…or are they.
It started in July with a call by the group Anonymous for 20,000 to participate. It kicked off with a tenth of that amount. In the days since, the number of participants has risen and fallen along with the temperatures.
Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan has been the scene of OccupyWallStreet since September 17. During the few days I’ve been here, the park has always been full – walking the length of the park requires full attention or you may step on someone.
In addition to all the people in the park, the group has set up a free lending library, a kitchen, a medic station and a fully operational media center. It’s not hard to believe that such an organized and vast effort has never been established in a space just about three times the size of Pritchard Park in Asheville.
The majority of the participants are twenty somethings. Dyed hair and dyed clothes seem to be the uniform of the day. But there’s also a smattering of 40, 50 and 60 somethings. I even saw a lady today carrying a sign that said, “I’m 87 and I’m mad as hell”.
The causes represented show as wide a diversity as the ages. Troy Davis, banks, corporations, the Military Industrial Complex, pro-life and pro-choice – and more — they’re all here.
It would be easy to dismiss the occupation as nothing more than a bunch of people with nothing better to do than chant, march and hold signs. It was be easy, but it would be wrong.
Underneath the generally congenial atmosphere is a layer of anger. People are tired of feeling as though they’re being shoved around by corporations. Individuals gather in groups and loudly discuss how the government is subsidizing the rich on the backs of the poor. Indeed, one constant theme throughout is the fact that the top 1% of the population is wealthier than the remaining 99%. This is hit on time and time again.
It would also be easy to dismiss the people calling for change as dreamers. Dale Carnegie said, “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”
Greater things have been accomplished by fewer people than what shows up every day in Zuccotti Park. It’s about time we brought some serious changes to the way this country is run. Maybe these kids can do it. Maybe they can’t.
Regardless of the outcome I’m still going to be in their corner cheering them on.
Jerry Nelson is a nationally recognized photojournalist. His work has appeared in many national, regional and local publications including CNN, USAToday, Upsurge, Earthwalkers and Associated Content. Nelson travels the country seeking out the people, places and things that make America unique and great. When not traveling, Nelson volunteers his time and donates his services to area non-profit agencies and is available for portraits, promotional shoots, events and more. Nelson lives in Asheville, North Carolina when not chasing down stories and photo opportunities.