POSTED ONE YEAR AGO AFTER MY VISIT TO OWS. I DON’T NEED ANYONE TO TELL ME WHAT I OBSERVED.
First I’d like to start off saying that Saturday was one of the most invigorating and inspiring days of my life. I came back from NYC with hope that the young people of this country, with the help of some members of the older generations that care about the future of this country, have the will and the fortitude to sweep away the existing corrupt corporate fascist state that exists in this country today. It was such a whirlwind day that my narrative is unlikely to have much structure. I’ll just unleash everything I can remember.
The Quinn clan piled into our minivan at 7:40 am and headed to the Big Apple. We hopped onto the PA Turnpike and headed east to the NJ Turnpike north. One thing you realize as you travel this route is that the entire storyline about needing hundreds of billions for infrastructure jobs is a crock of shit. The entire length of both Turnpikes is under construction, with lane widening, new bridges, new overpasses, and road paving. They are even working on the weekends. Any new money designated for infrastructure jobs wouldn’t be spent for three years. You know you are getting close to NYC when you see the refineries spewing whatever from their smokestacks and the smell of rotten eggs permeates the atmosphere. It was a beautiful sunny day, but winds of 30 to 40 mph were expected in the afternoon. It was going to be a bad hair day for Avalon. We reached the Lincoln Tunnel in about 90 minutes.
My mind is constantly thinking about crazy stuff. As we sped through the EZ Pass lane (only $9.50 for the privelage of entering NYC – $12.00 without EZ Pass) and entered the tunnel, you realize how susceptible it is to a terrorist. If there truly are dangerous terrorist cells roaming our countrysides, they must realize the damage they could inflict by filling a van or vans full of explosives and stopping in the Lincoln Tunnel and detonating them. The economic damage caused by shutting down one or more access points to NYC would be devastating. And there is nothing in place from the NYPD to keep that from happening. But they can shoot down a plane.
We parked in the first parking lot we could find at 35th and 8th Ave. You too can park in NYC for the low low price of only $44. At least it was valet parking. I was confident no one would want to steal anything from our twelve year old minivan unless they wanted old water bottles, candy wrappers and what I like to call debris. We sauntered over to 7th Avenue and hailed a cab. It was a non-minivan variety, so I had to sit up front with the angry cab driver. Are there any non-Muslim cab drivers in NYC? I told him to head to the World Trade Center. I can’t help it, I just love cab rides in NYC. It’s like being on a thrill ride at an amusement park. Our silent, angry Muslim cab driver proceeded to try and reach the World Trade Center in record time by cutting off any car that dared cross his path. He veered from right to left, ignoring those pesky red lights and pedestrians. I did find myself applying the invisible brake on my side and let out an occassional gasp as he worked his magic. He pulled off the 30 block trip in 10 minutes for under $10. I was truly impressed.
As we headed off in the direction of the WTC site, my first impression of the atmosphere was one of stifling, overwhelming, intimidating police presence. A convoy of at least 10 NYPD vans sped past us. There were cop cars parked everywhere. There were groups of policemen on every corner. And this was a few blocks from the protest site. I saw multiple NYPD buses and joked to Avalon that they were to transport us to the jails when the protest really got going.
It wasn’t hard to find the new World Trade Center. It is soaring above all the surrounding buildings already. It is already magnificant and will truly be a wonder of the world when it is finished.I tip my hat to the construction workers doing the fantastic work on this majestic building. I wanted to see the memorial fountains and park, but you need tickets well in advance so they can herd you like sheep through the plaza. Why they block off view of the plaza with tarps is beyond me. We were just gawking at the new tower and walking along when we stumbled upon Zuccotti Park. It was 10:00 am and from a distance it looked like a very small boy scout camp site. Your first reaction is – Wow! This is really small. This can’t be the spear point of a revolution. I was ready to wade into the fray, but Avalon needed a coffee and had to go pee pee. There is a really nice Burger King on the same block. I got in line with the boys to get the coffee and a couple sausage biscuits while Avalon went upstairs to the ladies room. One problem. The Burger King had been overrun by protestors using their bathrooms. They had put the men’s room out of order, so there was a line of men and women for the one bathroom. Only people with a receipt were allowed to go pee pee. My phone was in my pocket and with the general noise level in NYC being set on loud, I didn’t hear it as she tried to get me to bring up our receipt. Somehow she was able to charm her way into the bathroom, and all was well. Below is the view from the Burger King. Note the funny looking white hand made paper thing shaped like a bullhorn. The NPD has a law against bullhorns in NYC (shocking!!!). The protestors built their own bullhorn to amplify their speeches.
Man Made Bullhorn
Now it was time to find out for ourselves what this was all about. The second thing you notice after the smallness of the park is the overwhelming police presence. The street to the left is occupied by at least 25 NYPD vehicles. There are literally hundreds of uniformed policemen surrounding the park. There are metal police crowd control barriers encircling the site, so all who enter or leave must go through a narrow space.
Avalon had her camera charged and ready to document the truth so we could put it on TBP. I had printed up five copies of my favorite Ron Paul quote to hold up in support of the movement.
“TRUTH IS TREASON IN AN EMPIRE OF LIES” – Ron Paul
We entered the park and I wanted Avalon to take a picture of me and the two boys holding up our signs. As she was taking the picture a middle aged lady and young guy saw the signs and loved the quote. They wanted pictures too. I gave them both copies of the sign. It was a good start to our OWS experience.
The site is dotted with tents, tarp and tables. There were sleeping bags with only feet sticking out. There were rubbermaid containers and trash bags. There was one tent with a sign saying it was his living room and please don’t take pictures. The site was NOT dirty, smelly or unsanitary. The vibe coming from this park was not hostile. It was welcoming. All points of view were allowed to be shared. I had my twelve and fourteen year old sons with me and never once felt threatened or unsafe. This is truly a peaceful demonstration of free speech. The descriptions of the people Occupying Wall Street by the MSM are blatantly false. It has absolutely nothing to do with the two establishment political parties. It is not a Democratic Tea Party. It isn’t the Republican neo-con version of the Tea Party either. But it does have the feel of the original Boston Tea Party, telling the authorities to stick it up their asses.
There are many different views being shared, but the prevailing message is that a few powerful men have corrupted our system and have looted the wealth of the hard working middle class. I saw no one representing the Free Shit Army looking for more handouts. From a demographic viewpoint, this protest is clearly being led by the Millenial Generation. There are no Boomers pulling the strings behind the scenes and calling the shots. George Soros and Jesse Jackson haven’t hijacked the agenda. I would estimate that 60% of the crowd were Millenials, with 20% Gen-X and 20% Baby Boomers. I would estimate that 75% of the crowd was white, with 15% hispanic and 10% black. The stereotypes being portrayed by the MSM get blown out of the water when you see for yourself. A young black guy with a NOBAMA shirt on marched by us holding an End the Fed sign. That was the last thing I thought I would see. Later in the day I was handed a Bernanke buck by a young black man as he described the evils of inflation and the Federal Reserve. Does that sound like what you are hearing on Fox News?
We slowly meandered through the park soaking in everything. There was a positive feeling as you walked among the protestors. It was invigorating to see democracy and free speech happening in the public square. These people in a few short weeks had created a community. They don’t all agree on the issues, but they are open to different points of view, while understanding who the enemy really is – the Wall Street bankers, Federal Reserve, politicians and mega-corporations. These people are here for the long haul. They have set up there own dining area and supporters from around the country are sending food.
The owner of the property and the City were ready to move the protestors so they could clean the park. The protestors jumped into action with their own Sanitation department and cleaned the park themselves.
We passed a Medical “center” were registered nurses provided any medical treatment needed by the protestors or visitors. This “revolution” which has spread across the country and around the globe is being turbo charged by social media, alternative media, and the internet. The mainstream media continues to misrepresent the movement because it is a threat to their corporate owners. There is no electricity or running water in the park. I saw a recharging station set up where a gas powered generator was being used to power multiple power strips. There were cell phones and computers plugged into the power strips to recharge so the protestors could continue to get the message and pictures out to the world.
There were areas where anyone could make their own sign. An older gentleman was manning a little contraption and making protest buttons at a pace of one every 10 seconds. Jimmy and Michael both got buttons and proudly displayed them on their shirts. The whole park had the feel of a festival. As you walked around you were anticipating seeing something new and unusual. To those who think it is just a disorganized mass of left wing hippies, you are badly mistaken. They have the week plotted out on a black board. They have working groups and protest activities planned.
We had been on-site for about an hour when we saw a group gathering to march somewhere. They had flags and began to circle the park chanting anti-bank slogans. They were headed for the banks. I learned later that some of these people were arrested as they occupied a Citibank branch and refused to yield. There was talk of a march on Times Square at 5:00 pm, but we figured it wouldn’t amount to much. The protestors seemed too few to cause much problem in Times Square.
As it approached 11:30 we needed to skeedadle. Avalon had booked ferry tickets to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island at noon. I was kind of bummed to leave so soon. I wasn’t sure if we’d make our way back to the park before heading to Times Square. We headed for Battery Park to catch our ferry. Along the way we passed the iconic Bull.
Even the damn bull is surrounded by police barriers. Are they worried someone is going to do some bull tipping? As you walk along the streets of Lower Manhattan you are struck by the hordes of Chinese and Japanese and Europeans in groups. They may be eating our lunch economically, but they sure love the glitz and glamour of NYC. Thank God Avalon booked the tickets in advance. It was a two hour wait if you didn’t reserve. We made it up to the processing center in 15 minutes. The winds had picked up to at least 30 mph and the NY Harbor was filled with white caps. Avalon has an irrational fear of water and drowning. The boys and I seize upon this fear to describe the potential capsizing of our ferry. And there is always – “The sea was angry that day Jerry, like an old man sending back soup at a deli.”
Eventually we were led into a huge white tent. Welcome to government drone overkill. We are tourists going to gawk at the Statue of Liberty and try to learn something about our heritage. They did the whole TSA routine on every tourist. Belts off, jewelry off, cell phones, wallets, keys all in a bin. Everyone through a metal detector. Agents questioning you. What a joke. What exactly is a terrorist going to do to the Statue of Liberty? If they aren’t going to pick an easy target like the Lincoln Tunnel, why would they try anything to a statue. This is just another example of government acting like they are protecting us from something, when there is nothing to be protected from. A couple terrorists could walk into Battery Park with a machine guns and take out a thousand people in five minutes.
In a few more minutes we were on our way. The ferry didn’t capsize. There is no more inspirational view than seeing the Statue of Liberty up close and personal.
We had visited the Statue of Liberty before, so we stayed onboard to Ellis Island. We walked through the museum exhibits and watched a movie describing the bravery and sacrifice that immigrants made to come to this country. The conditions that immigrants lived in at the turn of the century were beneath squalor. These immigrants built this country. They built the skyscrapers that dot the NYC skyline. They fought and died in WWI and WWII. They did the blue collar jobs that grew the GDP of this country. Many of the ancestors of these immigrants are the protestors occupying Zuccotti Park. The American Dream that sustained the new immigrants to this country has been destroyed by the greed and corruption of the bankers and CEOs living in the buildings built by those immigrants. It just so happened they were having an Alcatraz exhibit and we walked through. Alcatraz was shut down in 1963. In 1969 young Native Americans seized the island and occupied it for nineteen months, bringing publicity to the plight of American Indians. They accomplished their goal through peaceful protest and willingness to stick it out for almost two years. I thought it was an interesting lesson on a day when young occupiers on Wall Street are starting their second month of occupation. After doing an on-line search for my grandfather’s arrival at Ellis Island we headed back to NYC. The view heading back was even more spectacular.
Back on dry land we headed to the bastion of revolutionaries everywhere – T.G.I. Fridays. After a quick lunch (How about $19 for a cheeseburger? – No inflation my fat ass) we decided to go back to Zuccotti Park. We couldn’t get enough of this lesson in democracy. When we arrived it was bustling with activity. It was twice as crowded as it was at 10:00 am. We were drawn to a circle where a few guys were playing drums and bongos while three other guys were break dancing. They were extremely entertaining and got the crowd to chant ECONOMIC FREEDOM while they performed. I looked at the crowd. Young, old and in between all had smiles on their faces. The vibe of this park was about positive change, not the negativity you see from politicians and MSM pundits.
We again waded into the chaos to see what was happening. There were film crews and people being interviewed. There were many more signs and banners. The park is now a stop on the double decker tourist bus tours that criss cross the city. A double decker bus was stopped and the 95 Asian and 5 American tourists were snapping away with their cameras. The perception among many people, put there by the MSM, is that the young people in this park are dumb and lazy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many understand the true cause of our economic troubles and the never ending and accelerating debasement of our currency. The MSM wants the ignorant masses to think the people in this park hate capitalism and the rich. This is another false storyline fed to the sheeple. The people in this park KNOW we don’t have capitalism. We have a corporate/banking kleptocracy. I chatted with these two young guys. They would fit in perfectly on TBP.
The MSM want these protestors to fit into their preconceived ideological holes. Again, they are wrong. Is this guy a left winger? Is he a right winger? He’s neither. He understands both wings are corrupt. He knows the whole system is a sham. He knows who is responsible.
These people heard Romney say that corporations are people too. They get it. They know our politicians from both parties are captured by the mega-corporations and do their bidding. They know why the Federal Tax code is 60,000 pages. They know who contributes to Obama, Romney and the rest of the bought off hacks running this country. They know Perry and the rest of the fundamentalists are hypocrites. They know the system can’t be changed incrementally by electing the same people who put the system in place.
As we walked through the winding path in the park, I was handed materials from various occupants. One leaflet was titled “ARE YOU AN ANARCHIST?” After reading it, I’d have to say yes. I liked the quote at the end of the leaflet – “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” – Emma Goldman. There were some Chinese people protesting AGAINST the communist oppression in their country. We came upon an older gentleman named Harry Braun. He was giving a speech to anyone who would listen about convening a Constitutional Convention and implementing Article V of the Constitution to bypass Congress and the 35,000 lobbyists that control the agenda in Washington DC. All points of view were being broadcast in this town square.
We then met up with the youngest protestor of the day.
I explained to my sons that this entire protest was really about their futures. The past and current generations in control had saddled their generation with unpayable debts and a system that will eventually collapse under the weight of military expenditures and entitlement promises that can never be honored. Young people have done what they were told to do by their parents and are left holding the bag, as the jobless recovery enters its third year. Meanwhile the Wall Street bankers are paying themselves billions in bonuses because somehow bank profits are “soaring”.
Some of the older generation get it. They realize that they are possibly the last generation to live a better life than their parents generation. This movement isn’t young versus old or poor versus rich. It is about middle class Americans having a chance at a better life. The current system makes that an impossiblity. It is built upon lies and unsustainable debt creation. This lady gets it.
When the system is utterly corrupt and unfixable, it is our right to revolt. Thomas Jefferson made that clear over two hundred years ago:
“God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.
The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is
wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts
they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions,
it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. …
And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not
warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of
resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as
to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost
in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from
time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
It is its natural manure.”
The young people leading this protest in a tiny park, surrounded by hoardes of armed police, amongst the skyscrapers built by their fathers and grandfathers, are sparking a revolution that is spreading across the globe. Technology is being used like never before to spread truth and ideas. This makes those in control very nervous. And they should be nervous. Their corrupt crony capitalist system is begining to crumble. This little town square sparked protests across the world on Saturday.
The rebirth of democracy is inspiring to those willing to enter the fray. If you stand on the sidelines and scorn and ridicule those willing to fight for justice, then you are part of the problem. Your world will change anyway, but you won’t be part of the change.
The occupiers were completely peaceful while we were there. The police who surrounded the site wore scowls on their faces as if they were looking for a fight. As we walked along the outside of the park Avalon was snapping pictures and the policewoman yelled at her for blocking the sidewalk. I thought I said shut up under my breath as we passed the cranky policewoman, but Avalon heard me, so maybe it wasn’t under my breath. I want to stress that the police presence is absolutely overwhelming. If they are given the order, they could clear that park in five minutes with their manpower. A peaceful example of democracy and free speech could turn into something completely different if someone does something stupid.
This guy said he was a veteran. He was yelling at the cops, declaring this isn’t the same country he fought for.
Here is a miscellaneous collection of signs we saw around Zuccotti Park. Do these people fit the description you are hearing from the MSM? Are these people communists? Are these people socialists? Are these people stupid? Are these people lazy bums?
NO. These people are YOU.
We finally decided it was time to head up to Times Square. Avalon’s ulterior motive for this entire trip was to get a bowl of won ton soup at Ruby Foos at 49th and Broadway. It was around 5:30 pm. We thought the protest portion of our trip was complete. Time for some NYC fun. We started walking away from the protest and in a few minutes we were next to the Brooklyn Bridge where a week or so ago 700 protestors had been arrested after the NYPD misled them into believing they were allowed to march on the bridge. Then we approached the City Hall area. I assume Bloomberg lives in one of these grand buildings fit for a billionaire. As we approached a street corner, Avalon spotted one of the thousands of security cameras keeping a Big Brother eye on the citizens of NYC. 60 Minutes had detailed the scary 1984 like ability of the NYPD to see everyone and everything in NYC. We took a picture of them taking pictures of us. I’m sure we went into some special database. Only anarchists and troublemakers would take a picture of a security camera.
We eventually stopped on a corner to hail a cab for our return to Times Square. The goal was to be picked up by Ben Bailey in the Cash Cab, so we could show how smart we are. Michael declared that he would handle all the history questions since he has a 105 average so far in Social Studies. He is studying the American Revolution. We have been discussing the similarities and differences between that revolution and what is happening today in our country. As we waited for a cab, what appeared on the opposite corner was classic NYC.
A man with a pink dress and a cowboy hat was coming our way. We told ourselves he had to be going to a costume party, but it was only October 15. The people he was with were not dressed in costumes. Maybe it was a breast cancer awareness month statement. Or, maybe he just thought he looked good in pink.
We eventually hailed down a cab. The driver asked where we were going. When I told him Times Square he let out a sigh. I wondered why, since that would be a decent fare for him. He grunted to get in. Shockingly, he was a muslim. My guess was Pakastani. I expected another silent ride of terror, but he struck up a conversation with Avalon. We told him we were coming from the Occupy Wall Street site and he looked at me and said I looked like a Wall Street guy. He’s lucky I was in a good mood. His cell phone rang and he began to jabber in an absolutely indecipherable language. I think I heard the word infidel, but I’m not sure. The only scarier thing than a cab ride in NYC is a cab ride while the driver is talking on his cell phone. I swear we almost hit at least five other vehicles during the trip. I let out a few visible gasps during the ride. As we approached 34th street it was complete gridlock. I told the driver to let us out and we’d walk to Times Square. It was pushing 6:00 pm as we approached Times Square. It sure looked extra crowded. Then we realized that Occupy Wall Street had marched to Times Square. It was a sea of people for as far as the eye could see.
My first thought was that the whole spectacle was awesome. There were at least 20 times as many people in this protest as there were at Zuccotti Park. The atmosphere was electric. We were at 42nd street and there was some sort of platform where anyone could get up to speak to the crowd. Since bullhorns were not allowed, the speaker would say three or four words and those around them would shout the word simultaneously, becoming a human bullhorn. I loved it. The crowd would begin chanting things like:
Banks got bailed out, we got sold out.
The people united will never be defeated.
I didn’t think I’d get to use my protest sign again, but I was wrong. I unfolded it and held it up for the crowd to see.
Again the police presence was stifling. They use the metal barriers to funnel the protestors where they want them. As Avalon waded deep into the crowd to take videos and pictures, I observed the crowd and the police. The four police men and women near us looked like they were 21 years old. I looked at their faces and their eyes. They looked confused. They looked worried. They weren’t scared, because the crowd was not scary. It was citizens utilizing their right to free speech. I wondered what was going through the minds of these young policemen. They must realize they are part of the 99%. These protestors are representing their interests. If and when the order comes to inflict pain on the citizens protesting, I wonder how they will react.
For those who think these crowds are nothing but young hoodlums and troublemakers, one protestor said it all with his sign.
The crowd was made up of normal people. It was made up of young, middle aged and old people. It was made up of men and women. It was made up of white people, black people, asian people, and hispanic people. It was made up of Republicans and Democrats. It was made up of you and me.
The crowd even had a few sheeple and guys wearing barrels.
After spending about an hour watching the speeches and joining in on the chants, the girl announced that the police were arresting protestors at 47th street. This spurred the loudest chant yet:
THIS IS A PEACEFUL PROTEST!!!
We needed to get to 49th Street for Avalon’s won ton soup. I felt like the Blues Brothers on a mission from God. We would not be deterred. We fought our way through the crowd to 45th street and we were about to go down to 6th Avenue and try to circle the protest. Then right in front of us a protestor starts to shimmy up the stop light to get on top.
When he reached the top, the crowd let out a roar of approval. He began to lead a chant that resonated for blocks:
WHOSE SQUARE? OUR SQUARE!!!!
I was expecting the cops to come rushing down the sidewalk and pull him down. But they didn’t move. The chant went on for minutes. The whole scene got surreal as a police helicopter hovered over the crowd in Times Square. Again, intimidation tactics and the threat of overwhelming force are ever present. With two teenage boys, we decided it was time to exit stage left.
As we walked down 45th towards 6th Avenue we could finally breath. Then directly in front of me was this dude with his sign. You constantly go from the surreal to the comic in NYC.
I told Avalon to take his picture. She took the picture and the guy then asked her if he could smell her ass. She thought he was joking, so she said sure. He then bent down trying to smell her ass and she had to run away from him. We laughed hysterically as we made our way to 6th Avenue. What a day. We made our way to 49th street and our quest was almost complete. We entered the Holy Grail of Ruby Foos and sat down at a table. There was a young woman with her seven year old or so daughter eating at the table next to us. The woman had noticed the protest buttons the boys were wearing and asked if we were coming from the protest. We told her we were from Philly and had come up to see for ourselves. It just so happens that she was one of the 1st 100 people who slept at Zuccotti Park on the 1st day of the protests. She said they were terrified as the police, in full riot gear, surrounded them for the entire night. She works on the Occupy Wall Street Journal and she gave me her contact information. I hope she will join the dialogue on TBP.
Finally, we had reached our destination. The goal was within reach. And before long, there it was. A gigantic bowl of Ruby Foos won ton soup. Avalon was heard to say, “Life is like a bowl of Ruby Foos won ton soup, you never know what you’re going to get.”
We departed Ruby Foos at 9:00 pm and headed for our minivan at 35th street. We passed the police on horses that had earlier disbursed the crowd through their threats of bodily harm. I left NYC with a renewed hope for our country. A new spirit has ignited in a tiny public square in lower Manhattan. Our forefathers would be proud of these young people. It is time to get involved. It is time to send the oligarchy a message. Their time is short. The people are going to take this country back.
And so ended our lesson in democracy and most excellent adventure in NYC.