November 8, 2011. For weeks, every news cast, both radio and TV, had coverage of Occupy Wall Street. It was time to check it out in person. My photographer friend Bob (Robert Roman Studios) had also planned on visiting the site and he invited me to ride along. Fantastic weather for November as the temperature hit 70 degrees.
Upon arrival, I noticed a large police presence and I took a couple of photographs of New York's finest. (prettiest young ladies I encountered the whole day !)
To understand what the Wall Street protests were about, I thought their signs would tell the story; however, there really was no central theme, as the signs covered everything from closing Nuclear Power plants to the 1915 genocide in Armenia. In these difficult economic times, the one sign that was strangely missing was: "Where are the jobs?".
After lowering her sign a few inches, this young lady revealed her real agenda.
If you think it's easy to hang out with these folks, think again. (sign was still up 10 days after it was posted).
Having heard the famous Kennedy speech of years past, this gentleman inverted the message to what is probably: THE CORE BELIEF OF ALL THE PROTESTERS.
The "I want, I need" signs and "donation buckets" were everywhere.
The Native American Indians had donation requests covering everything from art supplies to automobiles. Indian Casinos have tax free profits of over $20 billion every year. Indians own many oil wells in Oklahoma. If the fairness idea is to tax the rich, how come rich Native Americans refuse to help poor Native Americans?
Winter is coming to the northeast, one guy wanted donations for winter gear, the other guy wanted donations for a bus ticket so he could protest in Florida.
The demand to bring back bankruptcy protection for students, basically implies: "I want to attend any university I wish, and upon graduation, I want to declare bankruptcy so someone else will pay my bills". Are these the same protesters that are critical of the moral values of Wall Street?
Well, this sign was true. Lobbyist Jack Abramoff, got four years in prison for successful corruption of politicians in Washington, DC.
There was lots of music in the park from 5 piece bands to individuals, some were quite talented.
Across the street from the park, television media was set up for interviews. Sure enough, Al Sharpton couldn't resist yet another opportunity to appear in front of the cameras.
All those with cell phones and digital cameras, were busy taking photos today.
Ah yes, people watching, a fun sport.
Around 1:30 PM, media formed around this flower circle and the only person in the circle was this seriously overweight gentleman? Much later, around 3 PM, a huge ovation was heard as apparently David Crosby and Graham Nash arrived and sang a couple of songs.
Not all protesters wanted freebees and hand-outs, as these two guys were shining shoes for a little cash.
And, this lady's sister was working a minimum wage job to help pay her college bills instead of dropping out. That's what adults call personal responsibility.
All of these events took place in one small park in Manhattan. During my visit, there were no problems, everyone was at ease and enjoying the day. With the multi-billion dollar NYC budget deficit, how odd that the fiscal savvy Mayor Bloomberg would allow spending over $7 million in support of this activity?
President Obama tried to compare the Occupy movement with the Tea Party movement, and naturally in lock-step with Obama, the television media did the same. To be fair and balanced, here is the non-political, factual, raw data of both movements using Google:
Tea Party Occupy movement
Riots 0 Numerous (especially Oakland)
Deaths 0 3
Rapes 0 2
Arrests 0 Too numerous to count.
Sanitation 0 Problems too numerous to count.
Drug use 0 Problems too numerous to count.
$$ costs 0 Millions for extra police, police overtime and sanitation costs.
It would appear that Occupy movement is a well funded political diversion to keep the focus on the bad conduct of Wall Street instead of the Obama administration's failed multi trillion dollar stimulus, the 9% unemployment, the $528 million Solyndra scandal, the huge foreclosure problem, the $4 trillion national debt, the additional war in the middle east, the closing down of U.S. energy sources, and the lost buying power of the U.S. Dollar. It's too bad that all this protest energy is not focused on our politicians in Wash. DC where this mess was fostered and mismanaged.
November 19, 2011. When I visited Occupy Wall Street 11 days ago, there were over a hundred small tents and several large tents including a library, first aid station and a food tent. Two days ago, the 17th of November marked the two month anniversary of the movement. My interest in returning was too observe the activity of the protesters when they had no place to sleep and to see if their protest signs carried a more centralized theme.
My first observation was how un-crowded it was, half of the park was vacant and the police presence was quite small.
When I visited 11 days ago, the protests signs were about: war is not the answer, shutting down nuclear power plants, wall street, genocide in Armenia, Monsanto Corp, the dislike of Fox News and Ronald Regan and of course: please make a donation.
On this visit, most of the "protest" signs had no theme at all. One young lady had no particular beef about anything, she just wanted us to know she came all the way from Burlington, Vermont (and reading her face): that she was having fun "just hanging out".
Another young lady, clean cut, with perfect makeup, wanted us to know that she was "Occupying" with her parents. As I passed them, her mom looked like she was enjoying the visit, but her dad had a look of: "what am I doing here". I still haven't seen any "where are the jobs?" signs. In many cases, it was difficult to understand the protester's message, with the exception of the donation boxes.
Religious groups were well represented with their messages:
Was it because it was a day of protest, that on this occasion there was a GAY WEDDING. One of them, not sure if it was the "bride" or "groom", went all teary eyed when the vows were taken. The "wedding official" was apparently decked out in his finest "wedding official" apparel.
Click HERE to view the wedding video (I put it on youtube)
It would appear that the Occupy Wall Street movement was winding down: Fewer protesters, fewer police, no TV media trucks and the "protesters" that were present were just hanging out for something to do, or perhaps go down in their family history book as "yep, I was in the Occupy Wall Street Movement". It will be interesting to observe whether the movement will survive the cold weather and if not, will it emerge next year when the weather is warmer ?
Many protesting college students had no prospects for work, yet, there was not one single sign that said: "Where are the Jobs ?" or "Trillion dollar stimulus - but no jobs". The students have very valid complaints; however, unless they can clearly define their problems in their public protesting, and make specific demands of those responsible, there will be no solution forthcoming.