Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Occupying Wall Street

Sign in Liberty Plaza on Day 10 of Occupy Wall Street
The police brutality against protestors participating in the Occupy Wall Street Movement has been appalling. Our political leaders take foreign leaders to task for human rights violations abroad, so to see them in America disturbed me. In Cairo, when the protests began, I could sense the significance of what was happening in Tahrir Square. (See my coverage here ) Though comparing Tahrir Square to Liberty Plaza is a stretch, I believe it is significant none the less. The Wall St. protesters have remained in the plaza, no easy feat when facing a massive police presence. With each passing day, the Occupy Wall Street movement (AKA We Are the 99%) is growing. The social injustice and corruption in the American political system and the destructiveness of corporate greed is not a message those in charge want to hear.

If the police's goal was to intimidate the protesters, that hasn't happened. Manhandling protesters on 9/24 while video and still cameras recorded police brutality only empowered the group. Maybe those in charge haven't grasped  the power of social media, the spirit that fueled the Arab Spring. Predictably the protesters' resolve strengthened and their movement gained credibility once the media was forced to recognized what was going on. I am one of many who came to NYC to document Occupy Wall Street after seeing protestors pepper-sprayed and arrested.  The eyes of the world are on NYC

Some say the protesters are the Left's answer to the Tea Party. How refreshing to hear voices from another side. There is no single voice in Liberty Plaza and seemingly all the voices there are welcomed.The movement is gaining momentum as protests spread to other cities . Well known personalities are showing up, including Michael Moore and Cornel West, both of whom praised the protestors and thanked them for standing up to the powers that be and starting a much needed movement whose goal is social and economic justice.

Watching people practice free speech whether or not I agree with what they are saying or not reminds me how valuable free speech is. More coverage to follow in the coming days as the protest continues. 

See a video clip of Michael Moore speaking to Fox News reporter, here chiding him for not understanding capitalism.
Michael Moore Talking to Fox Reporter on Day 10
Cornel West tells the crowd not being afraid to say the word "Revolution" and thanking the protesters.
And a clip of West talking about how out of touch Geithner and Paulson are, how frightening this unpredictable gathering of people of all races and sexual orientations is to them.
See a photo slide show from my first day on the scene on the Atlantic Wire shot on day ten. And more images on Occupy Wall Street flickr set.

Protestors March on Wall Street

Police stand on the sidewalk of Liberty Square
Cornel West on Day 11 of Occupy Wall Street

One of many signs at Liberty Plaza

Protestors March around Wall Street on Day 10

Protestors March Through Wall Street on Day 10 

Monday, September 05, 2011

Will she run or won't she? Sarah Palin is still keeping people guessing.

At the Iowa Tea Party's September 3rd Restoring America rally, about 2,000 people braved the rain to hear former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin speak. She sharply lashed out at President Obama and at "more of the same." Her fans cheered, intermittently shouting out for her to "Run, Sarah, run."

I asked Judd Saul, the Tea Party of America media relations representative, about the lower than expected turnout. "It wasn't the rain that kept folks away, it was activist Peter Singleton, who spread rumors the rally in Indianola, Iowa, had been canceled. Emails and blogs stated Palin would be a no show at the event. It came down to the Tea Party vs. Sarah Palin's party, that was unhappy with this event because they lacked control." Other rumors claimed that Christine O’Donnell invited herself to the rally and was told she was welcome. In fact, O’Donnell was disinvited because the Palin camp didn't want to share the venue with her.
At Strong America Now's tent, tee shirts were given to those who signed a petition calling on candidates to take a Tea Party fiscal responsibility training class if they wanted to be endorsed by the Tea Party. From various voices in the crowd: "The only hot air coming out of the plant is from Al Gore's ass," "Vegetarians are whimps because they don't have to hunt down the prey" and "Democrats are ruining the country by taking god out of everything." According to one woman's tee shirt. "If you love guns, babies and Palin, the Tea Party is for you,"

After Palin's made her speech, she mixed with the crowd, holding babies, hugging supporters, signing books, tee shirts and whatever else was passed her way. Up next for Palin, New Hampshire, where her appearance raises further questions as to whether or not she'll run for President in 2012.