OCTOBER 16: While in Portland, Maine to give a talk on race and
social justice at First Parish Portland Unitarian Universalist
Church, I visited on Sunday with Occupy Wall Street participants
(above) who have camped out at a downtown park. It was an unseasonably
warm day, their spirits were high, and my sense was that they are highly
organized (e.g., they have a media coordinator) and that they feel
very connected with Occupy Wall Street groups elsewhere.
(NYC PHOTOS AFTER THE JUMP)
OCTOBER 18: I went from Portland to NYC, where I went to Zuccotti Park today. It was strangely peaceful this afternoon: police everywhere, and the palpable sense that the NYC enforcers might do anything at any time, but, again, a beautiful day with a calm, almost casual, feeling in the park. It’s clear that the elites are confused about what to do about the Occupation movement: drastic actions make martyrs of the participants and are also increasingly difficult in NYC with the thousands of supporters who show up when the encampment is threatened; at the same time, allowing the Occupation to continue enables a dangerous reinforcement of anti-corporate American sentiment.
OCTOBER 18: Among the NYC Occupiers I talked with were Ilya and Maggie (above), who have been in Zuccotti Park for weeks and consider the cooperative spirit of the Occupation community (e.g., food and other necessities provided for all) to be a model for American society; and a person working at the encampment’s recycling and composting depot who worries that the self-focused excesses of some homeless or pathologically reckless participants may taint the public-interest image of the Occupation. In truth, of course, these things highlight the central grievance of the Occupy Wall Street movement: that America is not taking care of needy Americans.
As so many of us know, this broad explosion of anger, backed up by opinion polls on such issues as a Millionaires’ Tax, is hugely important. We’ve not seen such widely explicit expressions of class clashes in a very long time.