I simply don’t have the energy to produce a flowery perspective on what today’s action means to me or to the diverse group of people who make up the 99%. Today I was witness to something that was commonplace in the 60’s and 70’s but had, for the most part, escaped my own eyes through years of activism. Today I was brought to tears by the magnitude of a collective voice; today I was forced to reconcile my practicality with the sheer power of numbers. Today, I believe I witnessed the metamorphosis of a revolution.
From Foley Square, around the north end of City Hall Park, and down to Zuccotti Park, I took part in a march that surpassed in numbers and energy any protest I have joined at any point in my life. This was a diverse group of people, a mass of union members, poor folks, students, leftists, anarchists, working stiffs, hippies, yippies, hip-hoppers, buddhists, and everything in between – this was New York City, sure. But it was also a march that extended from the financial district to every other city in America, from Ithaca to San Diego, Boston to Seattle, Asheville to San Francisco.
On Wednesday, October 5th, the Occupation sent a message, and I’m pretty damn sure the powers that be heard it. I started to get emotional as I stood amongst hundreds, possibly thousands, at the corner of Trinity and Cedar chanting “All day, all week, occupy Wall Street” or “What does democracy look like? THIS is what democracy looks like!” or my own little interruption: “The Revolution is NOT for sale”. It was a moment to behold.
However, the differing opinions about “the next move” threaten to dull the glimmering hope of this momentous occasion. As the movement grows, and the arrest numbers grow, and the divergence of voices on the left continue to proliferate, I worry that what I saw once the march had reached its “end point” at Zuccotti Park will define the global occupation rather than the beauty of what went down just moments prior. I worry that those who support armed or at least hostile responses to police harassment will stop listening to those interested in process and peaceful protest, or that those who wish to march until their shoes are falling apart will simply wear themselves out. I worry that what happened once the sun went down – more police harassment, more violence, more wasted time – will tire the dedicated members of this revolution. We need to stay strong, and part of that is remembering that this is a marathon.
If you were able to participate in a solidarity march, make sure you remember what you saw. If you were supporting from afar, make sure you don’t let others ignore it. And on the whole, don’t let the images of cops busting in heads or pepper spraying a crowd sully the beauty of what happened today – it was a great moment in history, and we should certainly record it as such.