NEW YORK – If the Occupy Wall Street movement sustains itself by spreading its message – end Wall Street greed; eliminate poverty; create jobs at living wages; and stop crushing students with enormous debt from student loans – the walls of injustice will come tumbling down.
What a beautiful sight: thousands of union members, students, church groups, the unemployed, grassroots movements of all ages and colors rallied at Foley Square and then marched from Wall St. to Zuccotti Park in support of the young people who have been staying and sleeping here for three weeks now.
The overwhelming sentiment to support these young people was expressed by Élan of the UAW Local 2110. “I’m here to support these young people and workers rights.”
He then added, “But they have to vote. It’s the only way to get the representatives to do the right thing.”
Many union leaders have embraced Occupy Wall Street. Yesterday, members of the AFL-CIO’s executive council expressed unanimous support for the protest.
TWU Local 100, United Federation of Teachers, SEIU, Teamsters locals and DC37 of AFSCME were just some of the unions who showed up.
“I’m here because I see an injustice in this country; the middle class has been dying for 30 years. And now I hear from the Republicans we have to protect the ‘job creators,'” said Nathaniel Costa a Brooklyn Law School student.
“Well I feel no pity for the top 1 percent. I see the top 1 percent making a fortune in the last several decades and people are suffering more than ever,” he continued. “This is democracy in action. If the majority of people voted in this country a Republican would never be elected again.”
Handmade signs were visible everywhere: in fact the majority of the signs were original works. Several independent press agencies were present, along with most major networks. The mainstream press can no longer ignore this movement – it is simply too big.
But the evening news focused on 15 or 20 arrests while giving blink-of-an-eye footage of the thousands who were not in harm’s way.
Janet Restino, a lifelong artist, said, “The economy sucks. The robber barons are in charge. As an artist I’m one of the many of the artists class struggling economically. If you want to be true to your ideals… I’ve been at it for 30 years, writing songs trying to make cultural changes. Bring back the WPA, sign me up!”
Andrew Hillard a copy editor summed up much of the sentiment of the youth and the electoral process: “I’ve been coming down to Zuccotti Park, because I’ve felt really inspired by the movement. Some people are really radical and some people are much more interested in working through the electoral process. But the electoral process is deeply corrupt; it’s been bought and sold. A mass movement is the only thing at this point that can really change things.”
Photo: Gabe Falsetta/PW