When I was in New York, I headed over to Wall Street to see the anti-corporate greed protest that’s been going on for a while there now. There were colorful banners denouncing everything from racism to sexism and hundreds of people with their faces painted white with grey blotched eyes and red trickling down their mouth, stumbling around as if unconscious. They were supposed to look like the “corporate zombies” many protesters think are destroying the United States.
During the day, people were eating, hanging out, some were snoozing in sleeping bags. There were lectures, like one on how to avoid getting arrested by the police. Organizers were handing out free pizza and sandwiches, donated by the public. At night, the atmosphere felt a bit more electric with a lot of young people talking politics and hollering out their frustrations and hopes for the future.
The protests have also hit the punk rock music scene. I went to a Patti Smith concert where she dedicated a song of hers called “People Have the Power” to the “Occupy” movement. The whole audience stood up and started pumping their fists in the air singing, “The people rule! The people rule!” I’m sorry to say photography wasn’t allowed inside.
But I’ve also heard a lot of dismissive or outright angry comments about the protests, comments like “Get a job!” I spoke to one IT consultant called Eric who said he would like to support the movement but “big corporations” pay him for his work and he would be worried about supporting a movement that seems to denounce them.
Since New York, I’ve also stopped by the “Occupy” protests in Philadelphia, Boston, Detroit, and Chicago. Unlike in New York, a lot of other protests have been allowed to set up tents. Occupy Boston had a health center, library, a relaxation tent, and they’re growing organic vegetables. They seemed intent on staying for the long haul.