Occupy Wall Street 10/5/11 March on City Hall

I got into a definite disagreement with several of my Facebook friends today about this Occupy Wall Street fracas going on downtown. I maintained that I didn’t see why they were doing this, that their demands were too sweeping and all encompassing (and came with their own separate set of hindrances) and that I just didn’t understand the message. Many of my friends disagreed.

Now let me be clear; I am no conservative, republican, or any political affiliation really. If anything I’d say I’m more libertarian than anything; I want little government, self reliance, and stay the heck out of my business. I lived for an early part of my life in the Great State of New Hampshire; some of that “Live free or die” ethos must have rubbed off on me.

Regardless, there were some heated words being exchanged. From my friend Jen: “The message is important, Jesse. I don’t know what you have against these people. Of course they work in shifts – the protest is 24/7 I just don’t understand why you take such offense to this. I really don’t. You’ve got your head in the sand. You’re in NYC, why not go to liberty square and see what’s going on. Talk to the people and get the real story – not the one you see on Fox, CNN, etc… Do some real research”

Not only did I take huge offense that I would watch ANY cable news network like CNN or FOX (or MSNBC); I thought that this thing has been going on long enough; it’s time I got the real story.

Today Occupy Wall Street was not at Zuccotti Park where they have set up camp; they were protesting at City Hall. Because they were marching and chanting and rallying with one another; I could not really get the level of interaction I would have liked. But I did get a few nods.

One guy holding a “Green Party NYC” banner was in a quiet pocket of the marchers.

“What is the Green Party here for?” I asked the man.

“What are we here for?” the man replied.

“Yeah,” I said.

He paused; then snorted and said:

“The same thing that everyone else is here for.” And he walked on.

There was a call and response going at several points throughout the mob of people. One person through a megaphone would command, “Show me what Democracy looks like,” to which the crowd would emphatically reply “This is what Democracy looks like.”

At other points there were groups chanting “We are the 99%”

Some of the signs in this mob were pretty interesting: “Stop raping your people,” “What’s in your wallet?” “Long live the spirit of Madison,” “Tax Millionaires,” “Institutional Greed Must GO,” “Stop Republicans attacks on Americas Worker.” And on and on it went.

I will say that from the standpoint of an onlooker it was very powerful to see all these people in one place; assembled together to stand united in protest. While the united in protest thing is interesting, all the divergent goals of the protesters is the problem. If they are all here for different reasons, how will they know when they’ve achieved their aims? Green Party NYC didn’t seem to have any idea. The signs are all for different things. And that’s a problem. Many of the signs were about “greed” but what the heck does that mean? Are only Republicans greedy? Are only corporations?

Some of the other signs were as specific as “Thanks Union MTA Bus Drivers for not corralling protesters into the OVENS” to something as broad as “Abolish Capitalism Fight for Jobs Now” with a picture of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara.

What are you fighting for Occupy Wall Street? Who are you fighting?

I was able to talk to some periphery officers who were standing around watching this with weary eyes.

“How long do you think this will go on,” I asked.

“I have no idea,” said one.

“As long as they keep things orderly,” intoned another.

That’s the real beauty of this Occupy Wall Street event; at least insofar as I can tell. It seems like what these people are fighting against and the way they are able to fight for it are not so different after all.

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