From its infancy the occupy movement has run the gambit of highs and lows of the human experience. The movement started in New York as a protest against the unbalance of wealth in our society and it has grown and morphed and spread all over the country and the world.
A movement born out of frustrations brought on by hard economic times mixed with vanishing natural resources, dwindling opportunity and the remains of a system once created for the common good that is now corrupted by the few and the powerful who put profits over everything else.
The American dream is slipping through the fingers of many Americans. Our golden age is tarnishing. We the people have lost our way.
Image by merrick_monroe via Flickr
I believe this movement is only a beginning and it is a sign of more to come. The events of late have truly surprised me and have caused me to re-evaluate my feelings on the Occupy movement more than once.
I have always supported the ideals of the movement, in that there has never been any doubt in my mind. However, I have not always supported the means. This occupying has from day one struck me as unsustainable.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions and all the good reasons and high ideals cannot trump cold hard reality. These camps created by Occupy degraded into a health and safety hazard that cost our cities dearly at a time when city and state budgets are strained to the max. This occupying also cost the movement valuable credibility.
They showed why it is illegal for a group of people to take possession of a public park and just squat there indefinitely. No matter how worthy the cause, those ends do not justify that sort of means.
Image by K. Kendall via Flickr
In most places the cops have moved in and used a varying degree of force to retake the parks once occupied. Every city is different and in my city, to my surprise, it was relatively peaceful thanks to all involved. The local police showed uncommon restraint and the protestors themselves seemed to police themselves in many instances.
The crowd, estimated to be 2-3 thousand, gasped as a fiery projectile thrown into a row of mounted police injuring one of them and causing him to be taken away during the eviction last Saturday.
The perpetrator was quickly pointed out by the crowd and the man was promptly taken down and arrested. Then in a move that surprised me, the police backed off and allowed the protestors to form a drum circle in the middle of the street, dancers in the hundreds surrounded the circle, cheered on by the overwhelming number of spectators. A party atmosphere prevailed into the wee hours. There was a sense of unity shown that gave me a sense of long forgotten city pride.
I felt I had been a bit hasty in my predictions of doom and gloom but then I looked around and found the reaction in my city to be unusual.
Image by drburtoni via Flickr
The next day 50 people were arrested and the Occupy encampment was retaken by police. A handful of protestors remained and helped clean up the disgusting mucky mess left behind in the two city parks held hostage in this all too human drama. Many citizens came out to see the damage and confronted leftover protestors milling about It seemed not everyone was happy with all the mess and the cost of the occupy.
Heated debates sprung out on street corners. People that would have never spoken to each other before were voicing their varied but strong opinions, exchanging ideas and solutions. Citizens were taking to each other instead of just ignoring.
Image by snap turtle via Flickr
By Monday, a press conference was held by what serves as our local occupy leadership fronted by youngish woman in a bright red cap. She spoke eloquently as she demanded an apology from the mayor and the chief of police for the use of force during the eviction. Tears welled in the eyes of a nearby protestor as the woman in the red cap spoke of a member of their group, a sign language translator who had apparently been hurt in the scuffle and was now in a wheelchair.
Evidence is sketchy on this and I have this natural inclination to believe the protestors though I cannot say as I was not there. I have only seen what is claimed to be altered footage of the event.
When asked if they were planning on occupying any more parks, the spokesperson beamed a smile and said “no comment”. I had hoped for a sign of leadership or a clear focus from the group. They seem intent on continuing the movement and will not let anyone but themselves know exactly what they have planned.
On Tuesday, the protestors marched and invaded an upscale shopping mall. On Wednesday, they marched in solidarity with local university students protesting high tuition and an unfair treatment of school loans. Today is dubbed “N 17″ and a protest on the banks is planned. Events turn on a dime. Only time will tell how this all plays out and how history will view this phenomena.
A smart person once told me that revolutions can be messy and that all that mess makes people stand up and take notice. I have to agree.
It is prompting us, forcing us really to look at ourselves as a community of connected individuals who can all have a say in our collective future . This movement has opened a dialogue with ourselves, all 100% of us. It is a discussion that is long overdue and if we want any real and lasting change for the betterment of us all, we need to have it. If this movement has achieved anything it is this and it is the most essential.
Image by matthewvenn via Flickr
The Occupy movement has provided the spark. To succeed the spark must grow and for it to grow and become something formidable, it must kindle the fires by adding new converts with clearer heads who can focus the attention on key issues. For this movement to move it needs the help of everyone. It cannot afford to alienate. There are many problems and the protestors have every right to be angry, but their anger and a lack of clear focus hurts the very cause most they and I support so very much.