Exchange on Wall St.

Art exhibit.... it's about gambling...

I saw better art there than some stuff at the MOMA

Oct 6, 2011

My Reasons for Protesting at Occupy Wall Street

I've heard from many that this protest doesn't have a concrete demand or a message. Apparently some 50,000+ protesters showed up on Wednesday and the numbers are growing. I think those who dismiss this proto-movement are making a mistake. People are angry, people are suffering, and, most importantly, they express concerns that most Americans share today! This has the potential of spreading like a wild fire.

OK, Wall Street has been a convenient target and a great focus point for people to coalesce, but the demand for a fair, egalitarian, decent system resonates across all groups and individuals who participate in this "occupation" and are hurting. They know others who have been hurt by this economy and by the system we have in place to deal with crises and address the needs of Americans. Something's is terribly wrong all around us.

I was interviewed a couple times while I was there. I didn't have the chance to include all of the following points, as the interviewers were looking for sound bites and I was trying to answer in sentences and paragraphs. So I came up with a few sound bites:

  • It's time to (re)define the American dream--that success depends on access to opportunity.
  • Our government has to be of, by, and for the people. This is a good principle, let's now put it in practice.
  • Like Adam Smith (father of capitalism) said, the wealth of a country shouldn't be measured by the gold the elites hold but by the number of people who are able to share the wealth.
  • Privatizing profits while socializing the risk is bad economics and fundamentally unjust.
  • It's about the vision of the future and the direction of our country. It's about science and the scientific method. It's about modernity versus anachronism.
  • It's about education--the kind of enrichment we all benefit from!
  • It's about asking why aren't we "number one"? Why aren't we healthier, aren't living longer, and aren't more educated as a country? Why do we work more and earn less? Why we are less safe and so much more stressed? Where's the social safety net a modern society should have?
  • It's about defeating the conservative narrative that the status quo is working for the working people.
  • It's about our country turning into a plutocracy, whereas the system increasingly benefits the elites, who have closed the doors on the rest of us. They're denying us access to education, health care, clean environment, good jobs, and even to our own government.

Update, 10/08/11:

 Here's a source for the OWS groups and activities: Map & Connect Groups


Who's complaining?

Some politicians get 12% of the eligible voters [yeah, if only 20% of the electorate bothers to vote, that's what those leaders actually get] in a given election and they come out to say "the American people spoke"...  

When 50,000+ people show up to protest, they're labeled as a mob, or fringe elements, and un-Americans! The mayor of our city, incredibly said that the salaries of the city workers are partly paid by Wall Street. So what? He should have said that Wall Street should actually pay more, and that Wall Street or any economic system that benefits the rich shouldn't be given the keys to our society.

Republican leader Cantor called the protesters a "mob." Romney said "it's class warfare!"  Tsk. What war? The one the upper class has already won?...
On the other hand, there are still many Americans who believe that they can, too, be part of the elite. The game is fixed. Who can be like Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs, or Bill Gates? Talent alone without access to opportunity ain't gonna allow you to join the gilded club.

Meanwhile in Alabama...

Can't have water if you can't prove your residency in Alabama! Now the Water Co. is a depository of IDs.


[to be continued...]

Oct 3, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Movement Still Going Strong [topic frequently updated]

View of Liberty Square, 10/2/11.

Occupy Wall Street web site

I'm guessing that Fox won't air this interview.
The "kitchen"
The media center

The "message plaza"

After a couple weeks, this movement is not fading. As more and more people find out about and venture to Liberty square in NYC, this leaderless mass of ordinary Americans are making waves. Still, it's a small movement in comparison to "uprisings" in other countries, but I think it has managed to raise some important questions: What is the role of government? and, What is the Mission Statement of our civil society?

Civil disobedience--and in this case rather non-violent actions--is one way for the people to "petition" their government when they believe their social contract is being violated.

Here's a video from the march on the Brooklyn bridge. Perhaps the police told those in front of the march that they weren't allowed on the bridge, but most people, in the thousands, did not know. The police appeared to facilitate this march only to coral the marchers and arrest anywhere from 400 to 700 people. Not nice. Here's the story on PBS/Newshour [link]


I know many people who are sympathetic to the demands of the protesters but are afraid to participate, however, let me assure you that it's very safe. There are no extremists in charge and no plan for violent action. Most marches, like the one to City Hall (this Wed. @ 4 pm) have legal permits. It's important to maintain this behavior while asking for a re-evaluation of our political/economic system and the role of our government. More people should participate because a critical mass is fundamental in creating a movement.

If you have the time, drop by Liberty square (between Broadway & Trinity, on Liberty St.). If you decide to participate or stick around for a few hours, there's free food & beverages. There's lots of material support by ordinary citizens, from food to printing, to all necessary goods and services. This is not a fringe protest. See it for yourself.

Occupy Boston.... It's Spreading
This video is great as it shows all sorts of common people who are participating in these events asking for change. There's a lot of hurt out there and more and more Americans are realizing that there's something seriously wrong with how we allocate our resources, who benefits, who pays, and where our country is headed to...

[to be continued.... with frequent updates, some of them in the main body of the post, like the video of the Fox interview below the first picture above.]