Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Social Commentary: The New Face of Occupy Wall St.

words and photo: F LoBuono

I've been covering the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement in NYC as a TV Journalist from its humble beginnings at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan to yesterday's massive demonstrations all over the City (I was stationed first at Union Square, and then on lower Broadway).  I have covered the movement at all hours of the day and night, for weeks at a time.  So, IMHO, I believe that I can present a valid interpretation (mine, of course!) of what might be observed there.  I have shared some of those impressions (some vehemently disagreeing with them) on this blog.

In the early days of OWS, I think that it would be fair to say that the so-called backbone of the movement was mostly disenfranchised young people.  It would also be accurate to say that there was a goodly amount of so-called fringe people, i.e. those living literally on the edges of society involved.  However, even from the very beginning, they were not the ONLY people involved with OWS.  No.  I met teachers, union workers, former policemen, students, mothers, and more who were there because they believed in the over-all message of leveling the playing field, i.e. the 99% vs. the 1%.  Unfortunately, those who knocked OWS could not see beyond the fact that many of these people simply looked and lived differently. And, so, they dismissed the message.

Yesterday's action coincided with the annual May Day celebration of workers around the world.  With that in mind, I can say that OWS improved greatly in one area where they really needed to: coordination and mutual cooperation.  Where, in the early days, OWS was rightly chided for its "loose" organizational structure and, therefore, weak cooperative skills, yesterday's demonstrations were accomplished to great success because of the involvement of Organized Labor.  Unions, and union workers, were well represented in the vast crowds.  To me, this added an air of legitimacy to this action that had been lacking in early demonstrations.  These were not whacked-out kids but, rather, working people who were concerned about their jobs and, therefore, their livelihoods.  There were less fringe activities like the ceaseless drumming and chanting that plagued earlier OWS events and more purposeful and determined ones.  The speeches and the marching was organized, by and large peaceful, AND effective.  They got noticed!!  And that, ultimately, is the point.

So, is this the face of the new Occupy Wall Street?  If it is, it is a new and improved model and can only be a growing force in the future.  POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

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