On Wednesday, before the rain and cold hit, I drove down to McPherson Square to talk to the residents of OccupyDC. I met Anthony and Annika.
Anthony is from Maryland, and Annika made her way to DC from Denver, Colorado hoping to be a part of the Occupy Wall Street movement, but she’s now pleased to have landed at DC’s Occupy.
Similar to most participants of the Occupy Movement, they are here because of their mutual dissatisfaction with the political, federal, and financial systems in the U.S. Corporate greed and its subsequent influence over the political system is a common theme voiced. Occupy participants, the so-called 99%, who have seen their incomes, jobs, and wealth diminish over the last decade, have been called together by various online rally cries, fueled by common frustrations. They are protesting against representatives, corporations, and economic inequalities with the wealthiest 1% of Americans who have seen their incomes, in some cases, grow at triple the rate of the 99-percenters.
There is an Occupy presence in Atlanta, Oakland, LA, West Virginia, Tennessee, Rhode Island and Boston just to highlight a few. In some areas the squatters are clashing with local police or politicians. Notably in Tennessee a magistrate would not enforce a curfew against the Occupiers imposed by the state’s Republican governor saying there was no authority to establish a curfew at the location.
Some have characterized these groups as ex-hippies looking for a reason to commune, and, or conspiracy theorists hungry for a controversy. While I’ll admit many do have a hippie-like appearance, I wonder how it would be possible to look like anything else when living in the elements 24/7; and does that characterization somehow detract from their complaints? If you look like a hippie your opinion doesn’t count? The criticism does seem to have that intent. Anthony and Annika certainly appeared genuine in their resolve to affect change, and withstand the environmental elements headed their way. I heard many vow to fight against any Republican efforts to marginalize the protests and protesters, and any Democratic efforts to hijack the movement for their own political gain.