Occupy Wall Street, A Lesson in DemocracyPolitics / US Politics Oct 19, 2011 - 01:17 AM GMT
First I’d like to start off saying that Saturday was one of the most invigorating and inspiring days of my life. I came back from NYC with hope that the young people of this country, with the help of some members of the older generations that care about the future of this country, have the will and the fortitude to sweep away the existing corrupt corporate fascist state that exists in this country today. It was such a whirlwind day that my narrative is unlikely to have much structure. I’ll just unleash everything I can remember.
The Quinn clan piled into our minivan at 7:40 am and headed to the Big Apple. We hopped onto the PA Turnpike and headed east to the NJ Turnpike north. One thing you realize as you travel this route is that the entire storyline about needing hundreds of billions for infrastructure jobs is a crock of shit. The entire length of both Turnpikes is under construction, with lane widening, new bridges, new overpasses, and road paving. They are even working on the weekends. Any new money designated for infrastructure jobs wouldn’t be spent for three years. You know you are getting close to NYC when you see the refineries spewing whatever from their smokestacks and the smell of rotten eggs permeates the atmosphere. It was a beautiful sunny day, but winds of 30 to 40 mph were expected in the afternoon. It was going to be a bad hair day for Avalon. We reached the Lincoln Tunnel in about 90 minutes.
My mind is constantly thinking about crazy stuff. As we sped through the EZ Pass lane (only $9.50 for the privelage of entering NYC – $12.00 without EZ Pass) and entered the tunnel, you realize how susceptible it is to a terrorist. If there truly are dangerous terrorist cells roaming our countrysides, they must realize the damage they could inflict by filling a van or vans full of explosives and stopping in the Lincoln Tunnel and detonating them. The economic damage caused by shutting down one or more access points to NYC would be devastating. And there is nothing in place from the NYPD to keep that from happening. But they can shoot down a plane.
We parked in the first parking lot we could find at 35th and 8th Ave. You too can park in NYC for the low low price of only $44. At least it was valet parking. I was confident no one would want to steal anything from our twelve year old minivan unless they wanted old water bottles, candy wrappers and what I like to call debris. We sauntered over to 7th Avenue and hailed a cab. It was a non-minivan variety, so I had to sit up front with the angry cab driver. Are there any non-Muslim cab drivers in NYC? I told him to head to the World Trade Center. I can’t help it, I just love cab rides in NYC. It’s like being on a thrill ride at an amusement park. Our silent, angry Muslim cab driver proceeded to try and reach the World Trade Center in record time by cutting off any car that dared cross his path. He veered from right to left, ignoring those pesky red lights and pedestrians. I did find myself applying the invisible brake on my side and let out an occassional gasp as he worked his magic. He pulled off the 30 block trip in 10 minutes for under $10. I was truly impressed.
As we headed off in the direction of the WTC site, my first impression of the atmosphere was one of stifling, overwhelming, intimidating police presence. A convoy of at least 10 NYPD vans sped past us. There were cop cars parked everywhere. There were groups of policemen on every corner. And this was a few blocks from the protest site. I saw multiple NYPD buses and joked to Avalon that they were to transport us to the jails when the protest really got going.
It wasn’t hard to find the new World Trade Center. It is soaring above all the surrounding buildings already. It is already magnificant and will truly be a wonder of the world when it is finished.I tip my hat to the construction workers doing the fantastic work on this majestic building. I wanted to see the memorial fountains and park, but you need tickets well in advance so they can herd you like sheep through the plaza. Why they block off view of the plaza with tarps is beyond me. We were just gawking at the new tower and walking along when we stumbled upon Zuccotti Park. It was 10:00 am and from a distance it looked like a very small boy scout camp site. Your first reaction is – Wow! This is really small. This can’t be the spear point of a revolution. I was ready to wade into the fray, but Avalon needed a coffee and had to go pee pee. There is a really nice Burger King on the same block. I got in line with the boys to get the coffee and a couple sausage biscuits while Avalon went upstairs to the ladies room. One problem. The Burger King had been overrun by protestors using their bathrooms. They had put the men’s room out of order, so there was a line of men and women for the one bathroom. Only people with a receipt were allowed to go pee pee. My phone was in my pocket and with the general noise level in NYC being set on loud, I didn’t hear it as she tried to get me to bring up our receipt. Somehow she was able to charm her way into the bathroom, and all was well. Below is the view from the Burger King. Note the funny looking white hand made paper thing shaped like a bullhorn. The NPD has a law against bullhorns in NYC (shocking!!!). The protestors built their own bullhorn to amplify their speeches.
Man Made Bullhorn
Now it was time to find out for ourselves what this was all about. The second thing you notice after the smallness of the park is the overwhelming police presence. The street to the left is occupied by at least 25 NYPD vehicles. There are literally hundreds of uniformed policemen surrounding the park. There are metal police crowd control barriers encircling the site, so all who enter or leave must go through a narrow space.
Avalon had her camera charged and ready to document the truth so we could put it on TBP. I had printed up five copies of my favorite Ron Paul quote to hold up in support of the movement.
“TRUTH IS TREASON IN AN EMPIRE OF LIES” – Ron Paul
We entered the park and I wanted Avalon to take a picture of me and the two boys holding up our signs. As she was taking the picture a middle aged lady and young guy saw the signs and loved the quote. They wanted pictures too. I gave them both copies of the sign. It was a good start to our OWS experience.
The site is dotted with tents, tarp and tables. There were sleeping bags with only feet sticking out. There were rubbermaid containers and trash bags. There was one tent with a sign saying it was his living room and please don’t take pictures. The site was NOT dirty, smelly or unsanitary. The vibe coming from this park was not hostile. It was welcoming. All points of view were allowed to be shared. I had my twelve and fourteen year old sons with me and never once felt threatened or unsafe. This is truly a peaceful demonstration of free speech. The descriptions of the people Occupying Wall Street by the MSM are blatantly false. It has absolutely nothing to do with the two establishment political parties. It is not a Democratic Tea Party. It isn’t the Republican neo-con version of the Tea Party either. But it does have the feel of the original Boston Tea Party, telling the authorities to stick it up their asses.
There are many different views being shared, but the prevailing message is that a few powerful men have corrupted our system and have looted the wealth of the hard working middle class. I saw no one representing the Free Shit Army looking for more handouts. From a demographic viewpoint, this protest is clearly being led by the Millenial Generation. There are no Boomers pulling the strings behind the scenes and calling the shots. George Soros and Jesse Jackson haven’t hijacked the agenda. I would estimate that 60% of the crowd were Millenials, with 20% Gen-X and 20% Baby Boomers. I would estimate that 75% of the crowd was white, with 15% hispanic and 10% black. The stereotypes being portrayed by the MSM get blown out of the water when you see for yourself. A young black guy with a NOBAMA shirt on marched by us holding an End the Fed sign. That was the last thing I thought I would see. Later in the day I was handed a Bernanke buck by a young black man as he described the evils of inflation and the Federal Reserve. Does that sound like what you are hearing on Fox News?
We slowly meandered through the park soaking in everything. There was a positive feeling as you walked among the protestors. It was invigorating to see democracy and free speech happening in the public square. These people in a few short weeks had created a community. They don’t all agree on the issues, but they are open to different points of view, while understanding who the enemy really is – the Wall Street bankers, Federal Reserve, politicians and mega-corporations. These people are here for the long haul. They have set up there own dining area and supporters from around the country are sending food.
The owner of the property and the City were ready to move the protestors so they could clean the park. The protestors jumped into action with their own Sanitation department and cleaned the park themselves.
We passed a Medical “center” were registered nurses provided any medical treatment needed by the protestors or visitors. This “revolution” which has spread across the country and around the globe is being turbo charged by social media, alternative media, and the internet. The mainstream media continues to misrepresent the movement because it is a threat to their corporate owners. There is no electricity or running water in the park. I saw a recharging station set up where a gas powered generator was being used to power multiple power strips. There were cell phones and computers plugged into the power strips to recharge so the protestors could continue to get the message and pictures out to the world.
There were areas where anyone could make their own sign. An older gentleman was manning a little contraption and making protest buttons at a pace of one every 10 seconds. Jimmy and Michael both got buttons and proudly displayed them on their shirts. The whole park had the feel of a festival. As you walked around you were anticipating seeing something new and unusual. To those who think it is just a disorganized mass of left wing hippies, you are badly mistaken. They have the week plotted out on a black board. They have working groups and protest activities planned.
We had been on-site for about an hour when we saw a group gathering to march somewhere. They had flags and began to circle the park chanting anti-bank slogans. They were headed for the banks. I learned later that some of these people were arrested as they occupied a Citibank branch and refused to yield. There was talk of a march on Times Square at 5:00 pm, but we figured it wouldn’t amount to much. The protestors seemed too few to cause much problem in Times Square.
As it approached 11:30 we needed to skeedadle. Avalon had booked ferry tickets to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island at noon. I was kind of bummed to leave so soon. I wasn’t sure if we’d make our way back to the park before heading to Times Square. We headed for Battery Park to catch our ferry. Along the way we passed the iconic Bull.
Even the damn bull is surrounded by police barriers. Are they worried someone is going to do some bull tipping? As you walk along the streets of Lower Manhattan you are struck by the hordes of Chinese and Japanese and Europeans in groups. They may be eating our lunch economically, but they sure love the glitz and glamour of NYC. Thank God Avalon booked the tickets in advance. It was a two hour wait if you didn’t reserve. We made it up to the processing center in 15 minutes. The winds had picked up to at least 30 mph and the NY Harbor was filled with white caps. Avalon has an irrational fear of water and drowning. The boys and I seize upon this fear to describe the potential capsizing of our ferry. And there is always – “The sea was angry that day Jerry, like an old man sending back soup at a deli.”
Eventually we were led into a huge white tent. Welcome to government drone overkill. We are tourists going to gawk at the Statue of Liberty and try to learn something about our heritage. They did the whole TSA routine on every tourist. Belts off, jewelry off, cell phones, wallets, keys all in a bin. Everyone through a metal detector. Agents questioning you. What a joke. What exactly is a terrorist going to do to the Statue of Liberty? If they aren’t going to pick an easy target like the Lincoln Tunnel, why would they try anything to a statue. This is just another example of government acting like they are protecting us from something, when there is nothing to be protected from. A couple terrorists could walk into Battery Park with a machine guns and take out a thousand people in five minutes.
In a few more minutes we were on our way. The ferry didn’t capsize. There is no more inspirational view than seeing the Statue of Liberty up close and personal.
We had visited the Statue of Liberty before, so we stayed onboard to Ellis Island. We walked through the museum exhibits and watched a movie describing the bravery and sacrifice that immigrants made to come to this country. The conditions that immigrants lived in at the turn of the century were beneath squalor. These immigrants built this country. They built the skyscrapers that dot the NYC skyline. They fought and died in WWI and WWII. They did the blue collar jobs that grew the GDP of this country. Many of the ancestors of these immigrants are the protestors occupying Zuccotti Park. The American Dream that sustained the new immigrants to this country has been destroyed by the greed and corruption of the bankers and CEOs living in the buildings built by those immigrants. It just so happened they were having an Alcatraz exhibit and we walked through. Alcatraz was shut down in 1963. In 1969 young Native Americans seized the island and occupied it for nineteen months, bringing publicity to the plight of American Indians. They accomplished their goal through peaceful protest and willingness to stick it out for almost two years. I thought it was an interesting lesson on a day when young occupiers on Wall Street are starting their second month of occupation. After doing an on-line search for my grandfather’s arrival at Ellis Island we headed back to NYC. The view heading back was even more spectacular.
Back on dry land we headed to the bastion of revolutionaries everywhere – T.G.I. Fridays. After a quick lunch (How about $19 for a cheeseburger? – No inflation my fat ass) we decided to go back to Zuccotti Park. We couldn’t get enough of this lesson in democracy. When we arrived it was bustling with activity. It was twice as crowded as it was at 10:00 am. We were drawn to a circle where a few guys were playing drums and bongos while three other guys were break dancing. They were extremely entertaining and got the crowd to chant ECONOMIC FREEDOM while they performed. I looked at the crowd. Young, old and in between all had smiles on their faces. The vibe of this park was about positive change, not the negativity you see from politicians and MSM pundits.
We again waded into the chaos to see what was happening. There were film crews and people being interviewed. There were many more signs and banners. The park is now a stop on the double decker tourist bus tours that criss cross the city. A double decker bus was stopped and the 95 Asian and 5 American tourists were snapping away with their cameras. The perception among many people, put there by the MSM, is that the young people in this park are dumb and lazy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many understand the true cause of our economic troubles and the never ending and accelerating debasement of our currency. The MSM wants the ignorant masses to think the people in this park hate capitalism and the rich. This is another false storyline fed to the sheeple. The people in this park KNOW we don’t have capitalism. We have a corporate/banking kleptocracy. I chatted with these two young guys. They would fit in perfectly on TBP.
The MSM want these protestors to fit into their preconceived ideological holes. Again, they are wrong. Is this guy a left winger? Is he a right winger? He’s neither. He understands both wings are corrupt. He knows the whole system is a sham. He knows who is responsible.
These people heard Romney say that corporations are people too. They get it. They know our politicians from both parties are captured by the mega-corporations and do their bidding. They know why the Federal Tax code is 60,000 pages. They know who contributes to Obama, Romney and the rest of the bought off hacks running this country. They know Perry and the rest of the fundamentalists are hypocrites. They know the system can’t be changed incrementally by electing the same people who put the system in place.
As we walked through the winding path in the park, I was handed materials from various occupants. One leaflet was titled “ARE YOU AN ANARCHIST?” After reading it, I’d have to say yes. I liked the quote at the end of the leaflet – “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” – Emma Goldman. There were some Chinese people protesting AGAINST the communist oppression in their country. We came upon an older gentleman named Harry Braun. He was giving a speech to anyone who would listen about convening a Constitutional Convention and implementing Article V of the Constitution to bypass Congress and the 35,000 lobbyists that control the agenda in Washington DC. All points of view were being broadcast in this town square.
The article continues here with many more images.
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By James Quinn
James Quinn is a senior director of strategic planning for a major university. James has held financial positions with a retailer, homebuilder and university in his 22-year career. Those positions included treasurer, controller, and head of strategic planning. He is married with three boys and is writing these articles because he cares about their future. He earned a BS in accounting from Drexel University and an MBA from Villanova University. He is a certified public accountant and a certified cash manager.
These articles reflect the personal views of James Quinn. They do not necessarily represent the views of his employer, and are not sponsored or endorsed by his employer.
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