If you’ve tuned in to just about any news source in the past few weeks, you’ve undoubtedly heard rumblings about protesters taking to the streets of Lower Manhattan, to voice their opposition to corporate greed. Bolstered by social networking, alternative media, and a progressive network of support, the “Occupy Movement” is rapidly spreading throughout the United States. This past weekend saw protests from large cities like Chicago and Los Angeles, to smaller communities such as Dayton, OH. As of today, 259 cities in all 50 states plan to have demonstrations in support of the Occupy Movement, with more unions and civic groups joining their ranks daily. Which begs the question, could this be the birth pangs of a large progressive movement akin to the Tea Party? I decided to make my way to Zucotti Park this past weekend to find out.
It was a glib looking day for a protest, but the participants were anything but. As we arrived at the park, we were greeted by people handing out copies of the “Occupied Wall Street Journal”, a clever device reminiscent of the “Iraq War Ends” New York Times spoof in 2008. The mood in the small park was uplifting, as people were sharing food and having casual conversations with those on the sidelines. As we moved toward the Brooklyn Bridge, drawn to the distant voices of chanting, the crowd began to swell. A police barricade was blocking the bridge entrance, where about 30 police officers stood talking amongst themselves and having a laugh. This was of course after the first group of protesters were let onto the bridge, and subsequently arrested by the NYPD to the tune of 700 people. Realizing the main entrance was no longer an option, some leading the protest decided to march in search of alternative route, only to be met with heavy rain and falling temperatures. With an alternative plan felled, the group took shelter in a nearby tunnel, and held an impromptu meeting to decide where to march next.
This is where my group departed due to the cold and rain (and not having the foresight to being umbrellas). Funding Exchange stands with the Occupy Movement, and has established a Rapid Response fund to provide quick and immediate support to the protesters. Click here to donate.
For more information about Occupy Wall Street, including a list of grievances and upcoming events, please visit occupywallst.org