I was in Long Island, New York this past weekend. On Saturday, I saw a group of about fifty protesters in Sag Harbor, a small peaceful, idyllic town in the Hamptons. This was a more affluent-looking group. There were young people there, but most of the demonstrators were in their forties, fifties and sixties. They were well groomed, slightly stoic, and seemed like the kind of people who would never spend the night in a public park. There was no music or dancing, but this too was part of the Occupy Movement.
The contrast between the mostly young protesters in lower Manhattan and their older counterparts in the Hamptons illustrates the potential power of the Occupy Movement. The two groups have few things in common. But, both groups have joined a movement protesting big business’ usurpation of economic and political power. It is not likely that the two groups would agree on many social or political issues, but big business has adversely impacted the lives of the members of both groups. This is the focus of the Occupy Movement. This is what we all have in common. The diversity and unity within the 99% is the source of its potential power. As dre cumming’s October 17th blog demonstrates, the occupiers have in fact articulated an agenda that focuses on economic injustice. It is true that there are people in the crowds that have gathered around the world in the past four weeks who lack focus or direction. Steve Ramirez describes this problem in his October 16th post. Some denounce capitalism and call for communism. Others protest racial injustice in the criminal justice system. But these extreme protesters do not speak for the Occupy Movement. I suppose that my biggest criticism of the Movement is that they may be too welcoming. They don’t want to deny a voice to anyone who feels disenchanted. They want everyone to speak. And this makes the Movement look as though it lacks direction.
The iconic sculpture of the Charging Bull of Wall Street sits a few blocks south of Zuccotti Park. After leaving the park on October 9th, we drove past the sculpture. I believe New York City officials were concerned that demonstrators would deface the sculpture so they had it enclosed in a fence and guarded by a police officer. I stopped and took the picture you see in this post of the barricaded bull. I found it disconcerting that the city decided to spend money to protect a sculpture from peaceful demonstrators. And, the symbolism is striking. Our economic future is corralled and stalled– just like The Wall Street Bull.