It is important to remember that the greed and corruption that fueled the collapse of the economy and the middle class, was in part enabled by citizens who were not paying attention, and not taking an active interest in their own political lives and the society in which they live. A lot of damage was done throughout that extended period of complacency. The rise of right-wing fascism is particularly dangerous.
If Occupy Wall Street has one message, it is that those days are over. A sixties-era activist I met in DC said, "My generation fell asleep. We stopped challenging the politicians, and look what happened. You can never do that."
Others from that same generation of activists have wondered where the rage is in this country with all of the severe problems we have facing us, a dysfunctional and corrupt system of government, and incompetent and unwilling leaders.
When would people unite and speak up? When would we stop expecting incompetent, corporate controlled politicians to make things right? Citizens around the world have looked in awe as Americans have just watched the country crumble, wondering if someday people would motivate to fight for their rights again.
Someday finally came- at last.
The following is my personal account of being in New York on November 17th, along with some photos. There are photos of other Occupations I have visited, and attended demonstrations in the past two months. I was inspired by the students in New York City who joined the demonstrations Thursday.
It was amazing being part of the OWS protests in New York this Thursday.
I started out by going to Zuccotti Park where people were gathering for the march uptown. We headed up Broadway toward Union Square, where people gathered again for a while.
Things really got interesting after that. The idea had been to return to the area near Zuccotti Park, at Foley Square, and then eventually continue across the Brooklyn Bridge. When the police blocked certain streets, the massive crowds were too much for them to control, so we ended up literally marching in the middle of traffic (and on the sidewalks) down 6th and 7th Avenues, and on other streets as well.
During the whole time, people on the sides of the streets and from buildings cheered us on- and many joined in by leaving school or work to march with us. I never heard a single negative comment (except when people got into it with the cops). The crowd was estimated by police and media to have been over 34,000 people!
One of my favorite images of the day was a group of ballet dancers who were practicing in front of a large glass window at a studio in SoHo when we passed by. They stopped and cheered for the protesters!
Protesters in wheelchairs and others walking with canes were marching too, which I thought was incredible. People in cars honked their horns in support as helicopters flew overhead.
At Foley Square people reconvened as the crowd grew. I had a bite to eat with someone who had camped with Occupy in the park for 3 weeks, and a professor from CUNY who walked out of class with her students to join the protests. The energy of the whole thing was unbelievable.
I continued on across the Brooklyn Bridge. A huge light show was being projected onto the side of the Verizon Building with Occupy messages (like "We are the 99%"), which was really cool. There are videos of it online.
I have seen different things about it in mainstream news, but I never expect too much these days. I know how great it felt to be there for sure and that the movement is building.
BBC, RT, NPR, Rolling Stone, and Democracy Now, have done a good job of reporting on it.
|Trickle-Down Theory Did Not Work: Support OWS!|
|This guy is cool.|
|Passing "Skank of America"|
|This sign pretty much speaks for itself, and is right on.|
|Student Debt IS a national threat!|
|Ballet dancers in SoHo supporting the march.|
|People from apartments, stores and offices cheer on the protests. Enough join in that the crowd swells to almost 34,000.|
|Police and protesters move past the notorious debt-machine, NYU. Many NYU students joined us.|
|Bail Out Student Loan$!|
|Whose Homeland? Whose security? Good question.|