Monday 10/17 This series began yesterday, and will continue daily:
Food was being prepared, hip hop was playing and the feeling around the camp in the midst of Oakland among over a hundred tents was mellow. On the dockett today was a workshop on class, capitalism with the recently released hostages from Iran to speak at 5 PM; the workshops are for the purpose of educating the public to the positions and goals of the OWC in cities all over the US.
Berkeley met Oakland, Moveon met Unite Together and people on the streets and in the protest all moved forward together: Occupying Wall Street was full of young, old, students, workers, unemployed, men. women-all 2500 people who had taken themselves to the Encampment in Oakland. Labor unions, teachers and professionals were all out there as described by Norma L Myers, a friend and colleague, a member of East Bay Citizens Action. Marching down Telegraph, Norma wept from seeing the faces of the people who cheered on the protesters as they made their way to downtown Oakland. The Oakland Police were smiling and creating a friendly feeling around the protesters, no riot gear, no antagonism-the Mayor of Oakland’s blessing clearly a factor in their community support of people no longer waiting.
Who Are the Players?
Here’s what Paul Krugman of the New York Times, Suzie Orman and Nicholas Kristoff all see in this nationwide movement: People of huge diversity are calling out the government and have stopped waiting for the government to take action, no longer tolerating the inequity endured by so many of the unemployed, underemployed and financially strained families; their quiet desperation now replaced by an energy, a synergy of people coming forward. They have discovered that if they come together and stand together, they will make a difference. It’s pretty heady stuff to see on cable Russian TV yesterday a film of the OWS protesters nationwide being compared to that of Egypt, France, England.
Breaking up with your Bank
For those who arrived at the encampment in Oakland and Berkeley, what the Occupying Wall Street movement is about, Norma says, is to take back the power given to banks. Danny Glover spoke to the crowd: We are Together, we are the 99%. Like the chants from the Obama election days, We are the Ones. We don’t need heroes, we Are the Heroes, Glover shouted to the enthusiastic crowd. Obama’s election, he stated, taught us about our own power. For those living in over a hundred tents in what was come to be renamed the Oscar Grant Plaza at 12th and Broadway, healthcare for all, ending all wars, no money in the voting election process are all demands being made. They seek to change the relationship between banks and corporations and the 99%. They want banks to be community based, like local credit unions where the money stays in the community. They want those banks to lower house notes on property that has been devalued to significantly less value than the mortgages payment demands. And not incidentally to not have $5 fees at ATM’s. In other words to have the people have the vote rather than the banks changing deals at the expense of their customers. And another demand is that the government be more responsive to the people, the citizens rather than corporations. Around the Oakland Encampment, Norma says, the word around is “Break Up with Your Bank.” Change the relationship you have with the power entities is how Norma described the message and the tone of the protesters.
Where Is OWS Going?
To this questions, Norma said after a long pause: ” I don’t know and that’s what feels good, that’s what is exciting, because this all brings up new possibilities.” The whole experience was “magnificent” seeing the best in all the people around the experience of arriving at the Encampment, not we or them, but all of us can make this happen is how Norma describes it. Answers that have not been present with questions that are now being asked. Reminded us both of the saying that the level of thinking that created the problem is not where you will find new answers.
What people will be doing is participating in many ways daily. The people organizing the camp, are supported by people bringing food and supplies to the Encampment, bringing in clean clothes even; there is the feeling that is the OWS participants are in for the long haul. As Norma describes it, they are Woken Up people who are feeling more alive in having stepped out-away from the cable reports on congress, the President and unemployment and are feeling their power and their purpose in a national event that brings hope and promise in place of aapathy and empty promises.
TOMORROW: Visit to Berkeley’s Encampment site with Jim and Anna