Sunday, October 9, 2011

Occupy, up close

Thoughts after a Saturday night visit to Occupy Boston:
First of all, it's more than just young kids whining about being about of work.
Most of the people camping out on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, the ones that I saw, truly believe financial inequality in society needs to be addressed.  They're like many of us, justifiably pissed that so much of the country's wealth is in the hands of so few.  They also take serious objection to the notion that so much of the financial help has gone to the big banks, who in turn have been so tight-fisted when loaning money.
Many of these people don't even pitch tents.  They tell me they go to work, sometimes two jobs, and go to the site when they can.
The usual suspects are also there, the ones that always turn out for the Power-to-the-People protests. Many of them remind me of the anti-war crowd I used to see in Shawsheen Square in Andover, MA on Sundays.  These are people who cut their activist teeth in the anti-Vietnam protests.  They've been activists on standby ever since.
There are those who say the whole system needs to be thrown out.  They say capitalism hasn't worked (for them).  There are plenty of Socialists in the group.
But back to the Occupy Boston crowd:  they think they can make a difference, just by calling attention to their issue, which mainly is about the disparity between have and have-nots.  Most are young, most are quite energetic.
They like talking about it, too.  I struck up conversations with a handful of demonstrators, and heard earnest descriptions of the same problem, and the need to fix it.  Not any ideas about how to fix it, but the need to get a conversation going that will get lawmakers to take action.
A Boston University student told me she didn't know all the issues, but she sees so many of her friends working at least two jobs, and still not getting anywhere.  She's nervous about the future.  She claims she goes to the site every day after class.
Then there was this guy, who told me he had just arrived from New York.  He said it was crazy at the Occupy Wall Street protests:
The Occupy Boston protest, as of this writing, is a peaceful one.  God willing, it will stay that way.  There's plenty of music, shared food, beverage, tobacco and other things people can smoke.  I talked with a couple of police officers, who told me the crowd has been very well-behaved.
Cigarettes appear to be at a premium.  Four people tried to bum smokes from me.  Never mind that a 7-11 is maybe half a mile away from the protest site.
I wonder when Mayor Menino will say it's time for the protest to end?  I hope it ends without incident.  overall, I'm impressed by the organization of this thing, the non-threatening manner of the speakers I heard, the diversity of the crowd, and the importance of the issue.  Many people are hurting.  We're at a tipping point.  I hope this opportunity doesn't pass us by. 

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