I have been pretty critical of the of the Occupy Wall Street movement. You can find my published thoughts on the topic here and here.
Standing outside the library the other night I was baffled as to why there were a bunch of helicopters hovering around my neighborhood. When I went inside and checked the news it was a bit unclear what was going on but it seemed like it had something to do with the occupy protesters. The news being unhelpful I went straight to twitter, immediately I was able to see the commotion was because thousands of occupy protesters were crossing the Brooklyn Bridge and assembling in Cadman Plaza Park. I did a double take; the bridge leads right past my school. In fact the park that the protesters were gathering in is across the street, I could see it from where I was sitting out the library window.
I'm in law school and certainly don't have free time to sit in a park with a bunch of protesters handing out free socialist news letters, calling for anarchy or even just to hold a sign with a cleaver slogan on it; so I haven’t made it down to Zuccotti Park. How could I pass up checking out a movement that I have been so critical of being across the street? I packed up my things in the library as quickly as I could and went home to get my camera and I was off. The closer and closer I got to the park the more and more cops I saw, many in riot gear. It seems that the cops in my neighborhood were ready for anything.
When I finally got there I happened upon a drum circle. The bane of my existence. Nothing says don’t take me seriously like standing in a circle banging on a drum all day. But I have to say it created a festive mood as everyone was disembarking from the bridge on the path that leads into the park. People were laughing joking singing and chanting, waving flags, everyone was in high spirits. I took some pictures and then went on to the General Assembly meeting that the protesters were holding by the WWII monument in the park. A huge monumental structure straight out of lord of the rings, you know where there’s the statues of the giant kings, it’s kinda like that. (for a photo gallery of the night at SensibleReason.comclick here)
The following video is one of many that I took that night. While many of the speakers are clearly on message some are not. Some of the "non leaders" leading the "leaderless" protest are addressing many of the same concerns that I have with the protest itself. They encourage the protesters to educate themselves. This of course is not a selfless call to bring people out of ignorance but the hope that when protesters are interviewed by the media, the movement can be portrayed as knowing what its fighting for. They encourage the protesters to clean up after themselves. An obvious reference to the mess left at Zuccotti Park after the protesters were cleared out. This video is unedited, I have a bunch more but this is the largest chunk I have of people speaking to the crowd. While I am still critical of OWS I do want many of the same things they want so I'll check back in at a later date and see where they are at that point. Please watch this video and make up your own mind about the protesters and the movement in general. This is the heart of movement, an open forum where anyone can speak about anything.