Saturday, October 15, 2011

Marching with Occupy Tacoma

Today I'm off to march with Occupy Tacoma.  I'm trying to follow the entire Occupy Wall Street movement.  I must say that while I completely sympathize with and support their effort, I confess a certain frustration with our local band in the City of Destiny.  I keep hoping they, as with the other Occupy movements throughout the country will lay out a plan supporters can get behind. 

Maybe that's just too much to ask. What I have learned is this:

1.  Americans across ideologies are frustrated, feel powerless, and are afraid of what the future holds for them, their children and grandchildren.
2.  With tens of millions unemployed and many millions more underemployed, families are hurting and despite their best efforts can't find work or are struggling to make ends meet.
3.  Elected representatives of both parties are unable or unwilling to take on the issue of continuing joblessness, preferring to fight partisan and ideological battles rather than governing in the peoples' interest. 
4.  Corporate interests, especially financial institutions seem to have profited despite the magnitude of the Great Recession, received federal financial aid, and their CEO's are making mega-bonuses despite the fact states find themselves in fiscal ruin, the unemployed are running out of benefits, and there's been no serious aid to those about to face foreclosure on their homes.
5.  The interests of entrenched wealth in this country seem to have the politicians' ear, the latter seem to act in the interests of the former, and nobody seems to be an effective advocate for working Americans. 

 These seem to be the chief issues the Occupy (name the city) are showcasing in their protest movements.  Yes there could be more, and there could be fewer, but ultimately they are those I could get behind.  I gave up my Saturday afternoon to march with son Patrick, his friends Rafael and Adam, and an estimated 400 fellow travelers from the Hilltop neighborhood and down into Tacoma. 
 Pre-Funk at People's Park

 Who are these folks?  Well, they defy description.  Yes there are a minority of young folks with their tattoos and piercings so disparaged by the eastern media, but honestly that's just a hallmark of generational identity like the long hair and love beads of my own generation.  Most seemed to be over 40 and approaching my own age of middle 50's. Lots of signs, lots of enthusiasm, lots of respect for authority and close work with the Tacoma Police Department.
A smattering of the signs displayed by marchers.

 The march left People's Park at 9th and Martin Luther King Way, and proceeded down 9th into downtown, with rallies at Wells Fargo Plaza (renamed Bailout Plaza for our activities) and the front of the federal courthouse on Pac Ave., before an ending hoo hah at Tollefson Park.  It was a nice day for walking.  It stayed cool from about 1-3:30 with the sun bursting out and warming things up at the end.  Lots of chanting-"We are the 99 percent," "Banks got bailed out, we were sold out," and the catchy "What does democracy look like? This is what democracy looks like?"
Folks Rally at the County City Building 

There was a certain 60's blind optimistic hokum to the entire affair, but I had a fine time.  The company was amazing, the weather cooperative and it was great to get hundreds of people together that believe there has to be a better way than what we have now.  I didn't hear any chants for nationalizing the banking system, for taxing the rich and feeding the poor until there were no rich no more, just that everyone needs to do their fair share and that bankers had gotten a free ride.  There were also calls for a single-payer health care system which is what I believe anyway. 
Occupation Park-are the police coming?
If there was any negativity to the march it was the announcement at the end that there would be occupiers of Tacoma.  Though some of the volunteers were experienced at acts of civil disobedience and quite willing to suffer arrest from their choice of parks at Pacific and 21st, others were less experienced and fearful.  I admire their dedication and wish them well.

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