Today, my support of Occupy Wall Street took a new form.
I’ve supported the movement from its inception, two months ago. Even though I was in France, I kept up with the events on Twitter and through the news. I brought it up (probably a little bit too much) in my French classes. My Twitter account brought me the news that Occupy Oakland was under attack the night of October 25, and I watched in horror as the police department fired tear gas and flash grenades into the crowd. I was moved to tears watching the protesters try to pull Scott Olsen (an Iraq veteran who was injured by a tear gas canister) to safety, only to have another stun grenade thrown into their midst.
A mixture of anger, shame, pride, and sadness merged with a desire to do something. I challenge anyone who disagrees with Occupy Wall Street to watch the videos from that night and the other coordinated police actions across the US and across the world, and not feel something. I wouldn’t deign to suggest what you should feel, but you must feel something. If you don’t, something isn’t right.
Today I took the advice of Dorli Rainey, the 84-year-old activist who took a faceful of pepper spray at Occupy Seattle on Tuesday night…”Whatever you do, take one more step out of your comfort zone.”
I joined the protests in person. I was nervous. I’ve never protested before. I was alone. I had my purse with all the money I currently have to my name ($30) in it, and my camera. I am female, and I worried that maybe someone would hassle me. I’m not going to lie, the violence over the past few weeks and the potential to be caught up in a riot were deterrents. I drove around Civic Center Park to check it out, looking for protesters and police. At first, all I saw were police cars. Everywhere. I was intimidated. I hid my sign in my purse and walked through the park, prepared to leave if I didn’t think I could go through with it.
But I walked up to the steps of the City and County Building, about thirty people were gathered. They used the People’s Mic to spread the word about their ideas, grievances, hopes, and stories. The crowd grew, and the more vocal and annoying protesters were calmed by the group.
Then we left to march into the streets.
The police pulled into the intersection, lights blaring. I was emboldened by the hundred people who had showed up in the half hour we had been at the step, but I worried that a confrontation might break out. We walked directly through the intersections, under the carving on the side of a building declaring, “What is the city, but the People?” The police followed us on bikes and with squad cars, blocking off the streets to prevent us from getting leveled by lunch hour traffic. That was actually pretty nice of them.
I felt apprehensive to walk in the streets, through traffic and scared-looking people trying to get to Chili’s for a lunch meeting. One step further, Coleen. Come on. I stepped off the sidewalk and onto the curb. People in the cars were responding with smiles and honks to my sign, “Injustice ANYWHERE is a threat to justice EVERYWHERE.”-Martin Luther King Jr.
We turned onto the 16th Street Mall, marching directly down the middle and stopping traffic. Our shouting bounced off the buildings and people moved out of the way, taking pictures, sometimes cheering. Everyone was on their lunch break. The Mall Ride busses were forced to stop in their tracks, a hundred of us blocking their way.
I still felt nervous, but I was beginning to get stronger. There was a giddy, light, happy feeling to taking the streets. I felt proud of us, connected, and proud that I live in a country that (at least for the moment) allows peaceful protest.
A woman in front of me leaned over to a police officer.
“Feeding the hungry is not a crime! Not a crime…” she said, walking away.
“Your ass is a crime,” the officer joked to his colleagues, obviously thinking that no one was listening.
“Dude, really?” I rounded on him, my best “shame on you” teacher voice and expression confronted with a doughy, and rather surprised-looking young officer. “That was totally inappropriate.” He seemed frozen. I made a noise of disgust and kept walking.
Um, holy shit. Did I just scold a uniformed police officer? One step further. The nerves were gone.
By the time we reached the Federal Reserve Building, I felt liberated. That sounds cheesy and contrived, but it’s true. I was no longer quiet. I felt connected to the people around me, the hippies with dreads and guitars, the kids in business suits, the parents with their babies in strollers, the people walking their dogs amongst us, hell…even the giant transvestite in leopard print. We all had different reasons for being there. We all had different ideas. But we shared the megaphone. We clapped and cheered. We respected the stories. We even cracked jokes and laughed together.
Sharing, playing, dancing, singing, learning. It was kind of like kindergarten, but all grown up. That gives me hope.
We walked back through the mall and up 17th street, through the financial district of Denver. People came out of the bank buildings, making videos on their phones. They leaned out of offices and apartment buildings. I smiled to them and waved. Hardly anyone waved back. Again, our chants bounced off the cold glass.
“We are…Occupy Denver!” “We are…Occupy Detroit!” “We are…Occupy New York!” “We are…Occupy Melbourne!” “We are…Occupy Oakland!” “We are…Occupy Seattle!” “We are…Occupy Cal!” “We are…Occupy Everywhere! And we aren’t going anywhere!”
We walked through one of the largest intersections in Denver at Colfax and Broadway, to loud cheers and honking from the cars stopped by our progress. The gold of the Capitol Building shone in the sun as we marched across the park, and back to the City and County Building. We addressed Mayor Hancock directly, and I could see people watching from inside. We filed the paperwork necessary to begin recalling him from office following the violent crackdown on protestors in Denver.
Very rarely have I felt the sense of community that I felt today with complete strangers at Occupy Denver. They were so welcoming. They all watched out for each other. They all shared and were respectful, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or age (which unfortunately could not be said for that dummy officer who made the ass comment). There was a pervasive sense of collective goodwill, and the desire to work together to change things.
We didn’t always agree. We certainly didn’t speak with only one voice, even through the People’s Mic. We chose to act together, in unity as individuals drawn together by a least a bit of common ground. I felt empowered.
It was amazing!!
After we announced our recall of Mayor Hancock and the City and County building shut its doors in our face, I walked away. It was time for this occupier to go to her new job. I slipped away, drawing a few snarky laughs as I walked back to my car. I didn’t care. I walked down the middle of Broadway armed with nothing but a piece of posterboard and a camera. Laughing doesn’t phase me.
But this did.
Two blocks from the City and County Building, I walked past this staging area for the Denver PD riot squad. As I came around the corner, one of them was messing around with a pepper ball gun, and practicing aiming it. For just an instant, it looked like it was aimed at me. My blood went cold.
I was nervous again. I no longer had a hundred fellows around me for support. One step further.
I took their picture. Several times. In the open. I rationalized, “I’m near the art museum. I could pretend to be a tourist if they have a problem.” I tweeted to Occupy Denver the intersection, and within minutes another protester had arrived. The police looked over at me. I calmly turned and walked away.
This is not over. It doesn’t matter what your political beliefs are. This is not about politics. I learned today that the Occupy movement is incredibly welcoming. They accept people as they are, and are happy to have healthy debate. They encourage others to join in. Just check it out for yourself. Take one step further than your worries, your nerves, or your fear. Go see it for yourself! You are welcome anytime!
Get off your couches! Democracy is not a spectator sport!
115 thoughts on “Off the Couch and Into the Streets”
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Found this blog through the almighty Twitter. I kinda intended on just reading the first paragraph and viewing a few pics…but now I’m all the way down here. Amazing read, and thank you for sharing your story! Tales such as this keep me interested in and supportive of #OWS. I don’t think it’s as much the cause (though it *is* the cause) as it is the reactions by our “civil” courts and officers. This would have fizzled out a long while back, I feel, if it wasn’t for the fact that the very injustices that we protest are being brought out in the form of police corruption and the like. It’s like telling a child “You just like to argue” and the child keeps saying “Nuh uh!”. Wow…I just likened our government to a child. Who knew? But again, great read! I hope you continue to share your insights on the movement. 🙂
I love your work! So powerful, posted something on same topic http://starintheeast.wordpress.com/2011/11/18/the-child-thats-got-his-own/
Powerful post. Thanks so much for sharing your expereince–the power of people united!
I only planned on looking at the pictures, but I was swept away by the vivid recounting of your incredibly epic day.
People like you give me hope. 🙂
What were you hoping to accomplish by this? Were you hoping that somehow, by stopping traffic and buses from getting to where they actually did need to be, you would somehow make a difference in… What?
What you experienced was a herd mentality; what if a riot had broken out? Would you have joined?
“Occupying” any place isn’t the way to solve a problem.
I think that I showed how my experience was my own, individual, and governed by my own principles. I mentioned a worry that a riot might break out, alongside my worry that the police might take action against us. If that had happened, I would probably have turned tail like a chicken and left.
The point of occupying the streets is to show that they belong to the People. The point of stopping busses is to show that they cannot run without the People. The point of walking by the Federal Reserve and up 17th street is to remind those working for big banks that the People are pissed off at the systematic misuse of their money. Largely symbolic? Yes. Pointless? Certainly not.
A major criticism of the Occupy movement is that it’s a “herd mentality” or that people are just joining because all the cool kids are doing it. I did not see that at all yesterday. Everyone came from a different background. Everyone was of a different age. Everyone had different reasons. We disagreed on a lot of things, even down to how fast to walk during the march. The great part about it is that people could decide to participate or leave at any time. They could voice opinions, even unpopular ones, and see what each individual thought.
But I’m wasting my time trying to convince you from my couch. I suggest that you get off yours, go down to your local Occupy movement, and just observe in person. Don’t trust the media to give you an account. Don’t trust youtube. Hell, don’t even trust me.
Go see it with your own eyes, and withhold judgement until then.
thank you for so nicely finding the right words and diplomacy that were out of my reach
If and when you all take this to the White House and kick out the trash, this will turn into MILLIONS.
I enjoyed reading your post, but your responses/comebacks in the comments have been just as compelling. 🙂 I always find it difficult to know what to say when people challenge these ideas in ways that occasionally seem totally ludicrous. This kind of challenge is (probably) necessary and thought-provoking, but it can still be frustrating…. I’m a freshman in high school, and I don’t know much about politics, so it’s always good to find an online source that addresses some of the issues surrounding current events in a way that makes sense (to me). This is the only account I’ve found so far that answers many of my questions about OWS so clearly, so thanks for that!
I read ur post bro rather hysterical… is it not herd mentality which is forcing u to conform? not the other way round these folks are protesting against what they percieve as wrong. As regards the difference..UR attitude of “what is the use” has created a set of governments thru out the world who R catering to the greeds & needs of the TNC & MNCs not the people at large.If u disagree please feel free to do BUT kindly desist from denigrating the good folks who are attempting to make a difference.
Dude, how much harder is it to type “are” instead of “R” and “through” instead of “thru?” Please take the time to write with care.
I agree: The White House is the problem, anyway.
20+ years of destroying our lives.
Wall Street is now ‘occupied’, itself, mostly by foreign dignitaries, and foreign rich people.
How come the #OWS does not GET this?
I don’t know.
Fannie and Freddie, the biggest lenders were the ones we had to ‘bail out’ the most.
That powerful force for good is _exactly_ what people who #occupy are sharing. Despite everything from the 1% who are oppressing us, to the militarized Police, to our fear of the future, to the despair in the present – we have HOPE that something can and will change if we work hard enough. It is liberating, it creates a living community of hope as you’re surrounded by other Americans from all walks of life and all ages.
We are changing the future. We can build a better future. No one can stop us. We are the 99%, and we are here.
‘the 1% who are oppressing us’
The Congress and Senate do not make up even 1%.
*THEY* are the oprressors.
Totally digging your blog!
Wow 3 min of my life I will never get back.
Four minutes if you count the time it took you to post a lame reply…great time-management skills over here! 🙂
Probably way better than all the millions of other minutes you’ve spent on this planet.
Definitely posted something that embodies this spirit in my blog recently. Good for you!
Your blog entry popped up on the front page of WordPress, and the title “Off the couch and into the streets” caught my attention because I’m looking for a fun way to lose some extra weight. Thus, my expectations were different than you might have expected when you wrote this blog entry.
The Occupy [your locale] movement, Arab Spring, and any/all protestations against the common/established social structure are perennial, which usually fall under the label “counterculture.” I encourage you to feel and act differently, supporting your subcultural beliefs no matter how much you may feel crushed/oppressed by the common culture under which you live and socialise.
Having grown up during the 1960s global counterculture movement, my perspective, as a child at the tailend of the Baby Boomer generation, has taught and continues to teach me that those who protest will encourage others to act in less obvious, newsworthy manners, to effect longterm change.
I’m glad you have a job which gave you the flexibility and courage to join those who wanted to voice their displeasure with the current state of our common culture on day on the streets of Denver. Hopefully, through your job and with your friends, you can be the change you want to see today and into the future.
I’m definitely counterculture. But reasonably so. I’m a hippy who likes makeup (cruelty-free of course).
Good luck with your weight loss!
A hippie with makeup – one of the first signs of the Apocalypse! Next, we’ll find out you own leather goods, drink non fair-trade coffee, drive a gas-powered car that gets less than 100 miles/gal, use a computer that dumps toxic waste overseas and have a checking account at a major bank. [j/k]
Thanks for the weight loss encouragement – guess I better get up off of this comfortable office chair and take a money-free, clean-air, invigorating walk around the suburban neighbourhood in which I live and rarely see people outside. Admittedly, I’ve lived next to three of my neighbours for almost 25 years and we’ve probably only spoken to each other a few dozen times, total. How’s that for a fully participatory citizenry?! 😉
You bring up what I consider to be one of the major problems with American society today, isolation. Our architecture, urban planning, and culture emphasize the individual, which leads to isolation and disillusionment. I remember that when I came back from studying abroad, I went into a deep depression because I couldn’t understand why no one would talk to me on the bus and why my neighbors didn’t want to know me.
Try Meetup.com to find groups of people who have similar interests to you, even weight loss! or take the initiative and go over to your neighbors’ houses with cookies/wine/an offer to weed their garden.
This post is such a strong rallying cry and written incredibly well. Congrats on being freshly pressed – it is very much deserved.
I lived in Seattle during the WTO protests. I didn’t protest, but I remember feeling nervous when I went downtown during that week. I suffer from multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome so pepper spray is not an option for me, unless I want to end up in the emergency room.
I see more and more evidence that we are living in a police state. We have no freedom of speech unless we are promoting consumerism and big corporations. And if we think the situation is grim under a Democratic president, it would be far worse under a Republican one. And yet, we need a leadership that is more aligned with “the people” and I just don’t see that happening in the near future. But I could be wrong.
The more people who begin to think about what the political system actually accomplishes (reaffirming “In God We Trust” while a national debt crisis looms?), the better. I believe that change is possible. I think we are seeing the beginnings of it now.
We can change the system democratically.
Unlike so many of the myriad voices here, I hadn’t come to stay long, but I did; and now I’m writing this! You’re an excellent chronicler of events, every description is vivid and puts the reader right there in the moment. I felt your initial apprehension, I felt your growing confidence, and I felt your fear; all of it is right here and its empowering and I am inspired.
Thank you!! 🙂
Such a sad, strange time. I’m in Reno, where we’re experiencing 80-mph wind gusts and 20+homes burned overnight — and more continue to be in the path of this horrible fire. And now I read this, and think of all the people trying to do good and make a difference …
Please, 2012, hurry. And please, people of our amazing country: Exercise compassion and critical thinking skills. Both are missing in our world right now…
Something is happening all over the world. People are calling for change. I guess most people are fed up with the loveless persons who just want their pockets to grow bigger without thinking about the consequences. The same protests has been going on and of in Sweden for the last ten years. Thank you for a fantastic and nicely written account of your part of it.
I was in Chile for six months this year, and in May they began massive nationwide protests for education reform. They fed off the Arab Spring and faced a much more violent police crackdown than Occupy Wall Street. There were weeks that the main streets of Santiago were full of tear gas three or four times.
I remember being a little scared of it, but also proud that Chileans were so willing to protest against their government, even in the face of police action. They managed to get through the winter in the Southern Hemisphere, and so can OWS. I hope that this time the protests spread all over the world, like in 1968 but with better connectivity.
Chileans have a long and proud history of protesting against oppression of all sorts. I have been following the protests for free education with my Spanish class.
It is sad that something so fundamental should only be for the privileged.
In Sweden we still have free education from kindergarten up and including university. At university you are even paid around 400 dollars per months if you pass your courses. Apart from that you can borrow another 800 from the government and pay them back when you start working.
I come from a working class background (my father came as an immigrant with only 8 years of schooling) and still I had the fortune to study at university.
It is something worth fighting for
That’s a similar system to the Australian one, in which students borrow money from the government to go to school and then begin paying it back once they reach a certain level of income. If they don’t, the loan is forgiven after 20 years.
In Chile, the protests focused on the improvement of the public school system for those not in college, and that was something I was whole-heartedly behind. I got to see just how bad it can be, and it truly is in need of democratization and reform. Desperately.
Found you via freshpressed. What a great tale and photos. You know at first, I didn’t “get” the occupy movement and everyone was making fun of how it was sort of visionless and pointless, but I’m so pleased to see that it’s starting to get legs behind it.
Nothing is perfect from the get go, but if enough people rally behind it, it will eventually get a united and clear voice and true leaders will emerge. Heck, if enough people participate, I’m sure some politicians will start jumping in too. I want nothing more than for this movement do drive change from the bottom up…because we all know that the top down approach is not working.
Thank you again for sharing and for having the guts to participate. I live in a small town, so my nearest occupy site is over an hour away. I haven’t been able to get a first hand look at it but this gets me pretty close.
Thanks for sharing your experience. I live in Seattle and after WTO I’ve become a bit cynical about morons that infiltrate a good cause simply because they’re bored or stoned or whatever. You have me rethinking that pattern of thought. And I love your comment management approach 🙂
There are always going to be morons/stoners/touched people who latch onto movements. And then there are the perennial anarchists and hardliners who advocate violence. Unfortunately, these are the people that the media often decide to show as the faces of a larger, calmer, nonviolent movement.
The great part about yesterday was that the larger, calmer group managed to reign in the goofballs efficiently.
Much like you and your successful diffusion of shallow-minded commentators. You’re right about the media…the third ring of the circus including politicians and bankers.
“Get off your couches! Democracy is not a spectator sport!”
Well done, young lady! Way to impact your world in a positive way!
Just be careful out there…
Sorry but I can’t get behind a movement that rapes women and all the HIPPIES are over dosing, you idiots have no idea what your protesting. If you did you would be protesting Obama, wall street has made more money on his watch they they ever did on Bushes. I wish I would have never voted for that idiot. Below are links to the truth, wake up morons.
I’m just approving this because I want everyone to see what a smear campaign looks like.
A moving and powerful post, well written. There does, indeed come a time when all we can do is march.
I would ask all of these critics to stop and actually think for a moment rather than approaching the whole phenomenon with a ‘so tell us what to do if you know better’ attitude, as if marching and protesting were not in themselves justified. A protest can occur because things have gone far enough and it needs saying. A protest can occur because there are too many folk in positions of authority and power who have done little more than tut over the millions made and lost.
The marchers are not stupid – they all know very well that there is no instant solution, no magic ‘5 point plan’. If there was I am sure that one of the powerful and authoritative wonder folk would have become the hero of the hour by now. But surely the marchers and occupiers can be allowed to shout their pain and frustration at being pawns of a system that has eaten up their future and those of their kids?
No, of course there are no answers, instant or otherwise and it’s all going to be very hard. But criticising protest because it inconveniences the system somehow totally misses the point.
Thank you for your posting
There were a few people in Denver yesterday who watched us with an “Oh my God, you guys…you’re totally ruining my deep-fried business lunch….” but there were a lot more who were happy to see us.
Thanks, we’ve only been able to see what the news wants to show!
Beautiful, and beautifully written. Thank you for your insight.
I’m in my office at work right now. It’s Friday and I’ve been working all week. Grateful to have employment. My taxes will go to feed those marching and raging in the streets. Hmmm… Connie
Excellent use of the office time to blog and comment.
I have a job, too! Many of the protestors yesterday were on their lunch breaks from jobs downtown. I pay my taxes, too. I give to charity, despite the fact that I have almost no money. I volunteer. I teach. I’m not some lackey sucking your tax dollars out of their rightful place.
That’s a tired argument, and categorically false. Just go observe one march. Join the debate in person! It changes everything.
One thing I noticed You used the word “I” seven times in a very short paragraph. It’s really all about a bunch of selfish socialists discontent with freedom and envious of others around them. They are pretending to care for the poor in order to advance their anarchy, their violence, their theft, and their agenda… And that’s the truth. Connie
If Occupy as contradictory and hive-mind-ish as some would have us all believe (ahem…Glenn Beck), the use of “I” and the expression of my individual thoughts, feelings, and stories wouldn’t be there. But those opposing it are contradictory, too. If we are all just “a bunch of selfish socialists,” then why call it a movement that limits individualism? It seems that we all have a bit of contradiction in us, which is just part of the human condition.
Well, thanks for outing me…I am a socialist.
(*stage whisper*…Did she just admit to that?)
But I’m more than that. I’m a socialist, a libertarian, a communist, and an environmentalist (need an idea of what my “agenda” is? Read La Chemin de L’Espérance). In the US, many of these terms are considered insults, or levied against those with whom politicians disagree. In the past, they were used to discredit artists, writers, film-makers, and average citizens. Under the HUAC and the Macarthyist Red Scare, just calling someone by the term might be enough to draw scrutiny to their activities. Thousands ended up blacklisted. Even speaking in favor of socialism or seeming to like a few communist ideas was social suicide.
Being a socialibertaricommunenvironmentalist does not mean that I am against freedom, democracy, or even healthy debate. I am whole-heartedly in favor of all of those things. I’m so in favor of them that I’m willing to put myself on the line and admit to a political paradigm that brings a whole truckfull of cultural baggage.
This is a rousing call to action and a frank discussion of the feelings, especially anxiety, that raise the stakes of participating in – and so producing – radical democracy.
(I am also happy to see a post like yours – one on issues of substance and public interest – being featured on Freshly Pressed, for a change.)
In Philadelphia, the Occupy movement stands to delay a construction project (i.e. real jobs with justice) because they are disorganized and cannot manage their minions to accommodate a long-scheduled downtown revitilization effort. At the same time they protest economic injustice, they keep people from getting to work; defile in the worst ways public buildings and spaces whose cleanup will take funds away worthwhile programs/needs; and cost the city millions in police overtime.
It’s hard to figure how they are “helping” large urban cities they are occupying. Cities with high concentrations of low-income, needy people, public schools, and urban blight.
Every penny spent to manage, control and accommodate the crowds takes away from a city already unable to meet the needs of its citizens.
Quite the conundrum …
It is a conundrum. Thanks for posting about it. I hope they can find a way to accommodate the project but still continue the protest, whether through occupation or by other means. The big issues (the cooptation of government by corporations and big money, to the detriment of the political rights of everyone else) are not going to go away just because a downtown revitalization project goes ahead.
“Every penny spent to manage, control and accommodate the crowds takes away from a city already unable to meet the needs of its citizens.”
That’s a fair point, but frankly the protests have always been largely peaceful. Yes, it takes money to manage crowds. But shouldn’t there be more scrutiny of the fact that Congress has absolutely run this country into the ground from a debt point of view already? Police aggression led to escalation in recent weeks, and that adds to the cost as well. Tear gas canisters aren’t cheap after all. The additional $20,000 requested by Denver Police in response to Occupy Denver is a grain of sand compared to the 15 trillion dollars in debt owed to our various creditors.
Many occupiers took to the streets to protest the crumbling infrastructure of this nation by occupying bridges and projects that are in obvious states of disrepair. It’s complex, but that doesn’t mean it’s pointless.
I’m not disputing the premise that Congress – or corporations for that matter – should be under sufficient scrutiny and penalties for the clusterduck economy we have right now. Or that OWS doesn’t have the right to express that viewpoint. It’s their tactics that are such a glaring contradiction to their so-called objectives.
How long does thing gone on? What will the total costs be to already economically-damaged cities like Philly? Who will be footing that bill? Not the corporations …
I am in Portland and still recovering from N17…great blog and pics…I have so many pics and vids and I am to tired to edit them 🙂
Thank you for sharing your frontline experience.
The difference between the police and the protesters is like the difference between water and fire. The one group is confined in their designated roles, hindered by those around them who, like they, are not willing to see beyond the lies that are fed them. The other group has broken away from their designated roles, no longer feeling restrained because there is nothing to restrain them.
Being jobless often does that to people. That is why many of the protesters are jobless. They have nothing, so they must fight for what they want and what they deserve by our protected rights.
Good luck and have a great time. I used to protest Honeywell in Minneapolis MN. They made landmines and we protested them because they were so devastating and destructive, to the environment and to civilians. I got arrested, posted bail, and was set free. If only I were young enough to do it again.
i was just in New York this past weekend and I saw the park with all the tents. It was amazing to see all of the people living in tents to support this
Very interesting website about different protestation. There are also a lot of them going on these days in Montreal as the McGill employees are stiking as well as many protests for occupy Montreal. Also follow my site if you want for different opinions on different topics.
While I think the occupy protests are a beautiful thing, I think it’s important to keep in mind ideas like this video here. Very thoughtful!
It’s better to create something on your own than take others out of power.
Great post! Thank you for sharing! I will follow your blog!
Good for you, and thanks. Thank you also for taking the time to answer so many of these comments in a level-headed fashion,especially when you’re being deliberately provoked. I especially appreciate your talking about your feelings as you began to take part in your first demo — fears, hesitations, misgivings, motivations, exhilaration. Bravo!
As someone who has witnessed both the NYC and DC occupy movements, I will state again: I love that people are realizing they can voice their opinion and are actually forming opinions about the economy, gov’t etc. What I do NOT love: herd mentality, lack of leadership in the movement and most of all, solutions. What is the common desire, and what are the proposed solutions? This isn’t a simple anti-war protest, which has a set theme and goal: end the war. There needs to be some organization.
And while I’m glad that people are standing up for themselves and what they believe in, it should not be disrupting other people’s lives. In NYC the other day they were planning on closing the subways bc of the protesters. Why?? I asked. So that the million non-protesters daily lives are severely interrupted by a lack of public transportation? If I still lived in NYC, I would have been quite, well, pissed off. I hope this remains peaceful.
In other parts of the world, strikes that disrupt transport are fairly common. While I was living in France for a mere month, there were two. It’s an inconvenience, but it’s not the end of the world. People find ways around it.
What is the common desire? Seems pretty clear to me. Equality. Actual, real, non-money-based equality. It’s just wrong to treat someone with more money as though they are superior as a being. Frankly the list of problems is so long and things are so messed up that it’s hard to know where to start. I believe (and I do not speak for the whole movement) that solutions must focus on separation of corporation and state, tougher campaign regulations, universal direct suffrage for presidential elections, and more investment in education. But do you have concrete suggestions to fix what is obviously a broken system? I’d love to hear them.
Isn’t it a little contradictory to say you dislike the “herd mentality” and then a sentence later claim that there isn’t enough cohesion within the movement?
I studied in France for four months, and yes, they were striking every other day it seemed. To me, it was kind of ridiculous, especially when they closed my school. And if I had had a scheduled trip on one of the days the trains had been down because of striking, my money would have gone to waste. It might seem petty, but, money rules everything, whether we like it or not.
I also witnessed post-revolution Egypt–and let me tell you, it’s not pretty. It will be years before that country returns to something remotely stable and normal. People protested with a common goal, yes–to bring down Mubarak–but the realities of creating a new state where “everyone has money” are terrifyingly daunting, and not exactly possible. “Wanting equality” money-wise is never going to happen, unless a country turns to Communism (!) There will always be a rich and a poor, unfortunately, and since the dawn of organized mankind the rich have had higher status than the poor. I don’t agree that it should be like that necessarily, but this is something that could never be changed overnight; it would probably take centuries!
Your solutions I agree on; Focus on separation of corporation and state–I can agree on that one certainly, as well as the other solutions that you mentioned. I don’t really have solutions because I don’t follow politics in the whole “party, rep/dem, candidates” sense, so I can’t say much about [it].
What I meant by “herd mentality” is that I believe there are sometimes people who join a protest–any protest–simply because others are doing it or, if they are more of a hippie/pseudo-hippie they want to do anything to challenge the establishment. That is what i meant by herd mentality: people blindly following something just to follow it. People following the same cause–if it is well-argued and logical–is fine.
Thanks for the concessions! This is what healthy, logical debate is about.
See my comment above about there always being a dumbass/stoner in the group. It’s annoying to us, too…discredits the people who are truly in the movement for good reasons.
I enjoyed reading your blog. I used to live in Littleton myself. I’m in Tokyo now and lasat night I was in the the streets of Shibuya not protesting though. Life in Japan is such a bold contrast to America and your writing makes me appreciate that even more.
While I can appreciate your need to get involved, I have to agree with Hatboro Mike on the point he made about the Occupy movement preventing people with jobs from getting to work and doing business. It seems to me the movement itself is so self-focused it is losing sight of the bigger picture. By keeping people from their jobs they are doing exactly the opposite of what they say they have set out to do.
Also, as a family that is struggling financially, but still trying to make a go of a business, all I can say is get out of the street and make your own opportunities!
The Occupy protesters share thoughts that have been on my mind for a very long time. The more they protest, the less I like the obscene salaries paid to execs can’t be sustained especially in light of the fact they those same execs ask workers to take less. I have not forgotten the GFC and never will. Corporate greed caused the GFC and will cause another one because the people who reap most of the rewards for the labours of their staff have learned nothing. They continue to take as much as they can get in an orgy of greed fulled by an ever increasing insistence on consumption.
I am still not exactly sure what the whole point is. Is it about money? Does someone have a better idea of a system that could be implemented instead of our current system? Why don’t we protest until the minimum wage is doubled. At least that is a goal. The banks have the money. Why aren’t they loaning it out? Waiting for a Republican president?
Or is it about being treated equally like you told one of the commenters above? That is a much more difficult goal.
I’m glad you have a job which gave you the flexibility and courage to join those who wanted to voice their displeasure with the current state of our common culture on day on the streets of Denver. Hopefully, through your job and with your friends, you can be the change you want to see today and into the future.
Really, really loved your account. It’s people like you who redeem the movement from the mess the mainstream media is making of it. And I LOVED your description of how participating made you feel – the sense of hope, liberation, and connection. Those feelings are completely in my experience too. Also, GREAT job on your comments. I’m feeling inspired….
Thank you! Spread this post wherever you want to! I’m happy to have such a response!
Old fart to noob:
I’m burnt out. Doesn’t mean you have to be. Keep going outside your comfort zone, and it will get bigger. I still participate when I can, and this is big. Something you’ll rave about in the nursing home. Be glad.
Inspiring words, and commendable courage. Regardless of a person’s perspective on the “Occupy” movements, no one can deny that it takes a backbone to stand up for what you believe.
One step at a time.
Keep up the good work! It’s important to show that protests are (most often) legitimate claims by ordinary people. Interesting to read a well-written account of OWS and protest in America as I have only experience from my native Europe.
Bravo!! Not only is your story well written, it’s full of inspiration. You did great. Here in New York, OWS is the event of the century; perhaps of the millenium. You can’t even get near lower Manhattan, but I watch it on the news.
Though we may disagree in many areas, we don’t regarding free speech.
Let’s remember that no matter if we’re in the 99, 1, 53, or 2 percent, that we’re also in the 100%.
Great article, Go girl. You earn all my respect!
Thank you for the account. I applaud your courage. I would have been really afraid although I agree we must live life out of our comfort zone.
To me, its something that would be impossible to experience since I am living in Singapore but I am heartened to know that there are some people who are fighting for their rights.
There’s hope after all.
They peppered sprayed an 84 yr old woman?! Disgusting! Great post, and photos. Thanks for keeping me informed.
I don’t think that there’s a perfect politics… for me… people has his and her own differences towards their principles in life so… we can’t change the fact that whoever might the president/ the officers be… still nothing will change… i think the “Change” connotation much refer to each and every individuals of the state… anyway.. good post.. 🙂
First time visitor. Great perspective of the cause … and good pics too.
Hi Coleen, it was really interesting to read about your experience, as in the “craddle of democracy” where I come from, we have our first tear-gas encounter around age 16… Respect to you and to all those people like you out there. People need to understand that all this corruption will not go away if they just work and shut-up.
Nice post! Thank you for sharing! I will follow your blog!
How did we come to a place in this country where some people are so afraid of dissension and freedom of speech that your admirable post here garners such ridiculous, irrational and paranoid comments? People – don’t use the word “socialist” just because Fox News bandies it about. Have you bothered to look up the word? Have you bothered to take a look at the OWS platform of issues? THINK FOR YOURSELVES!
I wonder if the people here complaining about the OWS movement made a peep about the Tea Party rallies during which TPs showed up with guns or toward the Westboro Baptists who disrupted funerals of fallen soldiers.
So, the inconvenience of having to walk around some protestors is annoying. Yeah, exercising one’s freedom of assembly and speech is messy and inconvenient, but this system is better than the alternative.
Merci pour ton témoignage Coleen !
I am with you. Though our numbers and our voices we will be heard. New York http://aligaeta.wordpress.com/2011/11/19/occupied-in-spirit/
kinda not getting the whole protest on wall street thing. i mean, are you protesting people who make a lot of money? that doesnt make sense. You want to make a lot of money, go out and make some. these people arent any smarter than you, they just do it. of course they may have something on their side to get them started, ie money, but a lot of people just start from the bottom and just … make a lot of money. thats America. Thats whats the country is about. the money is there, you just have to do it. and no im not rich. too lazy to let myself be constantly pursuing more and more money, but always need it because of that, lol.
if you are protesting banks and interest, i wholeheartedly agree. anything with an interest rate is a rip off. i have decided my own revolt and am paying no more interest. period. bcse if you think about it for a moment – what you earn and what you pay just in interest, your pretty much working for the bank. but if you have no interest, you can live quite comfortably. maybe not rich, but pretty comfortable with a regular job. so just recently, ive revolted. no more interest payments. starting with my house. i dont want it. i can do better, and i will. let em do what they will, i will recover and purchase some shack somewhere. better this than paying 10.00 to my mortgage and 750.00 to the bank in interest on the mortgage. my mortgage equals 10 years of earnings, with the interest – not doing it. bankruptcy here i come!
so if you really wanna revolt, cut of their check. that definately gets their attention, and in a big way!
Alive, immediate, powerful and influential piece of writing. Congratulations.
“…. I couldn’t understand why no one would talk to me on the bus and why my neighbors didn’t want to know me……”
Where I live, in Glasgow in Scotland, you can hardly get people to STOP talking to you on the bus, and we live in a building which is a real community of great neighbours. Why not come to live here for a while?!
beautifully written. i love the fact that you busted the police officer. nice work.
thanks for your courage, Colleen! thank you for sharing this.
Wow. You are amazing! And so brave! Thanks for sharing, great post!
Thank you for sharing the pictures!
Great photos + good writing + nice topic = freshly pressed worth blog entry. Nice! 🙂
I applaud your courage, patience and clarity. I support the Occupy movement, and it is amazing to me that so many people believe that there is no alternative to an economic system that has really only existed in it’s present form for about 10 years. (not stuck on this number, could be 15 or 20- not the point) The cutting of corporate taxes, the deregulation of the financial sector, the cutting of social programs, the privatization of nearly everything, the bailing out of bad managers and paying them bonuses for screwing up, the demonization of unions and other people who are fighting for justice–these are relatively recent phenomena. I remember a different way. In this instance, some going back would be going forward.
I think it’s amazing how many people are standing up for what they believe. I’m not sure what it is they’re protesting, but good luck.
Great story. I’ve been blogging a lot about the Occupy movement of late, but have never got off my backside to join a protest. Congratulations on taking a stand 🙂
hi, it’s mavi, from turkey. i would like to use one of your photos above (the sign says “wake up, get up, stand up for your rights”).
i have a blog, too. and these days one of my main concerns is the internet censorship which will be gone into effect tomorrow. the government has decided to “decide” which websites and blogs we could read which i consider the violation of the freedom of communication. what you did in those streets was quite an inspiration. so i decided to use that photo for my blog, with your approval.
here’s the link to my blog: zahirvemavi.blogspot.com you can check it out if you like. i haven’t release the post yet. and of course, it’s in turkish.
i hope it wouldn’t be a problem. waiting for your reply.
sorry about the poor english and thanks for your time
Hi, Mavi! Your English is great, don’t worry about it!
You can use the picture, but you must caption it with my name and provide a link to this article. I will check in on your blog to make sure that this is followed.
I had a blog about my time teaching English in Chile that ended up blocked by the Turkish government, so it wouldn’t be the first time! Good luck!
thank you very much 😀 as soon as i finished the post i will release it, giving you the credit of course (i am not going to download it just use the link of the photo) and send you the link.
have a nice day
Very proud of you and your move to do something that you genuinely believe in. I especially like the 84 year old’s advice : Whatever you do, take one more step out of your comfort zone.” And will proceed to share it with all those around me.
hi, you can find the post here: http://zahirvemavi.blogspot.com/2011/11/ab-temel-haklar-bildirgesi-madde-11.html
you can see your name and blog’s address at the end of the post, as promised. thanks again 😀
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