Occupy Protests: A Movement that is Out of Hand
By Ryan Schwertfeger
When I was asked to write about Occupy Wall Street [for Drumbeats], I decided that I would write an article based off of facts with my opinion instead of an article with my opinion supported by facts. I decided to do this because it’s important to get the facts straight before making any judgment or decision. I think most people are not informed with the facts and that’s a big problem.
Occupy Wall Street first got its start on June 9th of this year when a Canadian Anti-Consumerist Magazine called Adbusters registered the domain name OccupyWallStreet.org. Soon after, on July 13th, the same magazine called for a protest to take place on September 17th to advocate for “democracy not corporatocracy” and that “20,000 people” should show up to protest. When September 17th rolled around, about 1,000 people came to protest against Wall Street and soon set up camp at Zuccotti Park, a few blocks away. Then, the peaceful protests got ugly.
On the first of October, about 700 protestors were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge for interfering with traffic even though the police had told them to stay on the walkway. Then, on October 8th, an offshoot group called Occupy D.C. joined in with a different protest taking place in front of the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. This created so much of a nuisance that the museum had to shut down. On October 13th, the owner of the park that the Occupy Wall St. crowd was using asked the protesters to move for a few hours in order to clean the park. The protestors refused.
On a scary note, many crimes and anti-American sentiments have been occurring at these Occupy rallies. As of November 15th, there have been 248 incidences regarding Occupy movements across the country including: rape, public masturbation, a flyer informing people “when should you shoot a cop”, thievery in camps, protestors shouting f*** the USA, shoplifting from businesses, death threats toward policemen, vandalism, heroin being circulated in Occupy Boston, as well as public defecation. For the most part, very few Occupy camps have done anything to solve problems like the ones previously mentioned. Some have set up rules and have taken action, but even those who have taken action have rules put in place that make no sense. OWS decided that to solve the rape problem, they would create a “rape free zone”. The zone is just a tent, guarded by women, making sure that men do not enter. I don’t know about you, but I think the world should be a “rape free zone”…not just a tent.
So, now you know a bit of the facts behind Occupy. When I formed my opinion, I based it on what I had heard about this movement as well as a movement on the opposite side of the spectrum: the tea party. I love and support the tea party movement and the tea party as it was formed after citizens were upset about government spending, government policies and of course taxes. In fact, the name “tea” party is an acronym for Taxed Enough Already. The mainly liberal media blasted the tea party for several different reasons with many of the accusations being blown out of proportion (I’ll get back to that in a bit). I was not happy with the spin the media was applying to the tea party and thought it was very unfair and misleading. In fact, it was misleading to the public about the purpose and the people behind Occupy.
When I, the President of the Republican club, was told a friend and fellow Junior at IHHS and member of the club, that he supported OWS, I was very shocked. My friend told me that he supported the movement because Occupy was against big banks and corporate greed. I told him that he should look a little deeper into the protests and that maybe he’d think about it differently. He changed his mind after he discovered that a secret organization bent on creating unstable governments was behind the movement. I then told him my reasons for not supporting the protestors shortly after they came on the scene. When I first learned about their message and purpose, I disagreed with why they were protesting, but I supported them in their protests for speaking out and expressing their opinions. That’s one of the great things that we have the right to do in this country and whether one agrees with a group or not, everyone has the right to free speech.
When I first learned about their message and purpose, I disagreed with why they were protesting, but I supported them in their protests for speaking out and expressing their opinions. That’s one of the great things that we have the right to do in this country and whether one agrees with a group or not, everyone has the right to free speech.
When the OWS protestors went on the Brooklyn Bridge and stopped traffic, my thoughts went from “this is peaceful and has an interesting message” to “this is getting violent and something needs to happen”. I became disgusted with the Occupy movement when people were getting rowdy and oblivious to their surroundings (an old lady had been pushed down cement stairs after pushing and shoving by protestors), people were getting seriously hurt (someone was shot in an Occupy Oakland, CA rally), as well as the many anti-American messages (including the promotion of socialism and communism in flyers and signs) at the camps. As I mentioned above with the tea party, some accusations were made were about one or two crazies attending a rally. However, as everyone knows, every movement has that one group of crazy people, so some of the reports coming out of Occupy I disregarded because it doesn’t represent everyone. But when reports and instances like the horrifying things I mentioned above are happening every day, which is not humane.
All in all, Occupy has been a major disappointment to me and probably to most Americans who were looking to hear a different point of view. What Americans see and hear instead of their message is about the unsanitary conditions these people have put themselves in and the crimes that plague their camps. If the Occupy protestors want to start a real dialogue, they should first address their crime problems and then start talking. Also, instead of protesting in NYC, they should protest in D.C. where the government makes decisions for the country. In fact, they should start by occupying the White House since records show that President Obama has raised more money from Wall Street than all the current Republican Presidential candidates combined. Just some food for thought…
This article is scheduled to be published in the December issue of IHfan.net
It takes a lot of courage to write a political opinion piece as a high school student, and I applaud your effort. In that spirit, I wanted to comment critically on your piece.
It will take lots of courage to listen to public criticism, but listening to critics with an opposite point of view, even one that is offensive, is what makes us great. In fact, the US Supreme Court recently protected the free speech rights of the most offensive of protesters, in an 8-1 decision, saying that “As a Nation we have chosen a different course—to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.”
That said, I was saddened that you would group anti-american sentiment in with horrendous crimes like rape, and not so serious crimes like public urination.
I was further disturbed by one of your statements in your essay. I was curious what secret organization was behind these protests that you mentioned… That seemed a little over the top. When people start talking about banks and cabals my eyebrows raise in incredulity. I certainly hope you are not going there. Alluding to antisemitic conspiracies is pretty opinionated, and not very fact based.
However, many people sympathize with the complaints that the Occupy protesters have brought to the table, primarily that corporations have allowed the very rich to take advantage of the middle class and poor, creating a social condition where the gap between the ultra-wealthy and the rest of the population is ever increasing. Corporations were created originally by a grant by the state, providing shareholders limited liability, to do business for a specific purpose, and very closely regulated. It wasn’t until the 19th Century that corporations achieved personhood and other legal protections that the founding fathers would have found odious.
You might want to read this Economist article about what the founding fathers thought about the estate tax: http://www.economist.com/blogs/lexington/2010/10/estate_tax_and_founding_fathers
“If there was one thing the Revolutionary generation agreed on — and those guys who dress up like them at Tea Party conventions most definitely do not — it was the incompatibility of democracy and inherited wealth….The states left no doubt that in taking this step they were giving expression to a basic and widely shared philosophical belief that equality of citizenship was impossible in a nation where inequality of wealth remained the rule.”
Mawin, first off, thank you for reading and sharing your opinion! Happy Thanksgiving as well!
I grouped both together because they are both going on at the same time within the same protest movement and they are both negative points. I was saddened to hear about these things taking place as well as the anti-American sentiment. This is what really ticks me off about these protests. They have the right to speak and share their viewpoints, but the crimes that are occurring are just unacceptable. I listed many different types of crimes going on to give a broad spectrum of what is going on.
As for my friend, he said he could not remember the name of the group but that he was frightened by its activities within OWS. I too would like to know what the name of this group is and I asked him to try and find it. I would normally not bring something up that has no credible evidence to it, however I did include it because I had heard other stories of outside groups spreading their message and promoting their causes in the occupy movement online and in the news.
Like I said in the article, these people have the right to protest and while I may not agree, their views and opinions should be heard and it is their right to be heard. The media has been bias however when it comes to sharing who protestors are and that is not acceptable, for example, saying that the occupy crowds have been fairly peaceful while the tea party protestors have cursed racial slurs and threatened people.
I visited the Zuccotti Park OWS site the weekend before it closed down. It was like going to a three ring circus with different acts going on all over the place that it was hard to focus on one. The drum circle was entertaining. A lot of the protesters were more focused and telling you their point of view as opposed to a serious conversation. For the most park it looked like a refugee camp. Personally I thought it looked very unsafe as the tents were so close to each other there was little room to walk. If a tent ever caught fire from a cigarette the whole place would have burned in minutes. The best part was the guy building a model of Zuccotti Park out of LEGO blocks! That was cool.
Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing.