I wrote and lost track of this story during the holidays, but its message is still relevant. In honor of the Occupy Movement, which will enjoy a resurgence in the Spring of 2012, I share it with you now. I hope you enjoy the brilliant YouTube video created during the OWS Bridge March in New York last Fall.
Last November I was having a conversation with a friend, who was complaining loudly about the Occupy Portland protestors’ having made him late that day. He said he thought what they were doing was a totally ineffectual way to accomplish their goals, so I got him to watch MSNBC with me. We saw “The Ed Show”, “The Rachel Maddow Show” and “The Last Word” with Lawrence O’Donnell.
We listened to the commentators and their guests while we watched the scene unfold in New York, interspersed with film from other cities around the country where protests continued today with more fervor than before. We saw a series of peaceful demonstrations by very large numbers of people. The crowd in NY was estimated to be close to 30,000. The protestors were determined to keep things peaceful, though there was some verbal heat. The violence and aggression came from the heavily-garbed and helmeted police, who looked like storm-troopers from a “Star Wars” movie. It was police who were pushing and shoving and macing the faces of helpless protestors. Check out the video of the march: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_L_7Htvsw-g
What the strong-arm mentality doesn’t get is that every time one of those scenes is replayed, every time the police attempt to break up the demonstrations using force, to intimidate people who are trying to make their voices and their very legitimate concerns heard, even more people are angered, and more sympathizers with OWS are created. The police drove the protesters out of Zucotti Park, and they came back many thousand times’ stronger!
There is the film of the young man with the blood-drenched face in NYC, the picture of the 84-year-old lady in Seattle, viciously maced and in danger of being trampled, who was rescued by the handsome young returning vet. She said that later, as she rode her usual bus home, the other riders asked what had happened to her and she shared her story. They were all angry at the treatment she received. Perhaps when the next march sets out some of them will join the ranks.
Politicians and conservative talk show hosts have tried to characterize protestors as mobs, but when you see Labor Union officials, a NYC Council member and other neighborhood and religious leaders committing civil disobedience and being marched off in handcuffs, it’s hard to maintain that lie. Sometimes I’m so proud of my fellow humans I want to hug them all.
Just before I switched off the news that night, there was a story about a group of 200 Patriotic Millionaires who got together and told Grover Norquist that they wanted to pay more in taxes. They spoke of feeling fortunate and wanting to pay something closer to their fair share so that no new burdens would be heaped on the backs of the poor and the middle class. Surely this is a hopeful sign that the Occupy Movement is having a positive impact on our world!