[Writer's note: I've been so far behind on my blogging. Things have been busy and time for research of my own has been rather limited. This week I have been completely engrossed in the Occupy Wall Street movement so I apologize for my uncommonly political blog, but I felt like I needed to say this.]
In a park who’s northwest corner is across the street from the World Trade Center site (or as we know it now commonly, Ground Zero) a movement is taking hold. On September 17, 2011, a group of a few hundred organized in Zuccotti Park (formerly Liberty Plaza) to raise awareness of the corporate greed they (and many others) believe is running rampant in the large corporations and banks of the U.S. and to call President Obama to setup a commission that would end “the influence money has over representatives in Washington.”
A volunteer organizer, Bill Csapo, told a CBS Station that “I don’t think that anybody can look at the political and economic landscape we have now in Washington and not come to the conclusion that the system is broken. The main focus is the toxic and corrupting effect of unlimited money on the political situation, which would be called a Corporate-cracy, not a Democracy.”
The constant presence of police in events like this should go without saying. When a large group of angry people get together there are bound to be problems and while the group as a whole has remained peaceful, there have been moments of tension and arrests have been made. Marring it all though is the blatant police brutality and inexcusable use of excessive force when it has not been warranted. Videos of police beatings, dousing of a crowd (mostly female) with pepper spray and violent arrests have spread virally over the internet. To watch these videos it’s easy to forget that we’re not looking at a political uprising in Africa or the Arab nations but a movement on our own soil that is now sweeping the nation.
Splinter groups have sprung up in Washington D.C., New Jersey, San Francisco, Boston, Knoxville, Los Angeles, Chicago, Tampa, Connecticut and Idaho. What started as a few hundred people rallying in New York under their banner of general disgust for the entire financial system has grown into a national movement that eventually the news media are going to have to make note of. Thus far there has been little coverage on CNN aside from an interview in which the interviewer, preying on some of the less informed protesters asked pointedly slanted questions to illustrate that some of the group aren’t even sure what they’re protesting. The group has not made any single, concise demands other than to express their dissatisfaction with the system as a whole and their desire to see it changed.
Signs are being paraded through the streets bearing slogans such as “Tear down the Wall Street Greed”, “Stop the War on the Working Man” and “We are the 99 Percent”. The movement is as of today almost 3 weeks into an occupation that has been stated will last months. They have setup their own kitchen, library and even a newspaper for the movement. Having grown from a few hundred to estimates of 20,000 in New York alone it doesn’t appear it’s going anywhere and has only been fueled by the police intervention and violence.
We, as Mississippians, tend to be a bit detached from the goings-on of Washington and New York but we have to stand up and take notice. Whether you are for or against the Occupy Wall Street movement is irrelevant. What is relevant is that you take an active interest in where your tax dollars go and what we support. Get involved in local politics, get involved in your community, have an opinion, understand how things are done. These are my calls to action. If a group of a few hundred in a city the size of New York can spark a national movement, what can a handful of people in any given Mississippi town do if they are motivated and dedicated to seeing real, positive changes in their own communities? I love this state and I love living in Clarksdale, MS. I moved back here because I believe in us and I believe in what we can be. This is my call to arms for everyone to get involved if only by being informed.