Video posted at the bottom!
The past week has no doubt been a monumental one for the Occupy Wall Street movement. The movement that started with a small collection of protesters at New York’s Zuccotti Park on September 17 to speak out against what it sees as the greed of Wall Street at the expense of the middle and working classes, has since mushroomed in numbers. The seed of this movement was allegedly planted by the Canadian alternative magazine Adbusters, suggested people take to the streets to express their dissatisfaction.
Though ignored by much of the press for its first couple weeks, it found its way into the national conversation more and more, aided by social media. Last week around 700 protesters were said to arrested trying to cross the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday Oct 2 .
Over the course of the week the protest branched out to gatherings in seventy cities according to at least one estimate throughout the country, where crowds of predominantly young people with a smattering of causes, grievances, and stories of hardship have assembled to voice their frustration with an economy and political system that many of them say is leveled against them.
A number of unions also have voiced their support, with some members joining protesters Wednesday in New York City. Progressive activists groups have praised the ‘Occupy’ movement as an exercise in grass roots democracy and a step towards taking back their country (sound familiar), while top Democrats including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Vice President Joe Biden, have expressed sympathy with the movement; (though the thought of Nancy Pelosi leading a chant of ‘we are the 99 percent’ does seem a bit ridiculous) conservative critics and top Republicans have described them as basically a mob of spoiled lazy hipsters who offer little in the way of a coherent solution. Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) labeled the movement a ‘attack on freedom’ (which when any politician uses the term ‘freedom’ to either lionize their political allies or demonize their political foes the word almost instantly goes from being an ideal that tugs at the heart to being just another word so excessively used in political debate that it is rung of all meaning).
The ‘Occupy movement’ has touched down in the land between New York and Boston though. Students and staff at the three colleges in Amherst as well as at Mount Holyoke College participated in the‘ Occupy Colleges’ national walk-out, orchestrated to show support for the protesters. And in Northampton demonstrators made the trek from their encampment at Pulaski Park in the Center of town over to the nearby branch of Bank of America where police cordoned off a zone where between 8am to 8pm protesters could assemble to voice their criticisms and grievances. Much to my surprise, the spirit was still alive early Saturday morning as the park has now become a camp site with a small but dedicated band of campers, while others just freely come and go from the scene.
I will have more on the ‘Occupy Northampton’ event this past Thursday and my follow-up on Saturday with an article, a photo gallery, and hopefully more video; the bulk of which should be posted by late tonight. Meanwhile the video posted below will give you a feel for Thursday’s scene, with Nate Martel of Sunderland on the guitar leading the chorus in song amongst the chants.
I will do my best to keep you updated on the ‘occupy’ movement in Western Massachusetts.