On September 17, I marched through New York City’s Financial District with about 1000 other people. It was the first day of what has now become known as the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, and I was there to protest the undue amount of influence that corporations have on our political system. It didn’t seem right to me that the people who were most responsible for our economic crisis were making as much money as ever while the middle class saw its prospects dwindle every day. It also didn’t seem right to me that so few people had come out to Wall Street to join the protests. Where were the students whose opportunities looked so bleak? Where were the unions whose labor rights were constantly under attack?
Fast-forward two weeks and Occupy Wall Street was on the tip of everybody’s tongue. Pundits were talking about it, politicians were talking about it but, most importantly, my fellow students were talking about it. The internet was buzzing with articles about a big labor/student solidarity protest that was planned for Wednesday, October 5. At the New School, where I am a student, there were signs all over campus calling for a walkout on the day of the march. As far as I could tell, everyone was planning on going. You would have a harder time finding kids who didn’t intend to walk out on October 5th.
Just when everyone thought they were going to be sticking it to the man, the man decided to join us. On Tuesday, October 4th the New School faculty released a statement in support of the walkout and most of them cancelled or rescheduled class so none of the students would fall behind. Many of the professors even declared their intention to join the protests in solidarity with students, labor unions and the rest of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
At 3:30pm on October 5th, hundreds of students and teachers gathered in a courtyard on campus to make signs, trade tactics and prepare for the walkout. At 4pm we left the school and marched down 5th Avenue to Washington Square Park, where we met up with students from NYU, Columbia and CUNY before heading down Lafayette Street to join the labor unions at Foley Square. It was an amazing thing to see a couple thousand students and teachers taking to the streets in solidarity while the police tried, with little success, to force us all on to the sidewalks.
When we finally got to Foley Square thousands of people cheered our arrival. Students and labor were joining forces once again to demand justice and fight for a better society. As a brass band began to play I stood on a bench and watched the crowd grow larger and larger. It became clear to me then that this was all just the beginning. A new movement was coming into being and I was happy to be a part of it.