For me, Occupy Wall Street was something that needed to be seen to be understood. After September 17, I’d followed the movement mainly through the biased, dismissive mainstream media, who painted it as a disorganized collection of hippies with no clear message. On October 10, Columbus Day, I decided to take my camera and go see for myself what OWS was all about. First I could hear the drums, then I came upon an explosively colorful swarm of activity. It was a brilliant, blue-sky day and the park was packed with people of all ages, ethnicities, and genders, holding signs on what seemed a million causes, playing instruments, and being interviewed by a plethora of news media. I walked in wonder through the park and what had seemed a mass from afar settled into surprising order. There were no tents yet, but there were media and information tables, a weather report posted on whiteboard, an extensive listing of working group meetings, a library, and a bustling kitchen operation. There were bursting flowerbeds with signs asking people to respect them. And most of all, there was a sense of community and of purpose. The passion people had for the movement was palpable, as was the love and respect with which people treated each other. No one was a stranger. I’d never felt so welcomed and inspired by anything in my life.
I left with my mind awhirl. I realized that the people in Liberty did represent a million causes, but that they crystallized under one “demand”: to get the government out of the hands of corporations and back into the hands of the people. I got it. I came back almost every day that week, and ever since. Within a few days, I was taking minutes for General Assemblies, excitedly participating in marches, helping protect the park from threatened eviction, and occupying Times Square. You can see from my photos that on my Day 1 at Liberty Square, I referred to Occupy Wall Street as “them.” But since that day, it’s been “we.” We are Occupy Wall Street, through thick and thin, and I still passionately believe in that community I saw on my first day, and in our power to change the world.
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