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Wall Street as Gated Community

by MISSY BEATTIE

My sister Laura and I took the train to Manhattan on Wednesday to participate in the occupation of Wall Street.  But Wall Street is barricaded.  Yes, pedestrians move on the sidewalks, but police and metal prevent anyone from walking or entering the street.

The protestors are several blocks away at Zuccotti Park.

Again, let me say it:  Wall Street is barricaded, a gated community with security.

Wall Street is walled in, closed to all but the financial giants whose personhood has assaulted the middle class and working poor through breaking and entering, seizing homes, the present and the future, while influencing politicians to bankroll the uber-wealthy by systematically extorting taxpayer dollars.  More simply stated, we are being BP’d and Fukushima-ed as THEY yell, “Deeper, harder.”  And we the people have had no safe word.

As Laura and I walked to Zuccotti Park, I approached a police officer who guarded a barrier and asked, “What’s going on here?”

“There’s a demonstration?”

I said, “Do you know what the protestors hope to accomplish?”

“No, ma’am, you’ll have to ask them.”

I said, “They’re protesting for you, to protect your pension. So, don’t be one of those policemen that uses mace against these demonstrators.”

“No, ma’am.”  And he smiled.

At the park, I talked with a woman who told me she’d been listening to live streaming that suddenly was lost.  So, she decided to participate.

A young man named Casey said he’s been there since day one.  And will stay as long as people continue to gather.  I asked his assessment.  He told me that he sees more and more people arriving each day and he expects this to be huge.

Twenty-one year-old Micah said he decided to come when he learned that so many people in America live below the poverty line.  That they are unable to lobby politicians and that this is “silencing their voice in a supposed democracy.” I asked if he’d taken part in peace rallies.  He said no.  I challenged him and asked if he knew anyone who’d been killed in the wars of terror.  He said, “My uncle.”  Also, he said he became concerned about the apathy, even his own, and felt the need to do something.

This protest is inchoate but building as participants talk strategies and goals.  They’re excited, energized, and determined to inveigh against the financial tapeworms whose predatory migrations drain our lives of even the basics of what’s needed to survive.

And it’s a good start.

We can state unequivocally that the oligarchy cares nothing for “The Other” in the countries we invade and occupy for resources.   But here’s another distillate:   They, also, care NOTHING for “The Other” here at home, the middle class and working poor.

So, here I am, reporting from the uprising.  And I reiterate–it’s not on Wall Street. It’s shunted, for less impact.  Of course.  This is the United States of America.  Where dreams have devolved into a reality of near hopelessness.  But it’s a start.  And it is catching the imagination of more and more people inspired by this group of mostly twenty somethings, and veterans who know the truth of war, and other ordinary men and women who are demanding justice, like a man behind a shocking prop, a table whose surface is covered by medications he must take to treat sarcoidosis of the lungs.  The sign he holds says that he volunteered at Ground Zero in the aftermath of 9/11.

Signs are held high and also carpet the ground.  Here are examples:

“Send Seal Team 6 To The Cayman Islands Audit America’s Financial Criminals.”

“The 99% Includes the Cops.”

“Wall Street’s Santa” (with a photo of Ben Bernanke).

“UNITE!  You Have Nothing to Lose  but Your Chains.”  “

As of March 2011 Congress Has APPVD $1.283 TRILLION For Military Operations END WAR NOW.”

“Capitalism A Love Story They Love Their Money and They Love Yours $.”

“I Drove 1768 Mi. To # OCCUPY Wall ST.”

“COMPASSION DOES NOT EXIST IN A PROFIT DRIVEN ECONOMY.”

“PLEASE CONSIDER JOINNG US  WE LOVE YOU.”

My son just called to tell me that the New York Transit Workers voted to support the Wall Street protestors, joining other unions like the Teamsters and the United Pilots Union.
This demonstration is more than a start.  It may become a formidable movement.  Perhaps, it already is.

Missy Beattie lives in Baltimore, Maryland.  She’s pumped.  And, oh, how she’d love to move back to NYC.  Reach her at missybeat@gmail.com.    

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

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