I hadn’t been paying much attention to the Occupy Wall Street protests or news coverage, but then yesterday I started reading We Are the 99 Percent and I became more curious about the movement. I kept clicking around to different news websites reading about it, and then I thought, “Hey, I work for myself. I have a flexible schedule. Wall Street is less than four miles from my house. I should go check it out in person.” So, I did.
I read that there was going to be a march starting at Foley Square at 4:30. I took my camera and headed in that direction. It was easy to find the main group of protesters by following the sounds of drums and chanting. I wanted to learn more about why so many people had decided to protest, so I wandered around checking out all of the different signs. Here are a few of my favorites:
Eventually, I sort of found my way into the march down to the financial district. It was a fun two hours of slowly walking, snapping photos, and talking with the other participants. Everyone around me was friendly, considerate, and excited to have the opportunity to express themselves. The NYPD were out in full force and I actually thought they were awesome — they were respectful and super-accommodating of the march. (I know there have been arrests and reports of abuse, but what I personally saw yesterday left me impressed with New York City and its ability to facilitate peaceful protests.)
There was an extremely diverse selection of people represented in the 6,000-person crowd — young people, older people, NYU & Columbia students, union workers, college professors, mothers with children, non-profit groups — not to mention a VERY wide variety of causes and interests being expressed. I collected leaflets from Libertarians, Socialists, Anarchists, Communists, and just plain, general revolutionaries. There were Obama supporters, Obama haters, vegans, doctors and nurses, family farmers, LGBTQ activists, and war vets, like the two handsome fellows here…
On the micro level it did all seem a bit disorganized and unfocused, but overall, I really felt like there was a consensus about why they (we) were all there: they wanted to express their frustration with the economic and social injustice in the world. In general, they (don’t we all?) want access to opportunity, a more equal distribution of wealth and prosperity, and most of all, good jobs.
I think that we can all agree that the high unemployment rate is hurting our country. Unfortunately, solving the problem is obviously very difficult and everyone has a different idea of what would work. BUT (here comes my optimistic spin) isn’t it isn’t it amazing that we live in a country where we each have the opportunity to express our ideas and opinions?! Whether it is a Tea Party rally or an Occupy Wall Street march, people are frustrated and they want their voices heard. What an awesome expression of freedom and democracy!
What do I personally think about our economic situation? Hmmmm. There is a lot of info, ideas, and opinions out there… but generally? I believe all people are of value and I think all types of hard work should be respected and rewarded. My goal is to help shape our society to reflect those ideals. We CAN figure out this economic problem and create living wage jobs for everyone willing to work. We can create the America we want. I truly believe that.
Want more info about Occupy Wall Street? Here are a few links:
- #OccupyWallStreet on AdBusters.org
- We are the 99%
- An interesting article about the Occupy Wall Street movement by Douglas Rushkoff on CNN
- @1PercentWallSt on Twitter – a satire account
- The Daily Show’s take on the demonstration
- My Occupy Wall Street Flickr set
What do you think? How can we solve the economic crisis?