by David Safier
BfA has been uncharacteristically silent about a possible progessive/liberal/leftist groundswell: the "Occupy Wall Street" protests which have been going on continuously for the past few weeks. I have two excuses reasons for my silence. I've been off my feed for the past few weeks, and I haven't been able to decide whether this is something real or more like a lingering flash mob.
Here are a few thoughts:
- It's Real. The Wall Street protests have had staying power, and they're beginning to get some attention from the media. A few hundred people are there on a regular basis, but thousands more come out on the weekends to join the stalwarts. A common concern is, these people don't have a formal agenda. True. Some people are comparing them to the expressions of pent up anger and the use of social media we have seen during the Arab Spring. For me, a more apt comparison, though some may bristle at the thought, is to the Tea Party movement if it didn't have corporate and Republican Party sponsorship. Take away the massive funding and the GOP manipulation, and you have a bunch of people on the right who harbored a genuine but unfocused anger about the direction the country was heading and wanted to "take our country back." This movement seems to be a similar outpouring of anger and concern from the left. If it continues to grow, however, it will be a more organic growth, since it won't have the millions in funding and the mass production of signs, slogans and events at the Tea Party's disposal.
- It's Growing. Saturday, 700 demonstrators were arrested while crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. I didn't see an estimate of the crowd size, but it had to be in the thousands for that many to be arrested. Labor unions are beginning to take notice and get involved. Other cities have seen solidarity protests, including Albuquerque, Boston and L.A. And Tucson. According to local participant and blogger Pamela Powers, 50-75 people gathered for an Occupy Tucson assembly Saturday "in the plaza adjacent to the Unisource Energy Building but [then] moved to Veinte de Agosto Park after Tucson police and Unisource security asked them to." There are plans for an October 15 event in Phoenix. You can learn more on Facebook and Twitter @occupyphoenix.
- It's Getting Notice from the Media. Last week, you pretty much had to depend on the alternative media (here, here and here, for instance) or MSNBC to even know Occupy Wall Street existed. Now the East Valley Trib has an AP article, the Republic has another, (I didn't see anything in today's Star), the NY Times has an article, an analysis, and a very good discussion in Nicholas Kristof's column.
The importance and direction of the Occupy Wall Street movement is still unknown, but the same can be said of any groundswell movement in its formative stages. However, it's clearly worth watching, and it's time to consider participating in some way. (A quick and easy one: order a pizza or other food for the NY protesters. Find out how.)
UPDATE: Azazello informs me of the Occupy Tucson website (not to mention Facebook page, YouTube Channel, Twitter and Reddit). Plans are afoot for an October 15 event. Stay tuned for details. (A Tucson participant posted on Daily Kos as well. Isn't amazing how the series of tubes making up the internets connect to one another?)