This is certainly in no way a vilification of the men and women of the financial district, or anyone else for that matter who finds themselves employed, whether that be gainfully or modestly. The tepid waters of this economy are friend to no one. It is only an observation of small moments in time, told objectively in order to note the existence of bad eggs on both sides of the spectrum, as I too have found myself the focus of transgressive heckling and yelling by men and women of Occupy Wall Street, who cowardly voice their displeasure of the media behind masks and bandanas, across NYPD guarded barricades, while I have sought the guidance of seasoned news veterans in covering this demonstration. One man wearing a mask made popular by the movie “V for Vendetta” felt it necessary to inform myself and a constituent of the lack of mainstream corporate sponsorship, injecting into our conversation the reminder that “This protest is not sponsored by Viagra”.
Needless to say it is this sort of ignorance displayed by both parties of Occupy Wall Street which prohibit proper adjudication of the subject. The subject, containing numerous contentious issues, delves deep into the philosophical notions of legitimacy, that is to ask if these people have a general right beyond their freedom of speech to exist as an organization, especially over so long a period of time without providing an American people, spoiled by technology, social networks, and 24 hour media a normative coalesced list of legislative demands? F. Scott Fitzgerald is quoted stating that “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” With that in mind, to be a just arbiter of Occupy Wall Street, understanding the cross section of America that makes up the nation’s largest social movement since the anti-war protests of the 60’s and early 70’s is essential for anyone who has already stated their opinion on the matter, and those still formulating one.
Occupy Wall Street and its’ chapters across the country are a radically new form of protesting never before seen in the history of the world. There is no linear dialog, thus making it difficult for observers to extrapolate the nature of its being and for most; myself included it can be frustrating at times to study. The movement is post-modern with many story lines intersecting and shooting off into sub plots across the nation and unlike “revolutions” of old the only concise legislative demand the American government has thus far received comes from participating unions demanding a millionaire’s tax. The anarchical base that has been given credence by participants has focused on sustaining longevity based off of a universal inclusionary platform which has provided the scene at Zuccotti Park and elsewhere in the nation, with a masala of activists and a broad array of placards that more than often reflects the coming together of Americans clustered in mass awaiting a long overdue delivery of Adderall, then a functioning group of revolutionaries that are working in cohesion. It is rather ironic to observe the protestors function as one, given the growing list of contradictions, take for instance the active participation of anarchist in a direct democracy known as the “General Assembly” as well as participating in a game of telephone; a means by which Occupy Wall Streeters utilizes to communicate the points of the “General Assembly” and directions to be followed for planned and impromptu marches, the prelude to all announcements begin with a singular “Mic Check!” yelled into the encircling crowd of participants, followed by an echo of copy cats who relay the fragmented sentences to those in the encampment. The marches have noticeably wreaked havoc on the morale of an already heavily criticized New York City Police Department, that faces budgetary cuts, staff cuts, charges of rape, racial profiling and is now under the microscope for receiving donations directly from Wall Street as well as but not limited to the countless Youtube videos portraying its’ members as ruthless applicators of the law on “peaceful protestors”. It has been said amongst those covering the story, that there would be no “Occupy” if it was not for the overzealous, ill-advised actions of Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna, whose punishment handed down by the NYPD’s top brass was the loss of ten vacation days. In my opinion, Bologna’s punishment should have been much harsher and not for obvious reasons one would take on (gross misuse of power) but for delivering Occupy Wall Street with the fuel and now infamous image of victim Chelsea Elliot on her knees screaming in agony, on the corner of 11fth and University Place. One way to effectively dull the blade wielded by Occupy Wall Street is to make examples now of those officers who have egregiously stepped over the line in order to keep the NYPD and every other municipal and state police department in line. In the fight of public opinion municipalities fail to garnish any emotional empathy, it is especially difficult for the men and women of the NYPD to win hearts and minds when the city’s Mayor has lost favor with two thirds of the populace. No CMO can effectively undo the damage the city has incurred over the past month, they can only attempt to curb further scrutiny and reinvent the brand message. In this Shakespearean play Bloomberg is a Medici Mayor of Florence seeking to quell the people screaming “Usury!” to no avail.
Occupy Wall Street symbolically claims to represent the 99% of Americans that have been disenfranchised due to inequities in the distribution of private wealth, and like most social movements, relishes the attention it receives from activist celebrities like Susan Sarandon, Michael Moore, and Al Sharpton as they garnish media attention. I question however, whether the attention drawn is positive or negative.
When Alec Baldwin announced via twitter his interest in visiting the protesters I wondered if it was only after he opened yet another residual payment from Capital One. Celebrities opulent, out of touch spending is shared and announced in every tabloid rag and tabloid television show in America. Their presence in response to the chanting of “We are the 99%” only cheapens the cause, and may also speak upon Americans’ inability to find their own moral compass without the assistance of popular figures; which is more a characteristic of a mob scene at Zuccotti Park. Needless to say such polarizing individuals only make the defense of OWS more porous and provide sharper scrutiny for those on the fence to establish a position that is distinctly not with the “occupiers”.