Occupy D.C. Taps into a Deep Reservoir of Anger and Discontent Part 2
Barrington M. Salmon | 10/27/2011, 9:25 a.m.
The following represents the second installment of a two-part series on Occupy D.C (to read Part 1 click here)
At McPherson Square on a recent Friday night, a large crowd of mainly young protestors participated in a general assembly where a plethora of issues, ethereal and practical, were considered and agreed upon.
Members discussed, among other things, a march the next day and whether marchers could walk on sidewalks without being troubled by law enforcement; they asked whether the goal was to be arrested and the consequences of that; and they also talked about the location of tents; how not to kill the grass; and how best to safeguard people's personal belongings as the group settles in.
An interesting interactive feature included the 'mic checks' - a novel way to ensure that everyone heard questions and other information by participants who repeated, word-for-word, what each speaker said.
About 30 tents in neat rows covered most of the grassy area. Small knots of people chatted, a Jewish group, led by two guitarists, sang, not far away, while a trio comprised of a guitarist, accompanied by a tuba player and a trombonist, worked on perfecting some impromptu arrangements.
At one entrance to the park stood a fading red and white Occupy DC sign and a large American flag attached to a length of white PVC piping bending in the night breeze. One sign read: "The whole world is watching - we are the 99 percent."
Back at Freedom Plaza, retired Col. Ann Wright eyed the tent city around her with undisguised pleasure.
"It is encouraging to see the numbers and to see this all over the country," said Wright, who traveled to the District from Honolulu, Hawaii. "There are 150-200 people left from the 1,500 who were here over the weekend. I certainly hope for more ... I think the politicians are getting the sense that people are pissed off. City governments are going down the toilet."
Wright, a former diplomat and soldier - who said she was "on the ground" in Somalia, Grenada and Panama - said she is deeply concerned about certain government policies and wars "that are sucking us dry."
"We have lost our financial and moral standing in the world," said Wright, who spent 16 years as a diplomat and resigned in 2003 because of her opposition to 'Bush's war.' "So much funding goes into these wars and at the same time, we're dealing with the pitiful state of education, roads and healthcare. The corporate greed is appalling and Wall Street is sucking us dry, too."
Wright added that it's heartwarming to see the growing numbers of city councils, mayors and other elected officials around the country endorsing the protestors.
A mantra of the Occupy movement is that "the 99 percent will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 percent."
The 1 percent includes banks, and the insurance and mortgage industries which are said by the group to control 99 percent of the money, and the 99 percent encompasses the rest - the have-nots. In actuality, the wealthiest 1 percent is thought to control about 40 percent of the nation's wealth.