Notes from the Front ~ OccupiedWallStreet

The year is winding down, yet, there is a grassroots movement just beginning to take hold in this glorious USA. Its called OccupiedWallStreet!!

A dear family friend who I grew up with, a protester from back in the 1970’s, called me the other day to share his experienc when he visited Wall Street. I asked him to please write about it for me so that I can share it here with others.

So, here is his words: by Pat Pelosi, Bronx New York ::

 

What’s going on down at Wall Street?

 

While I had some vague notion of the events occurring near Wall Street, my interest remained casual until I saw the police brutality visited upon the intrepid souls who had the nerve to exercise their right to freely speak. Imagine, speaking truth to power! What nerve! And near the sacred citadel of Mammon no less!

 

This was before the establishment press deigned to report on this gathering of rabble, so I trekked downtown from my Bronx homestead to check it out. Having served my country as a foot-soldier in the anti-Vietnam war effort, I felt some inexplicit affinity with these troublemakers.

 

But since these dissenters were predominately young people I was unsure of what commonality I might find with them. Would I be delighted or dismayed by these rebels, some of whom appeared youthful enough to be my grandkids?

 

My initial visit to the encampment at Zuccotti Park was on September 29th, twelve days after its’ founding. I felt a bit tense since the police had the place surrounded.

 

Yet the park remained serene despite the heavy police presence. An almost zen-like tranquility reigned inside this space, notwithstanding the unspoken threat of more police violence.

 

I saw innumerable variations on the same theme — economic justice as a reasonable demand – presented in ways traditional and in ways slightly profane.

 

There were homemade signs promoting a mosaic of causes: some bashed Wall Street excesses, others decried the buying and peddling of influence, some called for an end to war, defunding the war machine, an equitable tax system, the abolishment of capital punishment etc.

 

The message was that people are more important than property; their rights are inalienable and cannot be abrogated by corporations or governments. 

 

I met a recent college graduate burdened with debt and with no job prospects.

 

“I want my future back” read his placard. I spoke to a fellow who was my age, a Navy veteran whose service had turned him into a progressive. A woman from Wisconsin gave me a big hug when I described the mostly young protesters as “my children.”

 

There were several middle-aged union members present, leading the way for their timid union leadership. I spoke to an ex-teacher from Washington D.C. who left the profession due to the climate of fear and intimidation imposed from above.

 

Mario, who arrived from Cuba in a small boat thirty years ago, came to show his support for the ideas of economic justice and political transparency, because “In this country I can say what I think”.

 

This is a real grass-roots movement. 

 

Yet there is a no lack of organization in the park. There is a kitchen stocked with donated food and a comfort station where donated blankets, sweaters, and sleeping bags are available for the asking. There is even a library! God bless literacy.

 

I was somewhat surprised by the level of discipline displayed by the protesters. There was no drinking of alcohol, no smoking of forbidden substances. They know that NYPD has planted undercover agents in their midst. They know that their powerful opponents will seize upon any misstep as a pretext to trivialize their movement.

 

These folks are very serious about their movement. One must be serious to spend day after day in a park, subject to the vagaries of Mother Nature. Think torrential rain, chill temperatures and a host of other discomforts. 

 

The participants I spoke with gave passionate and eloquent explanations on their positions and ably defended these positions when challenged. These folks are aware of the threats posed by a dysfunctional government corrupted by big money, by an economic system rigged to favor the most fortunate, by the war on the middle class, by the denial of science, by a state of perpetual war, by the repudiation of the Geneva Convention and by the erosion of citizens’ rights here at home.

Another wonderful aspect of this movement is the idea that consensus matters; decisions are made not by leaders but by the group as a whole. And since there is no hierarchy the movement can sustain itself despite the losses inflicted by the multitude of arrests that have taken place.

 

Unless you are a member of the top 1% that controls such a disproportionate amount of this country’s wealth, and therefore controls the political process, it is in your self-interest to support this movement.

 

Pat J. Pelosi ~Teacher, Bronx NY, Oct 2011