Living near what may potentially become a significant movement in the United States — Occupy Wall Street — I can’t believe I took over three weeks to visit the main site they’re sitting in, especially because a friend told me about the plans in the works several days before it started. That friend ended up interviewed on several national television shows.
I finally visited today. I think the New York Times’s editorial Sunday implied the protesters were serious. Partly I was motivated by some claims by people on discussion boards that the protesters were incoherent, dirty, privileged, and so on. So I visited in person. Here is my post to that other board. I think you can figure out the context from it.
Just got back from my first visit to the park downtown that they’re occupying. I only talked to a few people, for short conversations. One guy stopped me to play chess and I couldn’t resist playing.
The dominant thought I had was that many of what I saw written on signs, placards, and sheet being distributed sounded reasonable and I couldn’t think of other places where these voices were spoken — things like accountability for the banks. I found a lot of coherence in their voices. Much incoherence as well, but Congress has that too.
The next thought I had was that it reminded me of parts of New York I used to see decades ago, before Gap stores came to the East Village. Very refreshing.
People were messy, but I couldn’t find a reason to discount their voices as citizens.
People were playing music and you could hear the drums from all over. Not my taste, but they seemed to like it.
I thought of many posts in the press and on this board dismissing their voices. After visiting the park, I find many of the posts on this thread not credible. I respectfully doubt whether people who spoke to them did so with open minds or came with preconceived notions that they sought to reconfirm.
My first in-person brush with Occupy Wall Street before this visit came when working on Union Square in Motion a day when the protests moved to Union Square. A friend and I were minding our own business far from anything happening. The police started rounding up everyone on the block in a large orange dragnet, like fish trawling, and a cop told us to get into the net. We told him we had nothing to do with whatever was happening far away. He aggressively bore down on us to get in the net. We complied until he directed his vitriol elsewhere, then slipped out of the net.
That day the police dominated Union Square with officers and vehicles. My taxes will end up paying a lot of their overtime, not to mention the courts for all their arrests that will not likely stand.
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