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Occupy Wall Street, shows power of small groups

I visited #occupywallstreet tonight to see for myself what the crowd is like, and see what was going on for myself.

It's a lot smaller than I expected, maybe 500 people.

Shows just the power of a small group of people and how they can get a group of issues onto the national stage. Yes, I know, I saw it on a small night. Folks I talked to said the crowds ebb and flow and that when it was warmer, last week (tonight was cold, wet, and windy) the crowds were bigger and more energized.

But now this protest is facing a few big tests: 1. colder weather is coming soon. 2. the Mayor wants the protest to move around the city so that the park can be cleaned up. We'll see if he can convince folks to move peacefully. If he pushes too hard he'll give this group the airtime they need to grow their ranks.

I met up with other Google+'ers there. +Arun Shroff +Rocky Barbanica +JoAnne Kao and +Ashish Caleb Gattegno That was enjoyable, but because I haven't had enough time to get to know this group I'm going to stay away from trying to explain anything deeper. There are plenty here who are covering the politics and the undercurrents of what's causing this, and associated protests around the US at #occupywallstreet .

There is anger here, though, at the system itself and that anger hasn't been fully expressed. That might scare people, but it also is healthy, I think, for our democracy. That alone energized me and gave me hope for the future.

Our country has seen rough times in the past and other protest movements that thrived in the 1960s, for instance. It'll be interesting to see where this one goes and how, or if, it continues to have an effect on our national debate.
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Enslaved By Debt
© Surazeus
2011 10 12

I walk around cement town
looking for good paying jobs.
My resumes fall like leaves
blowing lost in autumn breeze.
I went to college four years
and earned a business degree.
Now I owe ten thousand bucks
wandering penniless and free.
When the church once ran the state
people got burned at the stake.
Now the bankers run the state
people are enslaved by debt.

I planned to buy a clean house
and marry the one I love.
I wanted to have some kids
and watch them play laughing games.
But rich brokers on Wall Street
gambled fake securities.
Ten thousand people lost homes
and gather in city parks.
When the church once ran the state
people got burned at the stake.
Now the bankers run the state
people are enslaved by debt.

Ten thousand lost people stand
holding signs in city parks.
Now we occupy Wall Street
demanding justice be served.
If we steal a hundred bucks
we spend twenty years in jail.
They steal fifty billion bucks
then drink wine and go play golf.
When the church once ran the state
people got burned at the stake.
Now the bankers run the state
people are enslaved by debt.

I dig a hole down in the ground
and plant a seed in wet soil.
The seed grows into a tree
and apples fall in my hand.
I build a boat from pine wood
and sail sparkling mountain lake.
I catch a fresh wriggling fish
and roast it on crackling fire.
When the church once ran the state
people got burned at the stake.
Now the bankers run the state
people are enslaved by debt.
 
+Robert Scoble I guess the big question I have for you is - This has been characterized as a bunch of "dirty hippies", slackers looking for a free ride. Did you get that impression?
mark a
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scoble, you or someone else should interview them. figure out their stories. college education? jobs? how did they reach this conclusion. i think it's extremely important to know this data.
 
+Leo Soderman some of the crowd was definitely "dirty hippies." But there were plenty of everyday folks there too. I saw old folks, parents with kids, and plenty of young kids who looked like my son.
 
It's not that the system is broken, it's that the system is now designed to be broken. Difficult to protest every aspect of crash at once!
 
+mark a there are plenty of people who are doing just that over at #occupywallstreet -- these are media-savvy folks. They might be angry, but they have phones and laptops and cameras of their own.
 
Thus far, I've only demonstrated by making a couple of changes in the way and the companies with which I've decided to do business. (Like moving my money from BofA to a local credit Union)

As small a gesture as this is, I feel like it's part of the solution.
 
+Robert Scoble Congratulations. I was waiting for you to dive into this issue. You now know more about Occupy Wall Street than 98% of the mainstream media. They want Wall Street crooks to go to prison. They want an end to these stupid wars.
 
Funny how protestors are often classified as anything other than protestors. It's interesting how often I hear that one reason must be attached to this event.
 
They had a bigger crowd dancing at the Steve Young birthday flash mob.
mark a
 
+Robert Scoble I see, thanks. I need to see the interviews when they come out. many have the 'dirty hippie' impression. a non-biased cross section of the crowd would be helpful for further analysis.
 
+mark a It would be difficult to collect accurate data about the demographics of supporters at the base camp - ESPECIALLY at the base camp. Those are the people who are young enough and with not as much to lose or attend to to stay day after day. And though Zucotti Park is the center, there are now groups all across the country and each one looks slightly different based on what the local culture is like. Then you have all the people at home supporting through donations, spreading of information, etc, but who can't be there because they have jobs and families. It's hard to nail this thing down and quantify it exactly, but if there were a way to do that it would be interesting.
 
Demographic data would only probably show the same as any random cross section of the population.
 
Thanks for posting this. You DO get around!
 
They are opposed to illegal foreclosures, bank bailouts, outsourcing jobs, inequality, crony capitalism, lobbyists, dysfunctional Congress, cutting social programs while funding idiotic wars.
 
+mark a Yes, I've seen that. And I think that still doesn't even accurately reflect who supports and who doesn't. Let me put it this way, I've been mightily surprised by some of my friends who've not been vocal but then suddenly share something on Facebook that is pro-Occupy Wall Street. And they are across a pretty wide spectrum in wealth and ages and types of jobs, etc.
mark a
 
+Jennifer Williams I suppose this is the case aside from the staunch extreme right wingers, bankers and some of the super rich. what the movement needs are more groups such as police, firemen and politicians behind the cause. this would give it some serious leverage. unfortunately the police are defending those being targeted because they get paid massively by them.
 
Actually I'm jealous of your marching,we can't allow to do this in China.
If we do,we die
 
+Stanley Preschutti I have a few others, but they just weren't that good. The light was really low and I struggled to get close enough to the real action. Plus, you've seen many of the signs and other things I captured tonight, so this one was the only one I felt good enough about sharing.
Eddie K
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You don't even need 500 people, +Robert Scoble. 50 people in the Senate can, and does, bring this country to a halt : /
 
I wonder what's going to happen with the #occupy movement once actual winter sets in.
 
+Robert Scoble I need to give you mad props for not throwing around opinions without doing a little investigating on your own.
 
Luckily plenty of cities are being occupied in warmer states, and over 1200 total at last count. Those far outnumber the people at the main Occupy Wallstreet event in NYC, though that's the main focus I certainly believe the others can keep everything afloat while it's snowing in New York.
 
+Robert Scoble You are an influential voice in the tech community and it was heartening to read your careful and measured comments. Your assessment that the reaction of government could be a catalyst for an escalation is spot on. I have been less circumspect in my analysis as political philosophy and theory have been a life time avocation of mine. Trying to be objective about this movement has been a challenge since the tactics to appeal to the emotions and the ability to spread the message via the new media, while straight out of Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, resonates. The issues raised on an individual basis are clearly valid and merit looking into. The real danger lies in our collective willingness to shut our eyes to the forces at play behind what we see in the streets. Yet we do that at a great peril to this democracy of ours.
 
Some protested in Dallas...didn't last long and they did not have a clear vision. I don't think some of them had a clue why they were actually out there. Probably just had nothing better to do. They should probably be looking for a job.
 
One must see the mayor wanting to clean the park for what it is. 
 
If you voted for Bush you should pay for that mess. If you voted for Obama you should pay for that mess. If you did not vote then you should have to help pay for all of it because you did not speak up!
Register and Vote that's your voice!
 
+Michail Kalman What are the "forces at play behind what we see in the streets" that we are shutting our eyes to? I'm confused.
 
I am still trying to get a grip on this movement myself. I am a business owner and don't agree with all of the views, however, I do agree with some, so I feel a bit conflicted.
 
+Marni Melrose the beauty of it as I understand it is that no one there is much different than you, it is not a solid groupthink in terms of agenda, people have many different ideas.
 
+John Jackington Hard to make this short and simple, but I will try. In every situation that involves the gathering of individuals with some grievance or grievances vis a vis the established governmental or political order, it becomes an opportunity for small, highly disciplined, led and organized entities to become involved. This has happened in virtually all similar historical circumstances regardless of geographic location, type of political order. These groups tend to be very well financed, quite flexible in their public face and public pronouncements, are able to easily make themselves not be apparent or move to the forefront of the action, as the circumstances warrant. It has happened in the French Revolution, American Revolution, Russian Revolution. More recently it has happened during the late 1960s here in the US. Some political and historical observers would include in these the organization(s) that subscribe to the Saul Alinsky school of radicalism and there are some indications in the present OWS activities that they are present both in the open but much more so in the background. There are indicators, most quite subtle in the form of activities that on the surface would seem innocuous tying such groups to events that took place in the US and abroad at international economic gatherings. My suggestion is to read and analyse all that you can get about the OWS, very objectively, especially questioning at each step, who stands to gain the most by these activities, especially as they may, may is the operative word, morph into something more violent as time goes on and the demands become more shrill and focused and confrontations with the authorities become more acute.
 
+Michail Kalman Maybe I'm misunderstanding your point, but this just isn't a radical school in any fashion at this point. It's leaderless, purposefully amorphous, I'd even say markedly non-violent. I don't even know if Alinsky would be proud of it as it doesn't really have organizational hallmarks of the 1960s. I mean if you are afraid of what it "can become" that's just plain inevitable in any movement. Alinsky's name often gets thrown around (by the right most often but also by the left) for different reasons, I'm not sure where you are really coming from here, but I can guess. Rules for Radicals gets tossed around as a fear card most often when people are afraid of power changing hands. If you are afraid of what will happen, well, so am I, quite frankly... but I am more afraid of what happens if things stay the same.
 
+John Jackington All excellent points. Let me start out by saying that if our system proves itself, again, as adaptable and responsive to change, than things will not be the same. Wether the changes will satisfy or not, that remains to be seen. I totally agree with your assessment of the current state of affairs especially as it concerns the OWS movement. My own natural prejudice is to look at events from a longer view prism and analyze events and even people over the longer haul, more from a historical perspective. My reading of history is such that lead me to conclude that events more likely than not can and will be used to ends totally unintended by most of those in the streets at the moment. I am not as sanguine about the future as events can turn into a totally different direction on a specific local scene at first and than take on a broader context. Such a turn of events could come about quite spontaneously or be "urged" along by the elements I mentioned that are inevitably present around such social upheavals. Whether it will be the case in this instance remains to be seen, I would certainly hope not, but as history is my only guide, I will not be surprised if things turn out differently than you and I hope.
 
I have noticed that many people participating in these protests are not fully able to point out what it is exactly what they are angry about. This doesn't mean that they are wrong, it is just a very complex situation. I came across this excellent post yesterday, which I think points out the sources of anger quite accurately: Warning, it contains a collection of some seriously disturbing statistic of the current situation in the US:
http://www.businessinsider.com/what-wall-street-protesters-are-so-angry-about-2011-10?op=1
Kevin M
 
The crowds change, grow and shrink. What you see there is the "core".
 
Awesome post! I like the combination of photos with background stories :)
 
+Robert Scoble , were you at the Sheraton Towers after lunchtime? I was going to nudge you at the Starbucks, but had to run to a meeting.
 
This is reminiscent of the late 1960's until the SDS, The Black Pannthers and their fellow travelers got into it and effectively cooped all these wild eyed dreamers. It has all happened before and is liable to happen again. Just a word of caution from a student of history!
 
+Robert Scoble I found this video that paints an interesting picture of hypocrisy between the US government in Libya compared to the wall street protests.

http://youtu.be/zjfhOPCPJnE

How do you feel about how your government is handling the protests over the pond? and more importantly how your media seems to be censoring the protests
 
Thanks for this post +Robert Scoble I had to google "occupy wall street" to find out what this is all about as it has received next to zero coverage in mainstream media over here in the uk. The only coverage i saw was of the protesters rioting on a bridge somewhere in the USA. No mention of why they were rioting or what happened to them. 
 
+Robert Scoble I hope you are reading the comments you have garnered. They fully prove to me the danger of providing even the slightest equivocal position on such a topic by someone as well recognized as you to bring out all those that are inclined to read into your comments the kinds of pseudo-intellectual and ideological validation they so desperately crave yet do not deserve nor are present in your original posting. But they do not care as they have achieved the podium they otherwise would not have gotten, to present their one sided half baked ideas and now have an opportunity to harangue your many followers who may be still undecided as to what is the truth behind OWS and where it may be heading.
 
+Bob Mulholland thanks for the info. Will read it tonight when I finish work and have access to a pc. It is curious to note the lak of coverage this is getting in he mainstream media. Have they been gagged?
 
Please give these people all the visibility you can, do not edit, do not try to make sense of it. The sunshine will either help them grow or retreat.
 
Can I bring up a hole in this protest the want to bring down big companys why are they useing facebook twiter and g pluse all own by big companys
 
The Denver Post has interviews with people involved in Occupy Denver: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_19101415?source=pkg
http://photos.denverpost.com/mediacenter/2011/10/occupy-denver-continues-to-protest/#more-22301

I also received an e-mail requesting help with food for the protesters that started out: "Dear Ladies". While I live too far away to participate, I do have this mental image of women in gingham aprons fixing tea and cookies. The point being, behind every "dirty hippie" are many mainstream folks with similar goals, supporting these actions.
 
+mike segee but that's not true, they want the finance companies that caused this recession to be punished for messing up in the first place

its not about rich vs poor, its about the rich who screwed up, ruined a lot of the 99%'s lives and got bailed out by the government using the 99%s tax payers money and haven't been accountable for their greed.
 
Good review Robert. Thanks.
 
I think story about power has more to do with the power of the media. They want a liberal alternative to the burgeoning Tea Party to talk about so here it is. It was big news that there was going to be a "Millionaire March" coming up Wall Street. It was in all over the national news, a big deal. It went by where I work and was more like 200 unemployed people. There are big important things going on in the world to observe, uncover, analyze, and broadcast, but this gang isn't it.
 
I support the #occupywallstreet folks; I consider them patriots and believe that they have more in common with our "Founding Fathers" than media creatures who ride cross country providing content for Fox News. My concern is that this needs to be turned into a political movement. In order to be effective it needs to evolve from an angry rant against banksters and into a movement that can bring pressure to bear at the ballot box. If you want to keep near to the theme, look at what money has done to the political process. The Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. FEC perverts the process. Evidence of this is becoming clear. It is subverting Government of, by and for the people.
There is an under current here that favors #occupywallstreet, this movement pits "traditional media" against social media and the stakes are very high. The Network news brand depends on them being perceived as reliable, unbiased sources of news. Like it or not, Fox News audience believes that they are "Fair and Balanced". This movement is nonlinear, it is pushing against the status quo. The first and most likely "disruption" from this movement will be the emergence of social media (Twitter, Facebook, and Google+) gaining equity as "valid" sources of information. The major networks, with the possible exception of FOX because their audience won't care if they cover this badly, stand to take a big hit. This is a young crowd, coveted by advertisers, this hit could stay with them for a long time. Compelling story indeed.
 
A bunch of whining kids walking around with their iPad 2's and iPhone's complaining and protesting about what exactly now? How about #wasteofeveryonestime
 
reddit.com/r/politics and r/occupywallstreet are great places to get updates on OWS. Those are also great ways to understand what these protesters are trying to accomplish if you haven't really been following along.
 
+Mark Cathey Hey better yet let's hear your (I'm sure very informed and coherent) position on why everything is fine and why it should stay the same.

Otherwise, get off your ass and make your own case for what needs to change. I'm guessing you just don't measure up... Your knowledge of economics, politics, or history? I'm guessing you'd be dominated by not only the average core supporter of OWS, but probably even by a majority of the attendance at the park, including the "dirty hippies."

Usually the people who sit back and do nothing but broadly deride are the ones who have the most fear, and mostly fear of their own inadequacies. Sound about right?
 
+john jackington thanks for making such a strong opinion about me after the one sentence I wrote. Typical of someone like you, everyone is free and happy and everyone can have there own opinion (as long as you agree with it, right?) 
 
+john jackington secondly I have never used the term 'dirty hippie'. 
 
+Mark Cathey sorry, you are correct, "whining kids with iPads" and "wasteoftime" was the extent of your critique. And spare me the sympathy ploy, I myself have often questioned their focus or extent of goals, I've even remarked about their appearance as rich college kids, "poor by choice", hipsters, etc. but I support people getting involved in thier civic process, and this is how it starts. They have stated a clear opposition to corporate power in politics and a distaste for fractional wealth and a call for accountability of large finance institutions. Not clear enough? I agree a more pointed effort starts here but either help to accomplish that, form a coherent critique, or save your shallow insults for the Fox cameras.

Don't expect me or anyone else to play softball with you when you lazily lob insults with nothing substantial to back it up.
 
I just read there will be #occupy events happening on October 15th in London, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam and Copenhagen
 
Mansur, I think the difference with Apple and designers is that they didn't get tax payer bail out money. This is about the banks and insurance companies that didn't protect the American people and took their money and then further stole by giving themselves bonuses with bail out money. American should be able to afford to buy stuff. It helps the economy :)
 
"and plenty of young kids who looked like my son" That would make you wonder...It certainly would make me sad.
 
Tanya: " This is about the banks and insurance companies that didn't protect the American people and took their money and then further stole by giving themselves bonuses with bail out money." I completely agree. There's nothing wrong with being rich, and having a humongous paycheck. But when US folks are paying for your mistakes and bonuses...something is wrong.
 
There's also nothing inherently "wrong" with being poor. Difference is, poor people tend to be much less able to victimize the rich. Actually, let's narrow that down. They are NEVER able to victimize the rich.
 
What ever happened to accountability? Today I have witnessed all to many people try and blame others for their mistakes. It's your life, your decisions, if you don't like what's going on then u change it. Quit pointing the finger and look in the mirror.
 
/For the record: I am not American, and employed/
For Justin and others: Regarding the accountability, I agree with the idea in general. However, there are currently 9% (14 million Americans) unemployed, not including the ones who are forced to work only part-time (that would come up to 17%). There are simply no jobs available for most of them. In certain industries the average ratio of available jobs - job seekers = 1:30. This is not even adjusted to region, meaning that in some regions these numbers are doubled or more.

This means that the options for people to "change it" are extremely limited. And regarding "their mistakes", let's take construction workers for example. If you have been working in construction for 20+ years, and have become very skilled in some kind of craft or trade (carpenting for example) and the construction industry goes into an unexpected slump (as it currently has), explain to me how that is your mistake? Should you have done night schooling for becoming a nurse during your career as a carpenter so that in case of a recession you can enter a less competitive market (health)?
 
congrats for making a liar outta me, I never thought you'd get around to posting about OWS :)
 
"if" it continues to affect out national debate/conversation? phlease!
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Hello friend

I am Iranian and most Iranians follow the events in Wall Street form Medias. This is American awakening surly.

But I have question, that do you think this kind of demonstration is fruitful? And Have Americans try this demonstration in the past?
 
We should start doing JOB resumes Group within of what we have to offer to the world too!!
 
I agree I too want to see where this all goes. I think both sides have been patiently waiting for the other to possibly start some kind of monolog. I just wonder if anyone would hear it if they did..??
 
I guess Robert you missed them on the weekend when they about 10 to 20 thousand strong in times square and all over the world!!
 
中国共产党的头目是脆弱的,它们永远只能在阴暗潮湿的角落作威作福,根本经不起国际媒体或记者的考验,他们只能靠对国内新闻媒体和网络论坛的审查、控制和强行关闭,或用罪名威胁;对国外媒体和网络的封锁来保护幼嫩的思维和经不起阳光的勾当,他们不会冷静和幽默的思考问题,他们总把丁点成绩用高音喇叭来宣传,他们从来不敢承认错误,他们没有勇气面对竞争对手,他们是懦夫.我们感谢有远见的个人或国家对中国共产党施加压力和指责,这才使得的这头蛮牛的行为有所收敛.我们将共同努力给中华大地腐烂的部分(政治)撒点盐、打点针,尽管会有一点疼痛,可跟持续腐烂相比我们更加愿意承受一点痛来治愈这片可爱的土地。
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