It was only a matter of time and the local media is all abuzz. The too-white smiles and scared eyes of the local newscasters reporting live in front of a hostile crowd tell the tale. Tempers are high and people are nervous. Down at the center of it all, our downtown and “Occupy Grand Central”. A reluctant mayor, feeling the pressure given by downtown businesses concerned about the upcoming holiday season and the bottom line. Drew his line in the sand and called out a warning to the local occupiers. It was an ultimatum, really; Get out by midnight Saturday or else.
The protestors occupying two parks across the street from city hall have vowed to stay. They have sent out for reinforcements and witnesses from other occupy encampments in other cities. They are making homemade weapons and shields. They seem to be digging in and readying themselves for a fight.
The stage has been set. On one side; the occupiers. On the other; the establishment. Stuck in the middle; The people. The real 99%. Victims of circumstance. People from all walks of life. Very human signs of these hard times.
We decided to pay another visit before time ran out on our local occupy. So MM and I went down there on this very overcast Saturday morning.
We have been there before, earlier in the occupation. I expected much of the same. I could have not been more wrong. The tarps and the tents looked the same but that was about it. With the deadline looming; the people who could or would leave have left and what remain are the chronic homeless and mentally ill. And with them remain an unhealthy cesspool of waste and filth. And mud, a foul-smelling gunk all over. The stench is almost overpowering. Wet garbage and clothing strewn about. Food containers and human waste lie on the ground mixed with brilliant yellow autumn leaves. I almost gag. I want to leave. We go further in.
Gone is the D.J. and the music. Gone is the library and medical tent. The art tent is empty and the local radio station has withdrawn its booth. The food service has dwindled. The air of hopefulness is gone. The unity is gone. All that is left are the ugly remains.
The tattered would be heroes. Dirty, hungry and lost, smoking hand rolled cigarettes, huddled together, worn and wary. A spirited few cheer on the others. Pontificating and proclaiming to fight.
“This is my home.” Says a young man in a red cap.
His friend, the one with droopy tired eyes, calls for “warriors.”
A good Samaritan has brought in coffee and a brown-haired girl with big innocent eyes passes out brownies, she looks about 8 or 9. She is a sweet little thing and stands as a stark contrast to the mess around her. As does the teenage girl shivering in white shorts and flip-flops eating a glazed twist and savoring every bite. Her dirty face looks sad and alone, I wonder where she’ll go?
A despondent old man in a wheelchair sits forgotten and ignored, a scene erupts around him, involving a woman who is obviously distressed and upset. She is almost in tears as she begs and pleads with some occupiers to use their energy for good and leave peacefully. A small crowd has formed aligned against her. Her young daughter hides her face in her Mother’s warm and fashionable coat.
Cops stand on the corners. Many of them have donned medical type masks. I suppose to keep from getting sick. I feel sorry for them. They don’t want this. I wonder what will happen tonight. There is a certain queasy unease in the air that goes beyond the lack of sanitation. I can see it their faces and in the faces of the ones with nowhere to go. Those are the ones I feel for the most.
Others have come to witness this. People here and there, like MM and I. Some are taking pictures. Others have gathered at the parameters in twos and threes, whispering in an almost revered awe and shaking their heads in disgust. I see surprise in some eyes. I know the feeling. Whatever the dream, the dream is lying in a ditch by the side of the road. It’s tired and hungry and it gets the feeling that no one is listening.
Many hand-lettered signs have been left behind and many of these have valid messages. I think these people and many others in this country and really in the whole world feel they have no voice and that no one is listening. The world is going to hell and we know it and there is nothing we can do.
It seems hopeless. Our problems are so huge and all the occupying in the world won’t change that. It’s easy to sit here in my nice warm house tapping away on my nice white laptop and judge these people. It’s also just as easy to turn and look the other way. But it is history we are witnessing here, right or wrong, good or bad.
These people, those people….We the people. We are The People and we are all connected. Whatever happens to the least of us happens to us all. All 100%.
These problems are not going away. Whatever happens on the streets of my city tonight, will not change anything. It will only put an ugly face on a valid and much needed social movement.
….And as the rain begins and the darkness of night sets in across the city, I can’t help but wonder the outcome. The deadline has been set and we are all watching and waiting……
- Occupy What Next? (strawberryindigo.wordpress.com)
- We the People (strawberryindigo.wordpress.com)
- Protesters getting the boot; – Mayor Adams says the tent city is dangerous and must be taken down by midnight Saturday – Mayor Adams says the tent city is dangerous and must be taken down by midnight Saturday (bendbulletin.com)
- Occupy Standoff (strawberryindigo.wordpress.com)