A Tour of Occupy Wall Street

MarkKlein80.jpgBy Mark Klein, SEIU Local 721 Secure Retirement Coordinator
 
I just returned from an inspirational vacation. On October 17 I took a subway from Harlem to Zuccotti Park in New York City  - home of Occupy Wall Street.  That day happened to be the one-month anniversary of the occupation by "the 99%."  In just one month, a spontaneous demonstration against criminal Wall Street greed has evolved into a global movement for economic justice.

As the pictures show, a quick stroll around the area is a march straight into history. Ground Zero is a block away. Federal Hall, where George Washington was inaugurated President, is just a block in the other direction. Trinity Church, which was the base of the pro-British colonists during the Revolutionary War, is across the street. The New York Stock Exchange is within a block. The headquarters of many of the "too-big-to-fail" firms and banks that wrecked the global economy surround the 33,000 square foot park.

These pictures of the signs, banners, marches, tables, tarps, cops, kids, seniors and others of all ethnicities packed into that one square practically explode with life - a testament to the vibrancy, dynamism, commitment and passion of the souls who are making history every day.

Behind the pictures, what looks like chaos is, on closer examination, organic and organized. There are daily meetings of various issue committees. Each day a direct action is taken. Donated food and clothing is freely and fairly distributed. The occupation has its own library, press area, silkscreen press, cell phone charging table, homegrown security, union table, "free empathy" area and issue tables dealing with war, climate change and more.

Critics who complain that there isn't a coherent message or specific list of demands aren't listening. The very slogan "We are the 99%" confronts the fact that the top 1% control 42% of America's wealth. Before September 17, how many news stories did you see about income inequality in America? But now the media is filled with stories on those issues. Our own efforts - Fight for a Fair Economy, Good Jobs L.A., Make the Banks Pay - are energized and informed by Occupy Wall Street.

That's right. 3,000 miles away from Occupy Wall Street, we should feel inspired by our brothers. And yet, we can't rely on them. We need to bear the mantle of this cause and carry it forward. That's why I'll be marching, in my purple shirt and OWS buttons, on November 9, when thousands of SEIU members will converge on downtown LA to deliver our message to the banks: you robbed us. You got bailed out. Now you owe us.

From Zuccotti Park to California Plaza, this is what democracy looks like.

Watch a slideshow of Occupy Wall Street below.
 

Leave a comment