If anyone tells you occupy dc is a bunch of hippies who are there because they don’t have jobs, or want a handout don’t believe them.
Each time that I have visited the protest, I have seen people of various ages with a variety of issues of special interest to them. Some were there because of the drones in Afghanistan. Others were there to protest what global greed is costing the planet. Still others were there to protest what cuts to Social Security and Medicare would do to them. There were young people, seniors and people in between. People from California, Massachusetts, West Virgina. There were even some locals there. One couple I saw were there with their dog.
If you look around McPherson Square you see people milling about, booths with information on specific issues, a general info booth, a first aid booth and a legal information booth. It looks like a community, with all the diversity that a community has. The highlight of the evening was the general assembly, which functions much like the one in New York City.
arious people speaking at microphones, with input from the assembly as such. I would estimate, there were perhaps a couple of hundred people directly participating in the g.a. an increase from the previous night. This assembly is held nightly to discuss the events of the day, the plans for the next day, and arrive at decisions on issues as they arise.
This is an organized event, albeit not in the way, most events are organized. It’s fluid and has the ability to adjust as circumstances warrant. There are no top down directives. Everything is done by a consensus of the willing participants of the general assembly.
The agenda, as such is planned at the beginning of the meeting. Issues are raised from participants. Among the recently raised issues, were the day’s actions, the need to set up committees for clean-up, potential legal action for the pepper spray incident.
Identifying the planned actions for the next day, discussions on issues and finally the will of the assembly on the issues. It’s, you know, democratic. Individuals expressing their will, without the influence of K street, of the corporations, of anyone but themselves. Yes, some of the participants are activists, with clear issues they wish to pursue. Many are just people who are fed up with corporate greed and a corporate controlled government.
Another myth that must be dispensed with, based on what I have seen with my own eyes, is the notion that this is organized by the Democratic Party, of the Democratic Party and for the Democratic Party. The people I spoke to were strictly non-partisan. If you asked them about the president or the Democrats, they would respond with hostility that is only surpassed by reference to the Republicans or the Tea Party.
When I asked one elderly gentleman what he thought of “all this” he was delighted. He went on to tell me about the reality that cuts in Social Security meant he would have to choose between his medication and having a home. He is part of the 99%. He doesn’t claim to represent the 99%, only that he is part of them, part of that 99% that has no voice in Washington. He voted for Obama, but now sees him as part of the corporate machine. He has lost faith in corporate Washington, D.C. Forget Congress, forget the president. This man wants the people to make the decisions. Get rid of the corporate influence and maybe we’ll talk.
I spoke with a few other people at random, as I walked around getting a feel for the Freedom Plaza community. Different issues, ranging from the wars, to the planet, but the sentiments were the same. These are people who have given up on the government as we know it. They have given up on both political parties. If I had to put their wishes in one sentence, it would be straight out of the preamble of the Constitution. They want government of the people for the people and by the people. And I get the sense they aren’t leaving until they get what they want.