I have to say, as much as I like what the Occupy movement is doing, I think they were wrong to explicitly rule out violence. This country does nothing until the elites feel threatened.
First of all, so far, the City of Philadelphia is supportive of the protesters. (Mayor Nutter has informed them that tonight he will host a showing of Game 5 tonight of the Phillies-Cards series.) I even talked to a cop who shrugged and said, “These people are no threat to anyone. They have a point of view and they’re expressing it.” (He said he was more worried about the crowd they might get if the Phillies win tonight.)
Police Chief Charles Ramsey is having the First Amendment read regularly over the police radio, and reminds his officers that citizens have the right to record or take pictures of police activity.
And the city even blocks traffic for them and lets them march around City Hall during rush hour. So far, so good. We’ll see.
Cleveland Johnson, 64, (“Cleveland, like the city”) lives in Pennsauken NJ but grew up in Philadelphia. He said in the Sixties, he walked picket lines in Philadelphia for the integration of Girard College. “I was here when Rev. Martin Luther King came through,” he said.
Then he pointed to the diverse group of young people.
“That was our time, and this is their time. They’re standing up for what’s right.”
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Earlier this week, the Daily News ran a story about a drug bust involving a manager at Jim’s Steaks in Philly. My first thought was what’s the big deal about Xanax and pot, aside from the legal risks if you don’t pay off the right people? Can those drugs be any worse for the human body than Cheez Whiz and minute steaks? More here.
Sounds like more Republicans are starting to see what a patch of quicksand Pope Grover’s pledge really is!
Just astounding, that they haven’t figured out yet that propping up zombie banks doesn’t fix anything.
When we finally made it to Zuccotti Park, the first person I saw camping out was a stoned-looking guy with a banjo standing next to a guy holding an upside-down American flag. These are the heroes we marched in solidarity with? This guy is our Wael Ghonim?
When I got home, I heard that Steve Jobs passed away. I was much more upset about his death than I expected to be. I’m not sure why but I immediately went on YouTube and looked up the “Think Different” commercial. My younger, more radical self hated the ad for exploiting Martin Luther King to sell computers, but I was moved this time around. “Here’s to the crazy ones” the narrator reads, “…the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
I thought about the drugged-out dude with the banjo: one of the crazy ones. And the dude with the upside down flag and the one with the severed head and the anti-fracking obsessive and the people jonesing for a confrontation with the cops: all crazy ones. Crazy ones who sparked the first mass outpouring of left-wing activism in years, who have finally provided a visible counter to the free market fanaticism of the Tea Party. Crazy ones who have reignited a conversation about class in America.
The pragmatic progressives like me didn’t start this movement. We thought about the long-term impact for the Left and the short-term electoral optics for Democrats. When the economy collapsed, we were quiet, the Tea Party spoke up, and the rage the country felt was directed towards government, not Wall Street. In short, we were afraid.
Thankfully, the crazy ones weren’t.
And in spite of all I saw that I didn’t like, there were clear signs that the movement is maturing, getting more organized, coalescing around a message: “We Are The 99%.” Like the protesters in Tahrir, there are clean-up crews keeping Zuccotti as spiffy as possible. Organizers are even enforcing message discipline by urging supporters on Twitter to shorten protest-related hashtags from #OccupyWallSt to #OWS.
Perhaps it’s a natural evolution, but it also seems likely that the movement is changing because the seasoned organizers and pragmatists are working alongside the radical idealists who were there from the start.
The only reason those pragmatists are there is because the crazy ones took the first steps.