Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It's About Damn Time

I saw the huge angry crowds in Egpyt , Tunisia, Libya and elsewhere this spring... I heard the angry voices .....I heard that these protests were all organized on Facebook, Twitter and Blogs and I kept wondering...When was it going to happen here? When?

We certainly have enough to be angry about given the current state of things in this country right now.  Apparently ....then is now...and it's spreading.

A budding protest movement began last month in New York with a vague sense of grievance over the widening gap between the rich and poor in America.

But in less than three full weeks, it has provided fuel for a broader national anti-corporate message, drawing inspiration from the Arab Spring but struggling to define its goals beyond a general feeling that power needs to be restored to ordinary people.

Now similar protests are springing up in Boston, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Kansas City, Mo., and Chicago, and organizers in Washington, D.C., plan a march at Freedom Plaza on Thursday to "denounce the systems and institutions that support endless war and unrestrained corporate greed."

On Monday morning, the scene at the heart of the self-styled "Occupy Wall Street" movement - Zuccotti Park, two blocks north of Wall Street - had the feeling of a street fair, with women in brightly colored wigs playing with hula hoops.

A collection of protesters wearing white face paint with streaks resembling blood at their lips conducted a "zombie parade" down Broadway to underscore what they see as the ghoulish nature of capitalism.

Despite having no single leader and no organized agenda, the protesters insist they are on the verge of translating their broad expression of grievance into a durable national cause. "The criticism has focused on the lack of cohesion in our message and demands," said Arthur Kohl-Riggs, 23, a political activist from Madison, Wis. But what the critics don't understand, he said, is "the value of forming a direct democratic movement" that is not controlled by political elites.

The protests have drawn an assortment of anarchists, anti-globalization activists and disaffected 20-somethings from North Carolina, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The efforts have also drawn support from union members, including New York transportation workers who allowed some of the protesters to take shelter inside the subway system.

Brought together by social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook,
participants hope the New York protests can plant the seeds of a permanent national movement. The website occupy serves as a clearinghouse for information on the movement and includes a list of events around the country.

The primary theme is that corporate capitalists, backed by corrupt politicians, have tipped the balance of the economic system too far in favor of the powerful, thus condemning the regular guy to a sea of debt and little opportunity. As one sign put it: "The loan shark ate my world."

"The American dream is dead or dying," said Max Richmond, 26, a New York City-based carpenter from Millerton, N.Y. "Four or five weeks ago, I was just another apathetic, defeatist member of my generation. Being here, I'm not. We were all just waiting for something like this to happen."

The Occupy Wall Street protests started on Sept. 17 with a few dozen demonstrators who tried to pitch tents in front of the New York Stock Exchange. About 100 demonstrators were arrested on Sept. 24 and some were pepper-sprayed.

On Saturday, police arrested 700 on charges of disorderly conduct and blocking a public street as they tried to march over the Brooklyn Bridge. Police said they took five more protesters into custody on Monday, though it was unclear whether they had been charged with any crime.

The movement has struck a chord in some liberal New York circles, attracting celebrities such as actress Susan Sarandon and former New York Gov. David Paterson. It also got a seal of approval from one of the world's most successful capitalists, billionaire George Soros, who said the demonstrators had every reason to be angry at the U.S. financial system for jeopardizing their future.

"I can sympathize with their grievances," Soros told reporters at U.N. headquarters Monday, faulting U.S. banks for driving small businesses out of existence by boosting credit charges to unsupportable levels. Soros, who has profited during the financial crisis, suggested that the banks' selfish conduct has provided grist for powerful anti-establishment movements, from the tea
party to Occupy Wall Street.

Jay Benson, a 25-year-old from Minnesota, said he drove to New York several days ago with a friend to participate in the demonstrations. A forklift operator whose father worked for 35 years at the same railroad job, Benson voiced frustration at the piecemeal jobs he has had to take to make ends meet. "One week I get 34 hours; the next week I'd have 12."

Not everyone was impressed.

Christopher Dilmer, 44, a steamfitter who works at the World Trade Center site, said he had trouble figuring out what the hubbub was all about.

"I don't know what they are protesting," Dilmer said, adding that everyone seemed to want something different. Dilmer said he spoke to one 21-year-old protester "who said he'd quit his job to come here. I said, You have a job, and you quit it to protest joblessness?' "

Dilmer said he's not disputing that the country's "economy is in the tank," but he thinks most of the young protesters could find work if they put their mind to it. "If you want a job, you can find a job," said Dilmer, who said he had traveled to Detroit and Denver to get work. "It might not be the job you want. I did what I had to do."

The scene was calm Monday morning as hundreds of protesters shook off the autumn chill, slipped out of their sleeping bags and gathered around a makeshift kitchen, where they snacked on donated food. Nearby, someone had set up a board for people to write suggestions for what the movement's goal should be.

They included calls to "demand jobs for all," to "talk about imperialism," to "talk about campaign finance reform" and to "give out chalk to everyone to write slogans on all walls as we march."

Like I said...It's about damn time....They talked about an Arab Spring a few months ago...could this be the beginning of American Autumn?


Sean said...

I like that..."American Autumn"

James Perkins said...

You're right...It's way past time that Americans got outraged and took it to the streets.

Cheryl said...

Very Insightful post...I learn so much on this blog.

Jazzy said...

You tell em fam!

Captain Jack said...

You are givin it to the people-okayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

DBH said...

I know that's right Keith!

Sunflower said...

Very thoughtful and insightful as usual!

Toni said...

I'm thinking about going to New York this weekend and joing them.

Angie B. said...

Me too!

Brenda said...

You've said it all...I welcome American Autumn.

Anonymous said...

The beginning of a new political is about time that the white folk wake up and see the madness around them concerning the state of our country, we put our trust in buffoons and liars,maybe now we can vote some of these bums out of office that wont stand up for what is fair and descent for all...hail American autumn for doing the right thing even if you are getting your heads cracked in by police ,America is watching and learning and seeing the truth!


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