Thursday, October 6, 2011

Another day, another dol -- protest.

Heard of the Occupy Wall Street movement? If you haven't, then please: slap yourself. Feel ashamed. Go open a newspaper. Or watch TV. Or jump online (I recommend the New York Times).

Occupy Wall Street (or OWS) refers to a gaggle (a very large gaggle) of people who have gathered in New York to protest...corporatism? Greed? Lobbyists? Trash in the streets? Juice boxes with chemicals in them that we serve to our kids? The movement seems to encompass a lot, and means something slightly different to each protestor. One op-ed I read criticized this very aspect of the movement, calling it "happily incoherent."

Well, this happily incoherent protest hit my city this week. Today a rally gathered in Freedom Plaza (echoes of Tahrir Square anyone? [Tahrir means freedom in Arabic...]) to protest militarism and corporatism. From the research I've done, it sounds like this protest has been on the books since April, and the simultaneous movement in New York was a happy coincidence. So the movement here used the momentum of Occupy Wall Street to become OccupyDC.

I was at work most of the day, but I Livestreamed the events so I could watch real-time from my desk. I also logged into my dusty and mostly inactive Twitter account to keep track of people's Tweets and pictures.

It seemed like quite a few turned out for OccupyDC. Twitter (that oh-so-accurate little bird) used figures anywhere from 500 to 3000 people. Not so sure about that last one...

The DC movement is quite a bit more organized than OWS. They have a website and a list of goals, which is more than OWS has. But don't worry; this doesn't prevent these protestors from being angry and frothing.

Unfortunately, from what I heard and saw from the Livestream, OccupyDC seemed to be run by vehement anti-war protestors (by "vehement" I mean fist-shaking, spittle-flying, cursing and fire-and-brimstone-raining men in whiskers) and hippies with drums.  A major slogan for both the NY and DC movements has been, "We are the other 99 percent" -- a direct jab at the wealthiest top 1 percent of America, who are perceived to be receiving all the benefits of society. Well, from what I saw, their "99 percent" didn't include me.

I read another interesting article that talks about how the OWS movement needs to match the faces to their message. If OWS says it represents middle America, then it needs to actually be composed of middle Americans. Hippies and anarchists won't cut it. The article went on to explain how OWS could learn from the Tea Party. Now, I have my problems with the Tea Party too, but you can't deny they've been effective in getting their message out.

OccupyDC eventually marched from Freedom Plaza to MacPherson Square on K Street, in order to protest lobbyists and corporatism more directly. The K St. corridor is a major business and lobbyist district of DC. Actually, my office is on K St, and I walked past a group of protestors when I left work early today.

Part of me, the part of me that sympathizes with the notion that there are a few things wrong in America, wanted to go over and say hi, maybe talk about the different negative circumstances of our lives and why we were upset about it.

But then I kept on walking. I was late for a job interview.


  1. Irony. You're good at that. :)

  2. Got a good laugh out of Twitter estimating 500-3000 people at the protest.


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