OCCUPY WALL STREET! OCCUPY YOUR HEART!

 
“Banks can make or break an economy or country. The people want their bailout,” said a local “rank and file” labor organizer named Frank Olsen. “We are hoping more unions, students, civilians, citizens will dare to come down to support, gather and stand together,” he said. “United we stand, divided we die.”... read more from Pryia Reddy

Only a week or so since September 11th, a time when New Yorkers remember terror and loss, new seeds were being planted in the rubble of yesterday; seeds that promise for a better tomorrow. People from around the country and the world have come to Wall Street, to the heart of global Capitalism, to speak out against the current economic depression and “suffering and exploitation and inequality we experience,” said Brian Wilkerson of Los Angeles, who arrived for the “Occupy Wall Street” campaign. Like many cities, New York is also faced with severe cutbacks in vital social services such as education, health care, transportation, affordable housing and other basic human necessities & human rights.

“Banks can make or break an economy or country. The people want their bailout,” said a local “rank and file” labor organizer named Frank Olsen. “We are hoping more unions, students, civilians, citizens will dare to come down to support, gather and stand together,” he said. “United we stand, divided we die.”

The convergence or “protest” has been characterized as a “youth movement.” While the young people do seem acutely aware that their future is in peril, those gathered here in the little square on the corner of Broadway and Liberty street represent a wide range of ages and backgrounds. Some homemade signs said “that the very wealthy, top 1 percent control not just all the economy but also our government.” A petite blonde woman from North Carolina, who chose to remain unidentified, said “the rest of us, the other 99 percent, the working people of America who actually make this country run, are denied security and basic benefits and protections and asked to sacrifice our children to war, pollution, exploitation and ignorance.”

Though from diverse backgrounds, every one seemed to nurture a sincere genuine heart felt desire and determination to protect what they cherished most in life. “The people gathered here come from many different professions and wear many hats… teacher, mom, worker, student, artists, “said Vidhya Bharat of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. “Under the hats we wear,” she said, “are our minds, to use to think for ourselves and our hearts and a conscience we must listen to. We have a chance to be human despite whatever role we are asked to play in our daily lives.”

Decisions about how to organize were made by consensus allowing everyone who wanted to have a say, to speak. A woman busy organizing thousands of dollars in food donations that had poured in from around the world, said, “We can make important changes individually but together we have much more power!”

Among those taking a stand or a seat on the cold stone ground are speaking out to whomever cares to listen. “We were taught that only giant institutions have power and we should trust them but we have learned that we the people have power and can learn to trust each other and work together for shared goals to better our world, our lives and future,” said Justin Reimer from Boston.

“Relying on our elected officials has only led to disaster as a very dangerous situation threatens our well being and the very integrity of life on earth,” said 40 year old Alice Winters, a self described environmentalist from Seattle, Washington. “The stakes are higher than ever and the only people we can really turn to and trust is our friends, our neighbors, our fellow Americans, each other basically,” said a man who chose only to be identified as an “Iraq war vet.” A priest from Washington D.C, by the name of Father Gerardo said, “their presence is the presence of good amid evil unaccountable institutions and their presence is the presence of hope in a time of despair and denial and failure, a signal that we the people do have power and we must not rely on a corrupt government to represent our interests.”

“I’m so glad I overcame my initial reluctance for we share many concerns and hopes and could even be friends,” said Parker Bessie, of Brooklyn; a vocal smiling African American woman in her early twenties who engaged passers by about their interest in the gathering. “It was apparent that we could not do it alone and had to come together and learn to work together if we were going to be heard,” she added between conversing with those walking by.
Everyone had a personal story and reason for coming. Some jobs, loved ones to war or illness from lack of adequate health care or housing. Some had friends incarcerated in a massive prison system “which seems like the only “social welfare” the State is willing to invest in,” said an African American man who held a sign with a picture of Troy Davis, “about to be lynched in Georgia.”

“Human rights, a clean environment, social justice, equality, education instead of ignorance,” said Lisa Andrews of Queens, New York when asked “why are you here, what do you care about?” Andrews added, “I felt a lot of isolation and hopelessness before I came here and talked to people.” “Only hours ago I was a cynic” said Anthony D. a photographer from the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Protesters today were arrested for putting up tents to weather the rain. The rain promises to come back stronger as is does when the season turns from summer to fall. “People should be calling up Mayor Bloomberg’s office in disgust for the intolerance and disrespect of free speech and dissent as well as the budget cuts killing our city, cuts made by the rich for the rich. Where is the democracy described in the U.S Constitution of the people for the people,” said one outraged activist, who asked to not be named. “Why is an NYPD Counter Terrorism truck suddenly deployed here?” she asked. “Is it to intimidate us? Are we supposed to feel scared? I hope the Counter Terrorism truck finds those responsible for the economic and social terrorism being committed for profit and greed,” she added shivering slightly as curious passersby stopped to chat.

“We are assembled because we need to assemble, we have freedom of assembly and speech… which is only as meaningful to the extent we use our freedoms,” said Anna Maria Valentino of Washington Heights. “We New Yorkers must be good hosts to this revolution… or whatever this is, on our doorstep.”

“If we here are able to maintain a presence, the voice of the working poor, the homeless, those suffering from severe budget cuts to social services in our very own city… may be heard at last,” said Valentino.

Perhaps “love they neighbor as thyself” is a good idea as ever. Not allowed to pitch their tents, I wondered how they would stay warm. They had at least warmed my heart and rekindled hope that together we could make a difference in a vital and dangerous time for not only America but human kind in an age of potential nuclear catastrophe, global poverty and ecological devastation. Though not just a “youth movement” perhaps it was easier for younger people to bear the chilly September night. They were not just “occupying Wall St.” but our planet in peril. I walked away knowing that we must occupy our own hearts and minds not with fear but with love, courage and inspiration.
Close to Liberty Street is the old Statue of Liberty with the famous inscription, “A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame 
Is the imprisoned lightning, "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she 
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, 
 Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 
 The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 
 Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, 
 I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Will New York indeed allowed to “huddled masses” to continue to protest the current “wretched refuse” and “storied pomp” that governs our city, our economy, our government, our Congress and our media and air waves which refuses to give the American people a voice? Could we instead open our doors, our hearts to the incredible courage, intelligence, creativity and passion that has breathed new life in our town? When will at long last we breathe free?
There promises to be more rain as the “homeless, tempest-tossed” continue to hold their ground on Liberty Street. Indeed, there is a gathering storm, as a massive outrage and awakening spreads across America like it has across the world.

homepage:: http://nyc.indymedia.org/ read more: http://nyc.indymedia.org/or/2011/09/116185.html

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