Winding down my last full day in NJ/NYC I wanted to check out the Occupy Wall Street demonstration, protests or assembly (not really sure what the official term is.)
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, Occupy Wall Street is an ongoing demonstration in NYC (a has since spread to multiple cities) in Zucotti Park, near Wall St. The participants are mainly protesting social and economic inequality, corporate greed, as well as the power and influence of corporations, particularly from the financial service sector, and lobbyists over government. [taken from Occupy Wall Street Wikipedia entry]
Armed with limited information, since mainstream media coverage has been scarce, I wanted to see what was really going on and experience things first hand and publish some thoughts and observations.
Occupy Wall Street Observations
- Demonstration Message: As I approached the park, I grew confused. People were holding signs and chanting about lobbyists, corporate greed, being the 99% of people who don’t possess the 1% of wealth, police brutality, legalization of marijuana, ethical treatment of animals and racism. I thought corporate greed and jobs were the main point – but other issues are also on the agenda.
- Overall Demeanor of Protesters: I found all the protesters willing to answer questions from the public in a respectful manner. No one I encountered was aggressive, rude or anything of the like. I’ve heard reports of open drug use from the protesters. We did see a number of park inhabitants openly smoking pot in the park. To me, no big deal – that happens in every park, in every city.
- State of Zucotti Park: The park and sidewalks are filled with trash. The NYC Parks Department are unable to maintain their routine sanitation schedule due to people living in the park. Moving forward, this will be a problem.
- NYC Police: There is a heavy presence of NYC police. I did not see police interacting with the crowd at all. The police I saw were all on the other side of the street keeping a watchful eye on the gathering.
- Protesters: The makeup of the Occupy Wall Street protesters is extremely diverse. Drum banging hippies, that reminded me more of a Grateful Dead parking lot than an economical protest to people donning the attire and goods from the big corporations they’re protesting. Everyone seemed very peaceful, and I didn’t get the feeling that any individuals were looking to start trouble – they are looking to be heard.
This movement is sticky and people are organizing similar rallies across the country, but will there be change – I don’t know. I think what’s missing (at least from my experience) is a lack of a unified voice. No one really knows what they want, no one can decipher what’s the agenda and how and protest can make a difference.
(For more photos from our day visit Kevin Eberle’s Occupy Wall Street photos)