Tuesday, October 4, 2011

OWS: first-hand impressions of a visitor

A comment left on Louis Proyect's blog gives an interesting snapshot of the OWS grounds on Monday afternoon, October 3.
I posted this at revleft.com under my handle: RED DAVE
Okay, here are my impressions, that's impressions and not any kind of systematic observations, based on a brief visit of less than an hour to Occupy Wall Street in New York.

  1. (1) The site is terrific: one block east and north of Ground Zero and a couple of blocks north and west of Wall Street itself. The park is a large open space with some trees with Broadway on the east and very tall building to the north and south.

(2) When I was there with my wife, about 4:30 this afternoon, grey skies and kind of cool, there were, I guess, about 4000 people there. There were a large number of tourists and people who work in the neighborhood and a group of about 500 who were engaged in the business of the occupation.

(3) The overall impression of the occupation is very positive. It looks and is very large for such an undertaking.

(4) The occupation itself, remember I'm viewing it from the outside, reminded me of the May Day Tribe demos in Washington in 1971. There was a purposeful, cheerful disorder. There are no tents allowed but there are make-shift one-person shelters (this is an inadequate term; think plastic sleeves with sleeping bags in them).

(5) There was a meeting going on when we were there, being carried out in Amislan (American Sign Language). It was difficult to discern if this was a group of deaf students just temporarily at the site or a permanent group.

(6) The most important communication medium for people there is large numbers of homemade signs on the ground on the north side of the site. People are encouraged to put make their own signs.

(7) There is a media center with a generator that connects the site to the Internet.

(8) There are tables, more like long, low platforms, where vegetarian food is served to all comers.

(9) Unfortunately, while we were there, the only group activity besides the Amislan group was a bunch of dancing Hari Krishnas without orange robes. It reminded me of Tompkins Square Park ca. 1968.

(10) There were no cops visible at all. None.

(11) My overall impression was of an activity more turned in on itself at this point. There was no systematic attempt to engage passersby. Since there is no coherent "official" line and not much organization, this is not surprising.

(12) There was no sign of organized leftist activity or organized union presence.

(13) I was surprised at how fast the whole thing has taken on a definite hippy look.

(14) Through my eyes, this occupation is at what I would call a pre-political stage.

I'll try to get back there in a day or two, but I work full-time, and I have a lot of stuff on my plate.

Comment by RED DAVE — October 4, 2011 @ 2:26 am




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