I watched fascinated as the little kid – about 5 or 6 – was berating his mother. “I hate you. I hate you. I hate you” was followed by “You’re not fair” and “You don’t love me”. As I stood in line at the McDonald’s on Broadway just a few blocks up from Zuccotti Plaza, site of the OccupyWallStreet occupation, the two events seemed to coalesce into one in my mind.
This little kid obviously had some complaints that he wanted addressed – and addressed NOW. He was doing a great job about voicing his displeasure with the situation and he was making sure that everyone within earshot was aware that he didn’t feel he was being treated in a way he wanted to be treated.
Kind of the same way with the protestors. Chants like, “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now”.Or another one, “People! Power!” It’s obvious they don’t feel they’re being treated in a way they want to be treated.
It appears to even the most casual observer that they don’t seem to have “the next step” in mind. Stop any protestor in Zuccotti Park and ask them, “What is it you’re protesting?” And you’re liable to get a good, reasoned, thought-out response on the “why” of the protest. Ask them though, how they plan to change things to meet their stated goals and you typically get a blank stare and a re-hash of what it is they’re protesting.
In other words, they’ve taken over Zuccotti Park, but now that they have it, they don’t know what to do with it. Kind of like watching a dog chase a car. Ever wonder what the dog will do if he catches the car? He can’t drive it.
One other spot where the protestor’s miss the mark. Their “targets of opportunity”. They’ve marched – among other places – to Union Square and the Brooklyn Bridge. Yah, right these are two hot beds of corporate greed. I stood in Zuccotti Park and wondered why don’t they just march down to the Federal Reserve – it’s only two blocks away. Now THAT would be a good place to occupy.
It’s easy to excuse their inability to discuss the “next steps” due to their exuberance and lack of direction. They’re young. But at least they’re doing something. They’re making their voices heard. They’re yelling “You’re NOT fair”. They’re getting people to stop, look and listen.
Let’s just hope they can give a reasoned response to the mechanics of change that they want to see happen.
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.