By John Iacovelli, Scribillare
LAST NIGHT I ATTENDED ONE OF THE MANY MEETINGS taking place in nearly nine hundred cities around the U.S. to spread the Occupy Wall Street movement beyond New York. Our meeting was in downtown Ft. Lauderdale, outside the main public library. It was the first meeting of the Ft. Lauderdale group. About two hundred people attended, at least half, I think, under thirty years old.
The first order of business was to read the Declaration of Occupation of New York City, by the Wall Street group. This is a list of grievances, mostly economic in nature, against corporations, and calls to people around the world to exercise their power against similar grievances. That call states “Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.”
The purpose of this first meeting was to provide a forum for individual statements. This was meant as an exercise to get to know each other, as well as share experiences so that the group can organize at later stages.
Here is a summary of those statements, and afterwards, a brief thought of my own regarding the Occupy Wall Street movement. I don’t pretend that these are any sort of official “minutes of the meeting.” They’re just my notes.
- An independent candidate for Congress named Andrew noted the fact that no stockbrokers responsible for the fradulent activities that caused the great recession have gone to jail. He also said that the U.S. has for too long occupied other countries… it is time for the people of the U.S. to occupy our own country.
- A young man from Estonia spoke of how the independence movement there started very small, only hundreds of people, but became a country. He advised the group to “start a democracy and grow it.”
- A young man whose wife was recently laid off by the school board due to cuts said “start locally,” don’t forget the state legislature, and try to fight for establishment of a recall procedure within our state.
- A young man named John expressed anger at reverse mortgage scams, and at politicians who say if people are unemployed or not rich it’s their own fault. He advised not to let this movement get hijacked by politicians; that the movement should be one of ideas, not political loyalties.
- A woman named Pat stated “we have no leaders. We are all leaders.”
- An older woman named Patty stated “I have Social Security and Medicare. My children, who are in their forties don’t have that promise. We need to work to erase the income caps so that we can insure funding for Social Security in the future.”
- A young man described the Occupy movement as an “immune response” because the system is diseased.
- A woman who had worked until recently for Merrill Lynch advised to close accounts at big banks and move money to credit unions and pointed to the latest moves to place transaction fees on debit cards as another sign of unlimited greed.
- A woman who had worked on Wall Street and who now runs an economic news agency said that in covering the 2007 crisis, she had seen firsthand that those inside the government had had no idea what was going on.
- Tim, a man who works for AT&T and who is a leader in the local Communications Workers of America called upon the group to stand up for those fighting for their wages and benefits and they would fight for yours. He stated that AT&T’s CEO’s compensation was 523 times that of the highest paid worker. He also said that the money for the golden parachutes paid to CEO’s whose companies failed should belong to the workers of those companies.
- A woman named Claudia read a poem she wrote about the corporations full of rot.
- A young man named Phillip, standing hand in hand with his wife, told of how difficult it is to support his family the way he would like to; that after being paid last week, today he has only $2.23 left. He wants to be heard. He was, at least by us.
- A woman named Debra talked of how she grew up with the American dream of owning one’s home, but that now gangsters have turned that dream into a pair of cement overshoes, and that people like her were drowning.
- A young man named Scott talked of Nikola Tesla’s discoveries as a way to free ourselves of the oil/energy dictatorship.
- A young man named Matt, an occupational therapist, talked of the suffering he sees in his work. He then discussed his wife, saying that she works for a large corporation in which a CEO refused to give back even one pay check at a time that the company was strapped for cash, and that consequently, seven people were let go to pay for that check; that his wife was the one tasked with firing those seven.
- Zach, a very young man not yet starting college worked to skip a grade and thinks he is a gifted computer sciences student; but he is petrified of all the loans that he will be burdened by.
- A man named Ed said he is saddened at the state of the republic and blames a dysfunctional two party system.
- A young woman named Amber wants everyone to know that the movement isn’t “hippies.” She and her young family have no health insurance. She wants to know why her young son has no health insurance.
- A woman named Cathy agreed with all who came before her and said that food is too expensive and unhealthy.
- A young woman whose name I didn’t catch said that flouride in the water, TV, and other food additives have dulled the population.
- A young woman named Sam said she threw up blood last week, went to the hospital, sat for hours with only a saline drip, and was charged $3000 for it.
- A young man named Kevin stated that Wall Street isn’t the only problem, pointing to politicians that take its money. He said we must have the ability to force recalls, so that the next generation has a country.
- Rudolfo, a young immigrant from Peru stated it’s impossible to find a job now, because so many people are all looking at the same time. He said that schools are failing — that his ten year old cousins aren’t even learning multiplication because the school budgets have been cut so much because so much money had been spent to bail out Wall Street. He asked, how can we destroy Social Security when Wall Street CEO’s get such huge bonuses? “We are here,” he said, “because we know the system is broken and we need to fix it.”
- A middle aged man whose name I missed said that politicians only understand money. He advised all to buy at least 50% of everything from local companies from now on, and to bank at local banks.
- A middle aged engineer named David said that healthcare costs had doubled in the last ten years, and that the insurance companies are denying benefits to keep their profits high. He called for abolishing the Fed and for overturning the Citizens United decision.
This part of the meeting ended, and a few planning notes were presented. The group was advised to keep expectations low, so that we have patience in building a movement. Logistics for future meetings and actions are to be handled online at Facebook and at the web site, and that communication is important because the corporate media presents only the corporate view, hence, we are the media for the group now. It was noted, too, that we could look to the history of the labor and civil rights movements to understand that it takes a long time to build a movement. And so the meeting ended.
As for my own opinion: it is undoubtedly a youth movement, though not exclusive to youth. It is plain that the common factor in all the attendees is the conviction that the two party system has failed. This is a movement outside of our political parties. And that’s a good thing.
ADVERT PRO NOBIS
IF YOU THINK THE LAMESTREAM MEDIA ARE A DISGRACE AND A HUGE OBSTACLE
to real change in America why haven’t you sent at least a few dollars to The Greanville Post (or a similar anti-corporate citizen’s media?). Think about it. Without educating and organizing our ranks our cause is DOA. That’s why our new citizens’ media need your support. Send your badly needed check to “TGP, P.O. Box 1028, Brewster, NY 10509-1028.” Make checks out to ”P. Greanville/ TGP”. (A contribution of any amount can also be made via Paypal and MC or VISA.)