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#OccupyWallStreet : Opinion and Photos

October 4, 2011

Friend of the Brooklyn Bugle and avid photographer Tim Schreier posted the following note about #occupywallstreet on his Facebook page today. He’s given us permission to repost his photos of some of those demonstrating as well as his personal observations. We thought that they were well worth posting here.

Many of my friends may have noted that there is a giant protest going on here in NY. Hundreds (at some points, thousands) of people have taken up camp in the Financial District. A bit of national media has paid some attention to the “Occupiers”. I had the opportunity to spend some time there this weekend, photographing (go to my Flickr page and various blogs, news, etc that have picked them up, if you are interested) and talking to quite a few people. Like many, I was suspect of the motivations of a few of the people; the “professional protesters” or the “I was there, where is my t-shirt protesters”. To be honest, there were a few of those types there but there were also many, many people who were genuinely frustrated.

Frustrated to the point where this was their only outlet to be heard. Their frustrations were diverse; healthcare, jobs, education, war, taxation, balance of power, etc. I think because of this diversity it appears, to the media, to be unorganized chaos and overwhelming to the point of comedy. In a world of “bumper sticker phlosophers” it seems unorganized not to have a single focus, this is one of the big problems the media has in covering this story; they like nice, neat, clear and succinct packages of thought, easy to bundle and relate to. Clearly, here, is not the case.

The message is diverse, as the people who are trying to send it. Why Wall Street and not Washington? This has been my question from the start. One of the most ovewhelming grievances is regarding taxation issues and the feeling that people are taxed more than the corporations.

Another issue is the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United and the FEC. It is overwhelming sentiment that Corporations now receive all the rights of a citizen but none of the responsibilities. It became clear to me that this was, in some ways, the Tea Party of the Left. A band of people from diverse backgrounds with diverse frustrations and diverse motivations.

It is difficult in this age of “sound bite” and “low attention” media coverage for the press to get it’s hands around this and other protests or occupations. The people here have similar frustrations to the Tea Party movement, in that they have a need to be heard. One of the major difference that I can see is whom should be taxed more. For the Tea Party they think any tax is evil for these people it appears they have a desire for a larger contribution to be made by the corporations. Healthcare and education is another; the Tea Party does not want government involved in any healthcare, these people feel it is an inalienable right for the government to provide more healthcare coverage and education for the young. The “Occupiers” have a deep distrust for corporations, it appears the Tea Party does not share this distrust. The “Occupiers” feel that “trickle down” is a myth created by corporations or self annointed “job creators” the Tea Party feels the less we tax corporations the more they will create jobs.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been down there to listen. Yes, there are the typical professional protesters who want to be heard for the sake of being heard (perhaps that is me in writing this too) but I walked away with a great appreciation for what they are trying to do. They are sick of apathy. They care about the direction and path our country is currently taking. They want to be heard. They should be heard.

They have a map of destination cities. Chances are your city may be on that map. I know DC is coming up in the next few weeks and that is something I personally welcome. I urge anyone to stop and listen to what they are saying, you may not agree with them at all but they are passionate, caring, committed and well within their rights to be vocal and be heard. I would rather live in a country, town, state where people express themselves and demand to be heard than sit on a couch and brood.

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