Ramble On

Monday, November 7, 2011

Visiting #OccupyDC

We had relatives in town over the weekend.  On Friday, they wanted to head downtown to check out museums, so I decided that I would accompany them, and figure out how to break away for an hour or so to take a look at the OccupyDC sites that are set up in the area.

The first one I visited was at Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania avenue - a couple of blocks from the White House and maybe 15 from the Capitol Building.

As you can see from the photos, this location is pretty tidy.  There were even six rental toilets off to one side of the demonstration area.  Nothing like the squalor I'd been lead to believe I might encounter there.

There was even a schedule posted for events, an ampitheatre area for speeches and such, and a "soap box" meant to invite people to speak their minds.

Another impression I get from some media coverage is that these groups don't have a focused message.  I came away with the distinct impression that at least here, in DC, the focus was on economic issues.  At Freedom Plaza, there was a big display related to the wars of the last ten years...the "War Economy" to be specific.

I do have some comparisons to draw about the Tea Party movement and this one, but those thoughts aren't ready for posting just yet.

At Freedom Plaza, they had a collection of shoes and boots; I supposed this was a reference to some of the American lives lost overseas these last ten years.  I didn't encounter anyone to explain this display to me, or to tell me how some of the soldiers' names became attached to the boots I was seeing there - so I'll hold off on publishing those photos for now.

As I understand it, the city is not reacting as aggressively as has been done elsewhere.  This appears to be a recognition of the fact that Washington, DC is place where people come to make statements, in a long tradition.  And to some extent, maybe there is the thought that, if the demonstrations are ignored here, they'll just go away.

I found some irony in the encounter with the demonstration.  One thought that comes to mind this morning - Congress also occupies this city.  Residents of DC are not represented in Congress as the rest of the country is - yet they pay the same income taxes.  They don't have a direct say in how those taxes are spent either - Congress frequently interferes with the local government in a way that you'd witness no where else.

So Eric Cantor, think twice before you use the word "thug" to describe these American citizens.  Seriously, they could say the same thing about you.  Perhaps a better path would be to begin to listen to these voices rather than those deep pocketed donors of yours in the financial industry.

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