CHARLOTTE – The Occupy Wall Street movement has materialized in zombified form near the venues of the Democratic National Convention. In Marshall Park, a leafy city property complete with a shallow pond, a camp of approximately 50 tents has sprung up in typical Occupy fashion. It’s not as developed as some of the camps that appeared during the “American Autumn” but its occupants are cantankerous and disappointed with President Obama, much as they were almost a year ago.
When I visited their encampment, they were mustering for a march that focused on Bradley Manning and unmanned drone strikes. The Occupiers were maneuvering a close to life-sized replica of an unmanned drone that they would later parade through the police-lined streets like the statue of a saint on a Catholic feast day.
"People like Obama garnered support from a lot of people when he was running. Once he got into office he basically turned his back on the working class. He said he was gonna end the wars, he escalated the war in Afghanistan, he continued use of mercenaries in Iraq, he said he was gonna close down Gitmo. He hasn’t done that,” said Travis Cummins, 27, of Mobile, Alabama.
Cummins, wearing a “Can’t Have Capitalism Without Racism” button, said that he definitely would not vote for Obama in the fall because he is a “murderer.” Alternatives like Green Party candidate Jill Stein or Libertarian Gary Johnson were out of the question because they still support capitalism.
“I think capitalism is the crisis, is the problem,” he said.
Obama supporters-turned-Occupiers feel like like they were sold a lemon.
“We thought we were getting the anti-Bush and instead he’s gone ahead and put forward many of Bush’s policies,” said Michael Glaizer, 27, of Chicago.
Glaizer was such a big Obama fan that he volunteered on his 2004 U.S. Senate campaign and even heckled his then opponent, Republican Alan Keyes, during his concession speech.
“He said he was not gonna deal with state sovereignty and now he’s cracking down on (medical marijuana) like crazy. He wants to pass the dream act and then he deports all these people,” he said, noting he’ll probably support Vermin Supreme in the fall elections.
As the march started, several hundred protesters started chanting “Arrest Barack, Free Manning!”
Occupy supporters and California delegates Chris Robson and Chris Duvali looked on from behind the police barricades, taking pictures and cheering them on.
"When the Occupy movement was originally established it was ‘OK, there’s a separation of class.’ What we need to do is inform these Occupiers that the Democratic Party is all about investing in every class, we don’t segregate,” said Duvali.
Robson wasn’t too thrilled about the idea of some of the Occupiers not voting for Obama in November.
“We think everybody should vote for the president but if they choose not to that’s their right. It’s not like Australia where they’re required to vote, which I personally believe. I think you should require people to vote,” he said.