Wha? Where AM I?


Where am I?

I went to bed last night in the United States, but I think I woke up somewhere else.

When I went to bed, I was a law abiding, tax paying, overweight, middle aged teacher lady.  I believed in democracy and the rule of law.

But today is a new day.  A different day.

Today my sons are in New York City, back again with the Occupy Wall Street Movement.  If you read my work very often, you know that I am in full support of the movement.  I am a naive American, a student of history.  I believe that free speech and the right to peaceably assemble are part of the fabric of our nation, part of what all of those wars have supposedly been fought to defend.   So I am proud that my children dare to march and to stand up for what they believe.

I wasn’t too worried when I went to bed last night because my sons reassured me that they have no desire to be arrested (again). In my innocent little world of fantasy America, you see, that would mean that they could avoid arrest by following the requests of the police as they marched.

Today, though, oh dear. Today is a whole different reality.

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I am able to watch the events unfolding in New York City via “Livefeed”.  That means that a nice young man with a video camera is filming and giving commentary.

Its a good thing, too, because CNN is way too busy talking about Kate Middleton’s boobs to cover a big political protest in the financial capital of the world.

Anyway, I have been riveted to the computer screen all day, watching the marchers, listening to the chants and the music.   And I noticed a few disturbing things right away.

First off, I noticed that there are almost as many cops as marchers.  They are sure determined to protect the bankers from a group the press is calling “obsolete”!  There are barricades and barriers and motorcycles and horses and riot helmets everywhere.

Its scary.

And second of all, the “requests” that the police are making are nonsensical and nearly impossible to follow.  The marchers, as I watch them, are walking down a narrow street, under construction scaffolding, confined within endless rows of police barricades.  They are ALL on the sidewalk (that was the old police demand, “Stay on the sidewalk.”)  But now the police are yelling “Move to one side to let pedestrians pass.”  Huh. There are no pedestrians trying to come toward the march.  And the marchers are pedestrians, aren’t they? There is nowhere to move, unless they spill onto the street. Clearly the police know this.

I have been watching dozens of police filling the streets, often four and five abreast. As they literally fill the street, they are yelling through  bullhorns that the marchers must not “Block vehicular traffic.”  Um….?

The cops have stopped, redirected and turned the march three times now as I have been watching.  The protestors have complied, for the most part, but they are being prevented from even walking past the New York Stock Exchange. How is this right?

I have seen one young man arrested for riding a bike on the street (scuse me?), one for crossing at an intersection, and five for sitting on the sidewalk. Several others were presumably arrested for stepping off the sidewalk.

Now, let me be honest and clear, OK?  The police are not being angry, or violent in any way.  They have been firm, but no one has been hurt. The marchers, too, are calm, not angry, completely non-violent.

But let me ask you this: What does it mean that we can no longer protest, peaceably assemble, seek a redress of our grievances unless we do it exactly where and when those in power tell us to?  What does it mean that the job of the New York City police department is to prevent the bankers and money men from even having to see us or hear the voices of the American people?

Where the hell am I?

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Writer’s note: as I was watching the live feed about an hour ago, listening to the police on those bullhorns and watching the crowd try to squeeze itself into ever narrower places, my computer screen suddenly filled with the profile of my middle child, and my blood pressure went up 40 points.

 

24 thoughts on “Wha? Where AM I?

    • It was CRAZY to watch it. They were just grabbing people to arrest. The guy doing the filming would watch the cops and say, “Arrests will happen in about a minute.” And boom! Three or four people would be pulled out and arrested. It scares the hell out of me to see this type of behavior. The NYC was acting like a private security firm for the big Banks. Awful!

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    • Thank you! They are safe and sound, and back at their apartments. Its scary, but I think so important for people to continue to speak up about the situation here. The increasing police reaction really bothers me!

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    • Thank you! They are my heroes; I wish that I had the backbone to stand there with them. But I was behind the scenes and texting like crazy!
      It will take a movement like this one to move our country forward, I really do believe that.

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  1. The reality is that we are not free to protest, to have a voice that dares to challenge. The thing I worry about is that often protests seems to be hijacked by a few who are not there to protest peacefully and everyone gets tarred with the same brush. It’s stuff like this that the media focus on and it often becomes an excuse by the authorities to exert unbalanced pressure. You are so right to be proud of your kids. This is an important issue and these collective voices and statements are far more important to society than we can truly imagine. Like you I would be too scared to go but I’m so pleased that there are folks, like your kids, who do – more power to them. Here’s to standing up for what you believe in and all the folks right behind them who feel the same. From what I’ve read in your blog your kids are smart, opinionated and brave. More power to them!

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    • Thank you for understanding my pride/cowardice! What a crazy mixed bag it was yesterday. It saddens me that there was literally no news coverage over here. I guess Kate Middleton’s boobs get top booking…!

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    • Wow, did they go to NY? I was in one march in Boston, and went to the Boston encampment a few times, but NY is too much for me. My boys have been to NY, Boston and Chicago. As they said yesterday, “Mom, its what we do.”
      They don’t feel brave, though; they love the energy and excitement of doing something that feels right.

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  2. I’m with you. Good on your kids for being there, and on you for raising citizens who think for themselves and act on their beliefs. Like you, I’d be both proud and terrified…but mostly proud.
    –Karen

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  3. I think our right to peaceably assemble infringes upon corporate greed and governmental corruption sometimes. Tell your sons “thanks” from one of the many 99%-ers. If they have a food fund, to whom may I send a donation?

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  4. Momshieb. I was in the city the same time as your darling kids (different area). I am so proud of any of the young men and women of that generation who will stand up and be counted. I was reading the other day how the voter suppression will quell so many of their votes and their buddies who are still in college. The Carl Rove group who started this voter suppression is hoping that our young people will get too frustrated with the road blocks and will just give up voting. One of the Republican leaders was caught candidly saying (paraphrased), “we want to lock down these new Voter Registration laws until these kids come to their senses and no longer are voting for democrats. . .I got over it, they will too. . .ha, ha, ha!” People of that ilk are hoping the Occupy Movement will get frustrated, discouraged, and bored, and that they will go get a new iPhone or something. The next generation must make their voices heard or others will speak for them and they won’t like what they end up with after we’re dead and gone. Hang in there, Mommy.

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    • I think that one of the big issues for many of the kids is whether or not to vote at all; given the way both parties are controlled by big business and those damn lobbyists, they feel like they have no real choices.
      I am intrigued by the way that the media keeps reporting that the Occupy movement is “dead”; there were hundreds of cops deployed last week, all over the place! Why? If the OWS is “pointless”?

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  5. I know, but the kids must resist that temptation not to engage no matter how flawed the system. If they don’t choose, others will choose for them, which is what the titans of industry want, and our kids will have to live with the results. No system of government is ever perfect, but by voting you can lessen the evil and help steer the ship. When I started voting, the deck was so stacked against the rights of Blacks it was enough to make you weep (and it did)–not to mention that it was life-threatening, but I knew that each vote was a baby step toward letting our voices be heard and one day we would win the day on a lot of things. We can’t let the imperfect kill off the good. If we stay engaged, we, and the kids, will triumph!

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