Sorry I didn’t liveblog this, I will try to do so next time.
I visited OccupyChicago for the first time this week, on Friday, October 7th when the movement had been active for exactly 2 weeks. I was lucky enough to meet up with esteemed former contributor Lev Hirschhorn ’11.
What stuck out to me the most:
- The diversity of people: From what I’ve heard in the media and how I think of protests in general, I expected it to be mostly white, liberal college kids complaining about the government. Maybe that’s even how the movement started out, but that’s not how it is anymore. There were white, black, Hispanic, and people of all skin colors there. There were men, women and people who don’t subscribe to the binary. There were people who resembled stay at home mothers, businessmen, students, unemployed people and more. Young and old. Dressed nicely and not so nicely. All together.
- The lack of police interaction: This is again a misconception that has been spreading in part due to the media. Nationwide, the OccupyWallSt movement gained popularity and notoriety after the NYPD arrested about 700 protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge. We’ve all seen the mace videos. So it came as quite a surprise to see the police watching the protest from across the street, walking through the crowd of protesters at times, but not interacting in any way.
As you will see in some of my pictures, there are barricades up along the streets. However, I learned that these are NOT related to the protest, but in fact were put there for the Bank of America Marathon, which ran through that intersection on Sunday. I have not heard of any arrests or conflicts so far related to the Chicago protest, aside from the police directing protesters not to sleep on the streets and requiring them to continue moving their stores of food (which I don’t fully understand why they must do.)
On Friday, it was business as usual: a crowd of people standing in front of the Federal Reserve Bank building, at Jackson and LaSalle (231 N LaSalle Street). Although the protesters don’t have much space on these chosen blocks, unlike OccupyWallSt, in Liberty Plaza, their protest is situated at the intersection of the Bank of America Building, the Federal Reserve Bank Building.
How do the bankers feel about this bombardment? Well, story has it that, in response to the protesters’ oft-repeated refrain “We…are…the 99%!,” someone hung a sign in one of the Federal Reserve Building’s windows which read “We are the 1%”
To add some levity to the mood (at least I hope that’s why), one protester came adorned in a yacht club outfit with a similar sign.
But the mood was pretty enthusiastic anyway, what with the drumming, the chanting, and the sign-holding. People even ordered pizza and handed it out to protesters and passers-by.
These people are taking shifts, staking out the area 24/7. I was only there for an hour, but already was caught up in the enthusiasm and unity. Chanting can be really fun. It’s going to take me some more time to decide what I think about the protesters’ requests and how effective these demonstrations are, but I know I’ll be going back to find out more.