Occupy Movement

Posted November 1st, 2011 at 2:53 pm (UTC-4)

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.

Occupy Boston protesters have set up a tent village

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.

3 responses to “Occupy Movement”

  1. Even our small city of Charlottesville, Virginia has an Occupy tent city under the watchful eye of General Robert E Lee’s statue near the downtown mall. But then this is the city where we have the “Freedom Wall” and free speech is celebrated before every city council meeting no matter what people have to say. What I learned from our Cairo exchange with our Friendship Force, was the people wanted only three things: bread, freedom and social justice. When their cell phones usage was cut, that’s when the Revolution went into high gear. You have to love the United States of America warts and all for our love of free speech. Your blog is great!

  2. tland says:

    Dear Willow,

    I love everything about Charlottesville except one thing. It is such a distinctive community for reasons that you cite, and others, including its distinguished university from which my middle daughter received her Ph.D. But coming into it is one of those horrendous obstacle courses called a shopping strip, with innumerable traffic lights and interchangeable fast-food and retail joints that someone who had been blindfolded and plopped down in their midst could not tell you if he or she were in Casper, Wyoming; Gainesville, Florida; or any other moderate-sized city in America. What a poor introduction to such a remarkable city, which, for those who are traveling through, is hidden somewhere behind the surrounding trees. You’d think that a retail developer would, by now, have thought of a way to give SOME local flavor to these monotonous commercial arrays.


  3. Garrett says:

    I never went to America so I can’t say anything concerning your cities. But as a French, I would like to write some words about what’s happening now in France. Whereas my country is famous everywhere in the world for being used to having many frequent strikes during long days or weeks, it is curious to see that the occupy movement which began in Spain and then expanded all around the world is not strong at all in french cities. Some young people try to develop this movement but without any success. Maybe French people are understanding that important budget cuts are unavoidable…it is true that our social expanses are more numerous in France than in the US. But I especially think it is mainly due to the fact that the occupy movement is not coherent enough, their goals are not the same so…how could they reach their purposes?
    Thanks a lot for your intersting posts!

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Ted Landphair


This is a far-ranging exploration of American life by a veteran Voice of America “Americana” reporter and essayist.

Ted writes about the thousands of places he has visited and written about as a broadcaster and book author. Ted Landphair’s America often showcases the work of his wife and traveling companion, renowned American photographer Carol M. Highsmith.

Ted welcomes feedback, questions, and ideas. View Ted’s profile. Watch a video about Ted and Carol by VOA’s Nico Colombant.

Photos by Carol M. Highsmith


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