I spent time at the Occupy Wall Street site, where I witnessed the effects that the many raids by the New York City Police department, and the impact that it has had on the OWS movement overall. When I first approached, the first thing I noticed were the diminished number of attendees, versus the first time that I had attended. They really had cleaned the park. They cleaned out all of the exhibits and made several arrests. I spoke with one African American female who said that she was attacked by eight police officers because of the statements that she was making about Mayor Bloomberg. She stated that she had been detained and injected several times with medication to calm her down. As I looked into her eyes I could see how shaken she still was, I could also see the pain in her eyes. It was a pain that went deeper than what she was upset with Mayor Bloomberg about. Her eyes were glassy and somewhat dazed, her beautiful dark brown eyes may forever be cloaked with the trauma and pain that only another woman could sympathize with, especially as an African American woman. She stood strong as she represented the 99%. I spoke with a Latin American male, who was upset with the police officers and their attitudes towards the protesters. I was happy to have run into him and his African American friend, as they represented our men who are demonized by the media and police. I felt their anger, and took the opportunity to remind them how important they were and if we ever wanted to see real change come with our movement, we must be the change that we wish to see. If we want peace we must possess peace. There was even a woman who was visiting to New York to give her support from Ecuador. I was very excited to have met her. She gave me an opportunity to speak about my original question of whether the people protesting were American and why they decided to come here to protest instead of doing it in their own country. This lady had the sweetest spirit of all the people whom I spoke with. She stated that as an international movement, she just wanted to come to give her support to the 99%. Her simple response made me realize how complicated I was making it. She showed love and demonstrated the peace that we are all seeking. Meeting her made me put myself in check and re-think my original opposition and feelings on “outsiders” challenging our system. If this movement does nothing else I hope that it challenges each one of us to re-think the way we do business and treat one another. There are many groups of people who are marginalized by our society. Poor people and people with mental impairments are still a part of our community, and as a community we must work to create systems to give them the support they need, instead of silencing them threats and temporary services and medications that offer no real solutions or means to sustain themselves.
Immediately following my visit to OWS I had an interview with the DoSomething.org team. This is the largest non-profit organization that focuses on motivating young people to become involved in their communities. I was told that they would not be able support the OWS movement as they are a “non-political” organization. Which I understand, however, if there ever was a time to get the young people involved in their community, now is the time. Our political and social systems are changing, and if we do not get the children engaged, we will become the next third world nation. If you are reading this, I am begging YOU to DO SOMETHING, anything, even if it is something that will only help you become a better citizen. The children are watching. After all, real change starts with us, as individuals. It is never too late to be the best person that we can be. Take some time and really look at the man in the mirror, and ask him, what is blocking you from really using your power to love?