March 27, 2023

The 99% | One insider’s point of view into the Occupy Movement

THE 99%
by Andrew B.
17 years old – Boston, MA
photos by J.P.T.

As a teenager growing up, its easy to turn a blind eye to the ugliness in the world. It’s easy to be mis-guided, mis-lead and give up because you feel like you aren’t good enough. But TRUTH is something that everyone should be comfortable with finding and it’s much more a right than a five letter word.

Everyone is capable of finding the truth. In order to find the truth, you need to turn off the TV and you need to investigate the problem on your own, without someone telling you or pushing you towards a certain corner. You have to think for yourself and be the beautiful human being that you are. We are all capable of this. You have to question the answers and find out what the word Truth really means for yourself, and find it through fact and not opinion. Two could argue for ages if they had different opinions on a subject, but fact – fact cannot argued. Fact cannot be ignored. The core of man’s spirit comes from new experiences and the more you explore the more you start to understand the hidden paths around you.

Its hard to live in a society were the media can practically say what they want, when they want, and are capable of stretching the truth longer than Gumby himself. It really leaves you insecure about who you can trust and makes you wonder how much of what you are actually hearing is true, or if it just makes a better headline story. We live in a time of profit, were money is happiness and man will do what he needs to do in order to inherit as much money as possible – even if that means ruining another man’s chances of ever being successful. I want to believe this world is equal, that happiness is only real when shared, and people have good intentions and no one wishes to inflict pain on their brothers or sisters. I find this to be a hard task and our founding fathers of this nation would hold their heads in shame for what this country has now become. Sometimes I feel myself lost for words, with a headache, trying to figure out why our nation is the way it is now. Greed, power-hungry and selfishness are all good words to describe the environment I live in and it makes mornings so much harder for me.

I am a concerned citizen of the United States and change is in the air. Luckily a lot more can change than just the color of leaves in the Fall, if we the people have a say in it – which we do, I mean this is OUR nation! Our constitutional rights are bashed in every day and the ones that are supposed to be protecting us are simply just taking advantage of us. The police should recognize when they are no longer serving the public. If America is to find its way once again, its people cannot rely on simply delegating this task to others – to think, to dream or to act on their behalf.

“Occupy Wall Street” or be occupied by it.

It’s up to the people to be heard, and you’re voice wont be heard unless you scream for what you truly believe in, for what our constitution once was. The United States already had the highest inequality of wealth in the industrialized world prior to the financial crisis. Since the crisis, which has hit the average worker much harder than CEOs, the gap between the top one percent and the remaining 99% of the US population has grown to a record high.  The economic top one percent of the population now owns over 70% of all financial assets, an all-time record. As a record number of US citizens are struggling to get by, many of the largest corporations are experiencing record-breaking profits, and CEOs are receiving record-breaking bonuses.

How could this be happening; how did we get to this point? In 1970, CEOs made $25 for every $1 the average worker made. Due to technological advancements, production and profit levels exploded from 1970 – 2000. With the share of increased profits going to the CEOs, this pay ratio dramatically rose to $90 for CEOs to $1 for the average worker. As ridiculous as that seems, an in-depth study in 2004 on the explosion of CEO pay revealed that, including stock options and other benefits, CEO pay is more accurately $500 to $1 to the average worker. 50 million US citizens are without healthcare.  1.4 million Americans filed for bankruptcy in 2009, a 32% increase from 2008. As bankruptcies continue to skyrocket, medical bankruptcies are responsible for over 60% of them, and over 75% of the medical bankruptcies filed are from people who have healthcare insurance. We have the most expensive healthcare system in the world, we are forced to pay twice as much as other countries and the overall care we get in return ranks 37th in the world.

Is America really the nation its hyped up to be? Do we really have it the best, or do just some of us have it the best? Our country is run by the 1% of the population, which are the rich, and it’s not hard to see that our nation is cruel and unjust. Paul Buchheit, from DePaul University, revealed, “From 1980 to 2006 the richest 1% of America tripled their after-tax percentage of our nation’s total income, while the bottom 90% have seen their share drop over 20%.” Robert Freeman added, “Between 2002 and 2006, it was even worse: an astounding three quarters of all the economy’s growth was captured by the top 1%.” The rich are getter richer while the poor are getting poorer. We have no excuses, we have nothing more to lose.

Why is it easier to believe that 150,000,000 Americans are being lazy, rather than 400 Americans are being greedy? This is a perfect time to have your voice heard. A movement, a revolution that believes in fairness and non-violence. Your friends, your family, your teachers, and your peers are all uniting to speak out against the cruel and unfair ways things continue to be run so we can change the future. This is not a one day thing, this is a battle that will go on and on and we will refuse to give up our rights, our amendments, in the process.


“Tax the poor, while the rich get more!”

Is this what we wish to live by? Voices are louder than microphones. Don’t believe me? Come down to one of the Occupations in 1,305 cities throughout the world and just say “MIC-CHECK” and say what needs to be heard, because if saying it doesn’t help you feel better – hearing it come from the thousands of people standing around you sure will. We are the 99%. Together we will create a better future. A future we deserve.

The time has come to deploy this emerging stratagem against the greatest corrupter of our democracy: Wall Street, the financial Gomorrah of America. Our comrades have already begun the occupation of Wall St, now its our turn to occupy the financial districts in Boston. Lets make Boston the cradle of revolution it once was. -OCCUPY BOSTON

“The antiglobalization movement was the first step on the road. Back then our model was to attack the system like a pack of wolves. There was an alpha male, a wolf who led the pack, and those who followed behind. Now the model has evolved. Today we are one big swarm of people.” -Raimundo Viejo, Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, Spain

My first time going to Occupy Boston I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I heard of the movement and I was damn happy with it but it took me a week to go and get involved myself after the spikes have settled in the rough ground – No, literally. Roughly 250 tents are set up in Dewey Square across the street from the Federal Reserve bank and I have never seen anything like it before. Rows of tents right outside of South Station, bringing camping to a whole new level. Occupy Boston is the beginning of an ongoing discussion about the problems with America’s economic system and how it has damaged government and the fabric of society as a whole. The top 1% owns 50% of the nation’s wealth.

The camp is its own organized town! They run their own town meetings, from organizing events and marches to free food and first aid tents and no one is denied a voice to speak. Everyone is equal and everyone is able to express their opinion on any subject involving the protest, and I’m not kidding when I say everyone actually listens quietly and carefully and waits to respond until you are finished. It’s beautiful to see how much people really are dedicated to a cause and how nice and respectful people are to one another. It’s fair to say its a super well organized event.

Camping out in the pouring rain can usually be the end to your camping experience but not to Occupy Boston protesters. This is a serious protest, for a serious cause but at the same time they know how to have fun. The rain gets louder and the laughter sings along. Occupy Boston is all ages of people, from high school kids to World War 2 veterans, all sorts of animals alike, from humans to man’s best friend and discrimination doesn’t apply here. Everyone is loved, and new friends are made everyday.

The protest is a non-violent protest, and for the most part the police and the protesters work nicely together. Arrests are expected to be made, as in majority of any protest – peaceful or not. All of the arrested have been charged a $40 court fee and the charges have been dismissed. When a member of the protest has been arrested, the organizers pass around a hat asking for money donations so they can go over and bail the person out as quickly as possible so he can return to his or her make shift home outside of South Station.

On Thursday, October 13th, Occupy Boston members were discussing how Occupy New York was getting threats of being kicked out of the park in which they have set up camp in by the NYPD.  After a formal complaint by the property owner of Zuccotti Park the word on the street was the police were coming, well equipped, at sometime from midnight to 7 AM so they could clean up the park. Me and a close friend of mine drove from Occupy Boston to Occupy New York and arrived roughly around midnight to show our support.

I haven’t been to New York much, nor have I seen it in the cover of nightfall. The New York protesters set up camp in Zuccotti Park, only feet away from where the twin towers once stood, though its not so much a camp because the law of the park says “NO TENTS!” The protesters use make shift shelters from tarps and the majority of them sleep with their noses on the ground – passion, if I do say myself.) Even with the no tent policy, protesters were respectful by showing that they were keeping the park clean by washing the stairs with soap on their hands and knees and brushing up every little piece of trash they could find.

Around 1AM it started to downpour like you couldn’t believe. We did not come prepared with anything, except ourselves. A awesome New York protester gave us a umbrella to share to stay semi-warm from the cold rain and people gathered close to keep as dry as possible. Others, showered in the rain – washing their hair and chests with soap, enjoying the free shower. The camp was quiet at night, only a few 100 or so were out and about while others slept on the wet floor. The police would come into the camp and tell people that they couldn’t have certain things looking a certain way – wanting to remind themselves that they are cops and can tell people what to do…but they would just get followed and laughed at throughout the night, a sleepless night, and as the sun didn’t rise…but the clock hit 5:30AM people started to come from all directions.

The protest gained a good 1,000 members in just 30 minutes! Cops put up fencing around the whole park trying to keep the protesters inside but eventually the number hit nearly 2,000 protesters and the protesters were all over the place! Cops organized in lines in the front and one came with a megaphone attempting to push people back and then all of a sudden the eviction of the protesters at Zuccotti park was cancelled and a march was made right down the street to Wall Street itself.

60 riot squad men with masks and shields stood in front of the gates and they were only letting people go down the street if they had a Wall Street ID on them. The police were not as bad as most nights in NYC, though a protester did get run over by a police motorcycle.

14 arrests were made, not bad compared to the 700 who were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge, days earlier. New York held its ground and are allowed to stay at camp for another day until police try again to forcefully remove them.

Curious people came into the camp grounds of NYC, some looking for debate and discussion. I was approached by a worker on Wall Street who argued the fact we were attacked on 9/11 because we are a perfect nation and “they” are jealous of our freedom. He bragged about how his friend had killed “42” people overseas and he believes we should “remove” the Middle East from our world. He told me everyone who is protesting Wall Street is just lazy and doesn’t want to get a job and they want to be given money instead.

Help create a better and fair future. Link arms and fight for what is right across the world!

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