For months now as I have been roaming my house doing chores with the TV on, I’ve heard the sound bites and news clips depicting vivid scenes of scores of protesters in the streets worldwide and how arrests on Wall Street are being made daily due to protestors camping out and flooding the streets of New York with signs, chants and thousands of people. Honestly…I’ve just been looking the other way. It was one of those things you think will just go away in a couple days and there is no need to research or discover what is going on. At least I’d hoped it was because I really had no clue what it was all about.
But two days ago I got a text from my sister in law regarding a New York Judge’s ruling and interpretation of the 1st amendment which basically states that the 1st amendment does not afford you the right to camp out overnight in protest and thus the tent communities the Occupy members were living in were shut down. The first thing that went through my head when I read the text was flashbacks of First Amendment class in law school and reading case after case on content neutral, content based, time place and manner tests and obscenity, but the second thing that went through my mind was…Is this still going on???
I’m sure by the above paragraph you thought this was going to be a blog on legal limits on your First Amendment rights which I would LOVE to write you 18 pages on…but alas, I don’t have the time or energy for that today, so stay with me…you are spared. However, apparently the movement IS still going on. Sooooooooo I did some reading this morning about Occupy and understand a little more of it now. Basically…the people are mad. I like the slogan “We are the 99%” which illustrates economic inequality; specifically the growing disparity between the upper class or the 1% of the population that has and controls much of the wealth in this country and the middle/lower classes in America or the 99% that is left that doesn’t control much individually. Furthermore I understand the anger and frustration with greed, undue corporate influence in politics/business transactions and corruption. But what I can’t figure out is what specific resolution and/or demands the organizers and participants of the Occupy movement want?
The movement demonstrates how passionate people in large numbers can command attention and convey a message. Usually, this method can obtain results; however, I am unclear as to what result the citizens partaking in the protest are seeking. In other words, what would end the movement? I’m hoping one of my readers can clarify it for me. Is it not true that normally with a protest there is a demand and when that demand is met, the protest ends? For two months now the Occupy participants have stormed the streets of many countries. They are occupying the roads, boulevards and paths of New York City, San Francisco, Dallas, Kuala Lampur, Zurich and a number of other countries worldwide, but that’s all they are doing….occupying them. Well….and chanting complaints.
This makes me wonder how many of the participants even fully understand the protest themselves and how many are merely sheep following a crowd. Surely, someone passionate about an issue could organize a rational solution to the problem that if met, either in whole or in part, could appease the masses and end the movement. I’m not sure if that sentence should end with a period or a question mark. Perhaps disseminating the message that people are unhappy with the economic inequities as depicted above is all that participants are trying to accomplish. I say that because I just see no clear demands. If that is the case then I wonder how long it will continue seeing as no specific action can end it.
I love protests regardless of whether or not I agree with the issue, because they illustrate and put into action Freedom of Speech and the people’s right to peacefully assemble, both of which are notions at the very core of this countries foundation. Many people fought/fight for that right and some have given their lives so while slightly off topic, I don’t want anyone to forget that.
For now it seems without any specific demands the Occupy movement will likely continue to grow and draw supporters, some of which I presume will likely just see a mob moving down the street and join in, but supporters none the less. Perhaps over time as the message is heard even louder a demand or solution will be realized and proposed or maybe without campsites and winter approaching the importance of standing up for financial equality will get outweighed by the impending harsh weather and will in turn die. God I can be so cynical….
Either way, a worldwide message against the state of the current economy has been heard. What began as a grass roots crusade overseas had snowballed into a worldwide spectacle at the very least drawing people’s attention even though it has yet to spark a resolution or a solution to the issues and problems it raises.
I guess now that I’ve read all these articles I’ll stay tuned. J