Last Wednesday, there was a demonstration on my campus in support of the Occupy Boston, and by extension the Occupy Wall Street, movement. There were about thirty people holding signs and shouting slogans. Police officers stood by in case the demonstration should turn violent. It had all of the necessary parts of a peaceful demonstration. Yet it felt like something was missing. There was no spirit. Everyone was gathered and shouting, but the words they were saying had no meaning. What did a bunch of overprivileged college kids know about being the other 99%? Clearly they are not suffering in these times. Upon seeing this, I decided that I had to see the occupation on Dewey Square.
I had to see the occupation for myself in order to better understand it. I had to see the other 99% in action to see if it was worth their time and effort. After all, what is the use of protesting if your heart is not in it?
So a few friends and I took the train to Dewey Square to see what it was all about.
I’m not sure what I was expecting. All I can say is that I felt a little disappointed when I first got out there. After all, there was only a bunch of tents. It looked like a refugee camp. But after walking around a little and talking to some of the people, I came to understand what they were doing.
One thing I asked every person I spoke with was what they wanted to see accomplished. And while there was some variation in their answers, one thing they all explicitly said was that they wanted to cause awareness. They wanted people to see the plight and struggle of the common man. One of the people I spoke with, let’s call her B, made the point that the news only focuses on the financial struggles of businesses and governments, that they ignore regular people. I couldn’t agree more.
But in the same vein, there were many demands that were entirely unrealistic. Too many things are too entrenched in our system for it to go anywhere, like the federal reserve, which one protester said he wanted to see abolished.
There was definitely a sense of unity in the Occupy Boston camp, however disconnected each individual protester’s worldview was. I saw it in those who were working the food tent, serving everyone a free warm meal. I saw it in the people wandering the tents, asking if they want somebody to sponsor them. I saw it in every mic check that echoed through the camp. This was definitely something different from what I saw on my college campus. This had soul and spirit.
And when I saw the crowd marching down the street with their signs, stopping traffic as they weaved through the cars, I felt a sense of hope. As I watched the protestors collect in front of the Boston Federal Reserve building and shout and wave their signs and carry on, I knew that these people were the real deal, that they were mad as hell and weren’t going to take it anymore.
But the movement needs to stay strong. On my visit on Friday, another question I asked everyone was what the relationship with the police was like. They had nothing but good things to say. They said that they were mutually respectful of one another and that they were doing as best as they can not to step on eachother’s toes.
But I’ve read on the reddits today that Occupy Boston, along with several of the other Occupy movements, have been raided by police in full riot gear. They are trying to squash the movement under their boot heel. Seven HUNDRED people were arrested in New York two weeks ago.
We are at a cusp. Now is the time where we put our money where our mouth is. Now is the time where we show them that we will not be ignored, bullied, or beaten into doing what we do not feel is right. If the people do not stand up for themselves now, they never will.
Speak now or be spoken for.
Stand up now or remain on your knees forever.