Occupy DC has some familiar faces if you ever saw a protest (or footage of one) from the Bush years.
Code Pink was there yesterday and the Raging Grannies; there were a few Ron Paul signs and a few more for Ending the Fed; some hooded, orange jumpsuit-clad Gitmo protesters, the obligatory slightly off-key marching band, and people excited to be out holding signs. Perhaps this is where the anti-war movement has been hiding.
These folks were not as inanely partisan as the poor bastards captured in Adam Kokesh's video from the beginnings of the DC movement, but they still can be summed up (to a great extent) by the fact that many of the thousand-odd marchers chanted "Shame! Shame! Shame!" as they passed PNC Bank, but not a peep when they passed the White house. They also chanted "Where are the jobs? Where are the jobs?" in front of the Chamber of Commerce. A speaker with a very quiet bullhorn declared they had in fact "shut down the Chamber of Commerce."
The initially anti-Bush, now interested in "stopping the crimes of this government" group World Can't Wait played a large part in the event. This 10-years-since-the-Afghan-invasion protest had been planned for months and some of the anti-war people said they were using the new Occupy movements as a media piggyback, but they seemed to be in support of "the 99" in general. Here's The Alyona Show interviewing one of the of the organizers of the more structured, anti-war events.
And here is a look at a few of the people we found occupying D.C.
Samantha Goldman, 24, a graduate student studying education, is from Philly. She was wearing a World Can't Wait shirt with a missile and the query, "Is it really okay when Obama does it?" She supports the Occupy movements, but "We have to think about 99 percent of the planet….[Americans] are the one percent in a certain way." And "the problem is capitalism and the solution is revolution….The U.S. needs, in order to stay the number one superpower, to take resources from all over the world." Her hoped-for, if far off, communist revolution would have to be "by force."
Andy Batcher, 30, a grad student studying in Vermont, who works with the NGO Nonviolence International, said "The country is dominated by corporate interests." He was passing out anti-war fliers for "something to do." "I think that there's a lot of voices that want to be heard," he said. Also "the same interests that are pursuing these multiple wars that we are in are connected to our financial system." Those interests, he said after some consideration, are "Profit. Profit maximization." Government and corporations are equally to blame for the state of the world, and it's "not a partisan thing." At least "the issues are not partisan"
Barry Freed, 22, wearing a classic Anonymous/Guy Fawkes mask, is a college graduate from Pennsylvania. He has
a job, and is "not a dirty hippie.
Freed is disgusted with the two party system.
I don't want the lesser of the two evils….I want to choose the right candidate who will steer the country in a direction that the masses want, instead of what two people want…We are one of the only democracies that has two parties and it divides our country in two.
He seemed to think of the Occupy movements as big conversations, which is why he was not worried about the lack of a coherent message. He has already attended some planning meetings for Occupy Harrisburg and intends to eventually get to Occupy Wall Street. "We are not a left Tea Party, we are not conservative. We are the middle," he said.
His official motivation, hence the sign in hand, was that he "wants to end the Fed." But he was glad to see other people out with their own messages. One solution for the troubles of the world could be a Fairness Doctine type rule, but for everyone, which would "allow everyone fair air time" because dissenting viewpoints are being "stifled by media and corporations."
Sherman Taylor, 28, was a foreman for Toll Brothers, a residential development company. He says speculators and the housing bubble led to him losing his job. And:
I'm here because of my fear for the wealthy….Are you familiar with Bastille day? The American revolution, the fall of Rome, the fall of China. Every single time the disparity becomes too great, the poor go after the rich….
America is "ten times overdue for a revolution" in the fashion advised by Thomas Jefferson, Taylor said. "We're still using the King's unit of measure! We haven't even gone metric! That shouldn't be that hard of a change!"
Taylor's revolution would look like "Socialism, a lot like socialism." He believes "housing is a human right, being fed is a human right, you have a right to a job for a wage that we can afford for ourselves and our offspring. We are not being afforded that right anymore."
Socialism is far away, though. We still have to get beyond "monetizing everything." A festival community in which "if you don't contribute, you get ostracized" is how that process might get started. When asked if he wanted to say anything else, Taylor said, "We have the technology, let's take care of everyone. Isn't that a nice sentiment to end on?"
As the report Nick Gillespie pointed to below said, most of these protesters were fairly cheerful, very keen on letting different voices be heard, all in the name of democracy. But that's been a part of left and anarchist movements for a long time. In my limited look at the protests, there were a few promising signs; the Obama love has grown at least a bit cold, there's opposition to war and empire. Lots of people are looking beyond the two-party system, but few–if any–are looking beyond the amount of power the U.S. government possess; they just want to spead that power around a whole lot more.
Check out Anthony L. Fisher and Reason.tv's great video from Occupy Wall Street, below:
Start your day with Reason. Get a daily brief of the most important stories and trends every weekday morning when you subscribe to Reason Roundup.