Experience Occupy Wall St.: In Person, In Their Own Words And Mine

Where to begin?  First, let me say that of course I went down there with some preconceived notions and certain expectations, based on everything that’s been in the news and online about the Occupiers. My intentions were twofold: show what was going on without prejudice or cherry-picking, just letting the scene speak for itself, as well as engage in conversation with as many people as I could, asking questions to learn not just their motivations and what they expected to accomplish, but how they expected to achieve their goals.  Needless to say it was fascinating, and very educational.  I realize this is an exceedingly lengthy post (probably an hour’s worth of stuff to get through), but there’s a lot to talk about, and I believe that this is important.  As I’ll show here, all of my suspicions have been proven correct over the last week or so.  Furthermore, I believe this will show just how much the BBC has failed on this story.

Here’s what I saw walking around the encampment. Full report follows afterward. There are also clips of conversations below the fold.  All video hosted by EyeTube.


I spent over two hours walking in and around Zuccotti Park – the epicenter of the Occupy movement – taking photos and video, talking to as many people as possible. I tried as much as I could not to be like Mark Mardell or other Beeboids at a Tea Party event, and honestly tried to listen to what these people had to say, taking them at their word, and not let my prejudices color anything or prevent me from changing my mind. I’ll let others decide for themselves how successful I was or wasn’t on that score. Unlike a professional interviewer, although I did think of a few things in advance, I didn’t have a prepared list of questions written down, or notes to refer to while we talked. The result was that I often strayed off topic, missed opportunities, and struggled for the right thing to say. I realize I was trying to cover too much at once, something that wouldn’t happen if I was doing a report aimed at getting a specific angle or story.  I also didn’t get professional-quality video, as I was using only a little cheap handheld camera, and spent more time looking at the person with whom I was speaking than into the screen to see what I was shooting. I got bumped into a lot, people walking in front of me, etc. Quite frankly, I’m pretty sure that if I did have any of that proper prep, I’d never have gotten in and up close like I did and had so many candid conversations.

Apologies in advance for the frame drops, etc. Final Cut Pro didn’t like some of the files. I didn’t always get the best shot, either, as I was just walking around with my little camera, trying to engage in conversation rather than act like an instigator cameraman constantly looking at the screen.

So what did I learn?  First, I discovered that, just like Katty Kay said, many of them were nice, and willing to talk. And they nearly all seemed to be rather intelligent, which is refreshing. I’ll chalk that up to this being New York City, though. That doesn’t mean they aren’t filled with rage, or willing to do whatever it takes to get their way.  It just means that they’re nice enough to talk to on a one-to-one basis. Many came across as well-meaning, hearts in the right place.  Unfortunately, it quickly became clear that their heads were located a couple of feet below that. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and I heard a lot of those good intentions expressed by the Occupiers.

However, there were quite a few who were not so nice, who clearly resented anyone questioning their opinions. I didn’t get a chance to talk to any of the leaders. Oh, wait, sorry, this is a “leaderless” group, right?  Yeah, well, we’ll get to that later.  In any case, I found that the people with the worst attitude were those who were just stopping by to show their support. Quite a few typical Left-wing fascists milling around, who were convinced that anyone who didn’t agree with them was evil and ignorant, even when they were shown up to be woefully lacking in their own command of the facts.  But this is about the Occupiers themselves.

I’ll admit that I went down there with the preconceived notion that these people were all far-Left ideologues. As it turned out, only one person turned out to be anything but that.  Of course, it’s silly to have expected otherwise. But there was one guy there handing out fliers about supporting small businesses. It was for something called “The American Lender”. The website doesn’t give much information about their backing, but it was nice to hear from someone not entirely hating capitalism, full stop. Everyone else who talked about small businesses, supporting the little guy, etc., came from an anti-corporate stance.  But it was more than that.  It seemed like everybody who expressed support for free market ideals really didn’t want what most of us consider to be that at all.  They were anti-Capitalist, and wanted to create some kind of localized, mom-and-pop economy, where there was no mass production, no mass consumption, and no corporations at all.  How this was going to create a prosperous national economy which raised everyone out of poverty and created opportunities for advancement in any field was not only unclear, but nobody seemed to have considered it.  This was schoolboy fantasy stuff for the most part.

Before going any further, though, a word about Zuccotti Park itself.  It’s privately owned, by a developer corporation called Brookfield Properties.  By New York law, a developer gets permission to own and manage (key word, there) what would otherwise be a public park, in exchange for the right to have greater density of property ownership in the area.  In other words, Brookfield gets to own more office and/or residential buildings than a developer is normally allowed, because they manage the public park.

But dig it: this form of purely capitalist corporate influence on government is what makes this little extravaganza possible.  You see, part of the deal is that the private owner must make the park available to the public 24/7, whereas a state or city-owned park closes at midnight, and the cops kick everybody out.  That’s why the Occupiers chose this space, yet the irony seems lost on them.  Oh, and the President is about to throw some taxpayer money down yet another green toilet…sorry…give money to crony corporate capitalists…damn…invest in green energy and jobs for an alternative energy company, this time owned by Brookfield.  I’m not too worried about Brookfield sneakily calling the national guard to remove the Occupiers or anything, are you?

“Democracy”

At one point, I spoke with a couple of Occupiers who were washing the communal dishes. It turned out that they were more non-voters, didn’t trust the system, etc.  But they were very enthusiastic about the cute little “general assembly”.

(I didn’t have the presence of mind to ask the guy who mentioned boycotting all corporations if that included Apple, or if they wanted the people donating the generators etc. that enabled their righteous cause to also stop funding corporations.  My failure there.)

One can see how this kind of micro-democratic scenario where everyone feels a personal, direct connection to the outcome can be fulfilling. But it’s also very misleading. Unfortunately, it was clear that this student-style democracy simply reinforced their belief that the system at large wasn’t working for them, and could no longer do so. They also had no idea how they would ultimately achieve their goals. Not a good sign.

My suspicions that this was misleading seem to be proving more correct than I could have imagined.  Apparently now there’s a lot of infighting going on amongst these happy campers. (Note: the NY Daily News is a very Left-wing paper these days. They’re in full support of the Occupiers’ anger, so if they’re reporting trouble, you know it’s bad.)  So much so that there are now areas of the park where some of them don’t feel safe at night.  Somebody tell Katty Kay and Laura Trevalyan. As you can see from the video, it’s not a very big space.  Anyone familiar with the history of anarchist movements won’t be at all surprised that this is the inevitable result of such self-fulfilling emotions.

One of the photos in my first post from Zuccotti Park featured a sign condemning food corporations and calling for people to support small farmers.  In the caption, I said that, while this was a nice sentiment, it wouldn’t help the urban poor.  I support my local (okay, I live in NYC, so an hour or more away) farmers and fishermen.  I buy most of my produce and all of my fish from the weekly farmers’ market in my neighborhood because the quality is great and the price is mostly comparable to big-box grocery stores. I also occasionally buy stuff from a locally-sourced farmers’ cooperative, which is arranged and patronized by a bunch of people in my neighborhood. I’m not a pretentious “locavore”, and I don’t care about their carbon footprint. I just like the product, the convenience, and  the generally reasonable prices. That’s your free market right there.  But people living in other neighborhoods, or, for example, in desert regions or less densely populated areas, don’t have access to this stuff.  I’m fortunate that I don’t have to drive an hour to get to the nearest store, one which generally will rip me off for the convenience.

I also like to support local and small businesses wherever I can, because they provide the vast majority of jobs in the country. Family businesses are also one of the best ways to pass on a legacy of success to one’s children, and provide opportunities for achieving beyond their parents.  Of course, achieving beyond something is not what the Occupiers are about. They mostly want to punish achievers who earn more than some arbitrary income level which changes depending upon their mood.  Earning anything more than that isn’t fair, you see.  For example, one of the photos in my slideshow featured this “unemployed seamstress”.  She wanted to tax the rich more, because she didn’t make as much money as they did, and was unaware of the realities of the tax system.  Mentioning Herman Cain was met with a death look from her husband (off camera).

In any case, all the lip-service paid to supporting the free market and small businesses was generally a smokescreen for being anti-corporate. Which brings me to that anti-corporate message.  Nobody will argue with the notion that corporations have too much influence on politicians. Lobbying and corruption is a serious problem, something on which conservatives and liberals can agree.  But the grievances of the Occupiers go beyond that. Everything was about “corporate greed” and “corporations control the government”, which are two different issues.  But it was all the same to these people, as the bottom line was anti-Capitalism.  Corporations are symbolic of their enemy.  Wal-Mart and Target allow working-class people to enjoy a middle-class lifestyle? Screw that: the CEOs make too much money and the workers don’t. All those MacBook pros and iPhones and North Face tents and Sony cameras the Occupiers were using to attack big corporations?  Shut up, that’s not the point.  The internet?  Invented and run by magic fairies, free to all with no silly business and nasty profit model needed.  You get the idea.

The problem of too much corporate influence in government is very real. But their answer wasn’t to clean up Washington by, for example, putting a moratorium on politicians and generals becoming lobbyists or getting automatic directorships or seats on corporate Boards the instant they leave office. They mostly wanted to end corporations, full stop.  This is a serious disconnect between reality and their dreams, something which I was to learn was part of the very foundation of the Occupier movement.

Violence

Nobody I spoke with advocated violence. Some of them had no idea that their comrades elsewhere were calling for violence, and the ones that were aware seemed to genuinely regret it. Of course, we’re talking about two types of violence here. The more obvious kind is like in the “England Riots” from August, which the BBC initially described as grievances against nasty Tory cuts and income inequality (Is that foreshadowing or what? Revealing of a certain inherent mindset, no?). In that scenario, the “protesters” took the initiative, attacking police, property, etc.  A lot of these people see getting arrested as a badge of honor, as if they’re defending Rosa Parks’ right to sit in front of the bus, or of those little girls to go to their local whites-only school in Alabama. The other kind of violent scenario is like what we saw when the Occupiers tried to take over the Brooklyn Bridge, obstructing traffic and inconveniencing their fellow citizens. There’s a difference between exercising one’s right to free speech, freedom of association and peaceful assembly, and infringing on other people’s rights and property.  Nobody I spoke with understood the difference, and that’s a problem. Actually, I seriously doubt any of the Beeboids do, either.  Personally, I say that your rights and freedoms end where mine begin. Contrary to what Katty Kay alleged, their love for humanity only goes as far as their own desires. You want to get home from a long day at work to your wife and kids? Screw you, evil rich oppressor!  Your rights are worthless because you’re morally inferior. We’re excercising our rights, and our cause is just.

Remind me again how many people have been arrested since the Tea Party movement started. While you’re at it, remind me how many Tea Party protests didn’t have permits to operate, and had to be kicked out so the city could clean up after them at taxpayer expense.  The only instances of confrontation as far as I’m aware are when Democrat politicians blocked citizens from their rights to freedom of speech and presence at public hearings.  Yet the ludicrous Mark Mardell only wrings his hands about things getting physical when a senior citizen Tea Partier gets assaulted and ends up biting off the fingertip of his attacker.

Anti-Semitism

I honestly didn’t see much evidence of anti-Semitism at all. While I did see a couple of people with signs complaining about Israel, I definitely didn’t see the kind of stuff we’ve seen in videos and pictures from this and other Occupier groups. In fact, the one person I did speak with who was complaining about Israel seemed genuinely to be doing it from a sense of concerned patriotism (regarding that unfortunate attack on the USS Liberty), nothing to do with a specific Jewish element.  There was one guy with a sign whining about Israel influencing the US into wars and all that, but he was engaged in a pretty civil conversation with an orthodox Jew at the time.  So it’s pretty hard to get that alarmed.

I’m sure, however, that once some of those ugly anti-Semitic images went public, the organizers (hey, the BBC told me that this is a leaderless movement – ed.) abjured their comrades against such displays, so I didn’t see any of the really nasty stuff. Also, it became quickly apparent to me that trying to do a Today-style ambush interview would get me nowhere, and the confrontational, accusatory approach just felt wrong at the time. So maybe I missed some opportunities to show up a few anti-Semites. It just didn’t seem an appropriate way to go. Plus, I look Jewish, so most likely any genuine Jew-haters would have dodged me anyway.  I suppose I could have just yelled out, “How many people here blame the Jews for all this,” but that would have been counter-productive.

Still, we do know from evidence from other Occupier groups that there is an element of anti-Semitism in this movement, typically tied into the anti-banker/anti-corporate/anti-evil-rich types. And yes, I’m aware of this video. I didn’t see him there on Sunday (at least, I don’t think he was the guy I saw holding up a sign saying that Bloomberg felt his billions threatened), and it looks like he’s actually just outside the park and not part of the Occupier encampment, and seems instead to be, like quite a few others, somebody with his own issues jumping on the bandwagon. Hey, for all I know he could be one of Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s congregants.  In any event, I’m sure as hell not going to be like Mark Mardell and tell you that I see anti-Semitism everywhere even though I see precious little evidence of it.  So that issue will have to be left for another day.  On Sunday, it was irrelevant, as far as I could tell. As it happened, there were a few sympathetic Jews there, and as I showed in my slideshow, I also saw a flier posted by a group calling themselves “Occupy Judaism” (a rather unfortunate name) inviting all to join “traditional egalitarian and gender-neutral” (an oxymoron) celebration of the Jewish holiday of Simchas Torah.  They wouldn’t feel comfortable doing it if there was an underlying pulse of anti-Jew sentiment.. Really, I think that anti-Semites are just part of the intersection in the giant Venn Diagram of Left-wing agitators.  Although, this was NYC, so your mileage may vary.

In the end, just like the endless charges of racism against the Tea Partiers, dismissing this whole Occupier deal as anti-Semitism won’t inform anyone of what they’re really about, what they’re really doing, or what their actual goals are.  I think that’s more important.

However, it sure seemed like this group was – *gasp* – overwhelmingly Christian.  Wake me up when the Beeboids start fretting over the religious bent of the Occupiers, like they did about the Tea Party movement. Can anyone imagine this happening outside St. Paul’s?

Goals

The BBC told us that, while the Occupiers were full of energy and anger at the economic situation, they were unclear about their goals.  Or, at least, the Beeboids came away unclear about them.  I found that to be decidedly not the case at all.  Everyone I spoke to was very, very clear about their goals, and we all know by now what those were.  What I learned was that they are mostly very unclear about how to achieve them. Contrary to what Katty told us, the anger was up front, first and foremost, and I heard precious little about anyone’s “love for humanity”.  She was also completely wrong about their priority was “sitting down with their political opponents to figure out the country’s economic problems”.  These people were convinced that by copying the Egyptians in Tahrir Square, and by taking over the streets of their cities, and occupying government and bank buildings, they could bring the government to their knees and destroy the current system.  I heard this expressed over and over. That’s not trying to figure out anything. As far as they were concerned, they already had it figured out and were going to keep occupying whatever they could until they got what they wanted. No discussion, no debate.  I have no idea where Katty got her ideas from, and suspect she made it up out of whole cloth because she’s used to debating issues on TV and projected that onto the Occupiers.  We now know it was all baloney because the BBC itself is describing the Occupiers at St. Paul’s as an anti-Capitalist protest.

Let’s compare this with the Tea Party movement. The whole point of the Tea Party was to stir up the voters. People went to town hall meetings, city council meetings, politicians’ public appearances, and went out and voted in elections. In contrast, with a handful of exceptions, the Occupiers were non-voters.  Out of the dozens I spoke to, practically the only ones who were conscientious voters with a clue were these people:

(The woman speaking off camera about how Herman Cain would supposedly take away all our freedoms wasn’t an Occupier, but rather a comfortable Manhattanite who came down to show her support. I had to look up Cain’s actual position on both abortion and home healthcare for the disabled, because I hadn’t heard about what they claimed. As it turns out, these people’s concerns over their independence was already being threatened by Democrat Gov. Cuomo as part of the recently agreed plan to cut the budget and fix the state finances without raising taxes. Instead of continuing to let the home care providers bill Medicare directly, Cuomo – apparently foolishly – turned over the payment of home healthcare providers to for-profit HMOs, who in turn would bill Medicare.  This was supposed to save money.  What it did was let the HMOs close facilities, since government tracking pretty much begins and ends when they see the invoice. Personally, I don’t see how adding a layer of bureaucracy is ever going to save money, so Gov. Cuomo probably screwed that one up.  It’s not the same thing as putting more money into institutions instead, as one woman was worried about.  But Herman Cain hasn’t made any of that part of his platform, so it seems they were off base there.  This is all state-level stuff, and nothing he’s said so far is relevant to it.  Still, their concern for their own situation is legitimate. Yet they were slightly embarrassed that they were acting and voting out of self-interest.  Everyone does that to some degree, and it’s not as if they had no larger concerns. One of them was proud that she started voting at age 18, and would always do so. The chasm between the integrity of these people and the other 99% of the Occupiers (see what I did there) is staggering.  As these three were voters with the sense of civic duty so lacking in most of the Occupiers, I say more power to ‘em.

Neither they nor I knew it at the time, but the day before I was there, some Occupiers took the protest to the front lawn of Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of GE and the President’s Jobs Czar.  It’s the President’s own fault for stoking the class war.  Payback’s a bitch, eh?

As for abortion, Cain doesn’t like abortion, but has said that the government should stay out of it.  Like so many emotion-based Leftoids, the woman who told me I had my facts wrong had no grasp of how US government works.  Roe v. Wade was decided in the Judicial branch of government, not the Executive or Legislative, so that’s the only way it’s going to get overturned. In short, the US isn’t a banana republic or any kind of country where the Executive holds all the marbles. Typical fear-mongering, typical ignorant certitude from the “women’s reproductive rights” crowd there. No wonder I hadn’t heard that Cain was going to take away everyone’s freedoms. FFS.)

The rest of them? They either voted for The Obamessiah and weren’t going to vote for Him or anyone else in 2012, or didn’t vote at all and wouldn’t bother because – and I’m not making this up – they believed that Bush stole one or the other election.  Every time I suggested that this wouldn’t happen again because Bush was no longer in charge, I was brushed off with suspicions about Diebold (the company who makes the electronic voting machines), or claims that the corporations decided who would be elected, don’t trust the system, etc.  In short, these people don’t have the sense of civic duty that Katty claimed they did.  They won’t be voting for change.  Instead, they want to destroy the entire system in favor of…well…they’re not really sure.  Some kind of pre-industrial society, but with MacBooks and iPhones and YouTube, I think.

I kept asking what they thought they were achieving if they weren’t going to vote, because so far nobody in Washington was sitting down and talking about ending corporations or ending lobbying. What’s going to happen next?  Nobody knew.  They all expected that they’d just keep on doing this, getting arrested here and there, and exercise their right to peaceful assembly until…um…they got the word out…or something.  That’s the number one problem I saw here: no end game, no exit strategy.  They fully believed that what they were doing would work, just like what happened in Egypt.  They honestly all viewed themselves as being oppressed by a dictatorship, and that their desires were equivalent to those of Martin Luther King, Jr., or of the Syrians trying to get out from under the thumb of a police state.  No joke. It’s a complete disconnect from reality.

It seems that the Beeboids who went to Zuccotti Park or have visited with Occupiers elsewhere in the country sympathized entirely with their anti-corporate message (they keep telling you about the horrors of “income inequality”, right?), and supplanted the actual goals and thoughts of the Occupiers with their own more mild form of Socialism. That’s why the reality of what these people are about gets watered down so much in BBC reports. The Beeboids figure that, holding all the approved thoughts and – crucially – being part of an elite state-funded organization, they themselves will be part of the nomenklatura, protected from the negative consequences of a quasi-Marxist system that the rest of us will suffer.

Media Savvy

It’s important for everyone to understand just how clued-in the organizers…oops, sorry, there are no leaders, yeah…the Occupiers are in getting their message out and dealing with the media. I expected to see more anti-Jewish sentiment there and the usual Class War/SWP stuff, based on images and videos we’ve seen of anti-Semitism from Occupiers around the country, including in New York.  It turns out, though, that the organizers figured this out and have been warning people to clean it up. Their own website includes instructions not to bring controversial signs that have the anarchy “A”, or say “Socialism” or “Communism” because those “will scare people”.  Basically, these guys know exactly what they’re doing.  You think the Tea Party did this right from the start?

While walking around the encampment, I got the impression that this media intelligence wasn’t an accident. It turns out that my suspicions were correct.  They have professional mainstream media people coaching them, or even acting as spokespeople. So it’s no wonder that the mainstream media has sanitized their message so much, and that you keep hearing that they just want to “fix the system” and they’re all on the side of the angels.  I haven’t found evidence of a BBC employee doing this yet, but we already have proof of their support. The media (except Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and Breitbart, yeah) are all on their side, and are enabling them.  That’s the reason why the Tea Party movement was met with radio silence until April 15: the mainstream media was against them, so did their best to censor all news of it. For a while, other than Fox News, only local media even acknowledged its existence. It was only when there were hundreds of gatherings around the country that the mainstream media start talking about it. That was when the BBC first dared to report it, and when Kevin Connolly stated that he could detect the guiding hand of a national organizer, while he insulted us all with a sexual innuendo. Wake me up when the BBC does the same for the Occupiers.  And no, I’m not going to let that go until it’s removed from the website and there’s an official apology from Connolly and/or the BBC.

This Was Not A Spontaneous, Grass-Roots Movement

Unlike the Tea Party movement, which started with a spontaneous anti-tax rally organized by a St. Louis housewife, Occupy Wall St. was organized months in advance by a small cadre of professional rabble-rousers. They first announced their intentions publicly on June 14. That original anti-tax rally which morphed into the Tea Party after Rick Santelli’s rant, however, could not have been planned so far in advance because the President didn’t even take office and launch into His Socialist agenda until January 31st.  So that’s one myth busted.  Secondly, the organization – and I do not use that term lightly – of “general assemblies” and “democracy” has been spread through every Occupier group from one source. The Occupiers all over aren’t really taking instruction from this cadre of instigators, but they’re definitely taking their lead from it.  For example, the original instigators sent out a guide (NB: pdf file) to those who wanted to attend, two days before the event.  I imagine this is why one needs to call or email to get an appointment to speak with the movement’s mouthpiece.

Make no mistake: this was planned by pros who know exactly what they’re doing, and have had these beliefs for a very long time, nothing at all to do with the current economic crisis or the sub-prime mortgage fiasco or the President’s failed Stimulus. If you asked these people five years ago what they thought, they’d tell you the exact same thing they’re saying today.

Actually, there’s a parallel with the Tea Party movement right there. When that all started, and the accusations of racism hit immediately, I was debunking that by pointing out that we were all against nationalized healthcare years ago, back when it was called HillaryCare. Opposition to Socialized medicine had nothing to do with the color of the President’s skin then, and has nothing to do with it now. That’s something the BBC refused to acknowledge, and makes it all the more infuriating when Mardell claims the Tea Party is driven by crypto-racism. Likewise, the Occupiers’ opposition to bankers’ wealth and “income inequality” has nothing to do with the current situation. It’s just something they’ve always thought. Why can’t the BBC ever discuss this?

Sadly for the Occupiers, not all the comrades around the country are equally clued in.  Some idiots in Phoenix have apparently handed out fliers explaining when it’s okay to shoot a cop.  BBC:  ZZZzzzzzzz.

Not A Political Movement, Eh?

These people keep saying they’re not a political movement, and try to distance themselves from the usual shibboleths. But I keep hearing about “solidarity”, which has a very specific political connotation.  In addition, the concept of “income inequality” is Socialist.  The cute little “general assemblies” they have, where everybody in the group gets to vote daily on various issues, is classic student anarcho-syndicalism.  Their desire to end corporations and national conglomerates in favor of small, local (don’t mention for-profit) businesses is old-school anarchism.

It’s not politically neutral at all. They don’t want to openly side with one political party or the other, but you will never, ever, hear a single one of them say they’re considering voting for a Republican. If any of them voted in past elections, it’s either for a Democrat, Socialist, or Green/Nader.  And what do they think that fist logo represents? Fluffy kittens? These people are about as political as it gets, but they think they’ve successfully disguised it. The media is helpfully carrying their water on that score. I’ll grant, though, that there is always going to be a core of people who go the “a pox on both their houses, you can’t put a cigarette paper between them” route. And those are the people who are the most ideologically far out of all. Only one person I spoke with grasped the concept of a third party, or that the civic duty of voting could actually change the face of the House of Representatives.

For those who think that the Occupy Wall St. movement started out as a bunch of reasonable people concerned about bank bailouts and massive deficit spending, along with some Ron Paul supporters, read this:

The Occupy wall street movement has been heavily infiltrated by the right wing and Ron Paul supperters, people lets not forget who Ron Paul really is, this man takes donations from racist organizations and has their full support, be carefull of these Ron Paul characters nad thoer end the fed message, they are wolves in sheeps clothing.

End Game

What happens next for the Occupiers?  I have no idea, and neither do they.  The thing is, nobody had any clue what they were going to do if we don’t have the equivalent of the Egyptian Army removing Mubarak. And that’s troubling.  Now, some are suggesting that this will all peter out once the real cold weather hits in December. I’m not sure how that’s going to affect places like Los Angeles or other warmer climes. Others figure that once the uglier voices become the face of the movement with which the public is most familiar, most people will get bored, the support will fade, and the donations will dry up so much that the free protest ride ends.  My take is that this is an election year (and a bleeding half, really), and these people are a very useful political tool, so I suspect the money will keep coming somehow. Especially since they’ve got a bank account with the usual e-commerce setup.

They’re getting support from, among other places, ex-ACORN apparatchiks, who are up to their old tricks, like exploiting homeless people to do their dirty work.

But I’m more worried about what these people will do when they realize that they’re not going to get their way, that the Army won’t remove the Government like they did in Egypt, and 300 million people won’t simply bow down to the righteous cause. Quite a few of these people really have nothing better to do, pretty much do this for a living. I said in my video segment that I got the impression of being in the parking lot outside a Grateful Dead concert, and that still fits.  Back in the day, lots of people would follow them around for months and years, paying their way by selling drugs or t-shirts or vegetarian sandwiches, or simply putting their hand out and begging for that “miracle ticket”.  When I heard the announcement from a couple of hirsute fellows that they had bus tickets to DC, I was seriously having flashbacks (no, not that kind).

(My batteries ran out again here, but I ended up having a lengthy, intelligent debate with the Occupier wearing glasses. I tried to explain that the Tea Party movement had proved that it was indeed possible to affect change by attending local city council meetings, state legislature open hearings, telling politicians they needed to listen, and by voting.  I don’t know how much he took away with him, but at least he understood there was another way besides occupying government buildings and holding their breath until they turn blue.)

What I mean is that these people can keep doing this for a very long time. And eventually, they’re going to realize that it isn’t working.  Will they fess up and become a ready-made cadre of Obamessiah activists?  I don’t know. If not, the emotions will have driven many of them into a frenzied state over time. Fighting the man, speaking truth to power, getting arrested over and over again, and watching a seemingly endless stream of video clips of their comrades fighting with police, getting pepper-sprayed and bundled into police vans will not yield a happy result.  Like we heard from a couple people, they all seriously think that obstructing traffic and infringing on other people’s space and property is their right. Freedom of speech and right to peaceable assembly and all that. What they tragically fail to understand is that, unlike many blacks in the South before the Civil Rights movement, they can exercise their right to vote without fear, and all this glorious civil disobedience is unnecessary extremist nonsense.  The Tea Party movement has proven that they don’t need to do any of this. I found only a couple of people who even remotely grasped this point.  So I think the violent confrontation – always started by the nasty fascist police infringing on their rights, bien sur – will become a kind of ouroburossian (if that’s not a word, it is now) reality. They’ll continuously create situations which they’ll interpret as justifying their cause, projecting onto it false equivalences with everything from Wat Tyler to the German Peasant Rebellion to Gandhi to MLK and the Civil Rights movement. That’s when you’ll really start to see the stuff the BBC told you would never happen over here.

So What Have I Learned?

First and foremost, I learned that the BBC’s initial reporting on this movement was a load of BS. In case there are any lingering doubts about that, notice that their current coverage describes the comrades at St. Paul’s as being an anti-Capitalist protest.  That has nothing whatsoever to do with what the BBC originally told you were the well-meaning darlings who merely wanted to sit down and work out how to fix the system. We all called it right from the start, yet the sympathetic Beeboids tried to tell you different. They’re all concerned about the state of the economy, angry about bank bailouts, worried about unemployment, we were told.  Clearly that’s not the case at all. As it turns out, the BBC refused to do the tiniest bit of research, refused to ask around, refused to do the slightest investigation into the origins of the protest.  As I’ve already shown, this was planned and announced long in advance. There’s no excuse for the BBC to get this wrong.

The Occupiers here in NYC are fortunate.  They’re operating in a city which is expert in dealing with freakshows and demonstrations and instigators.  And just like police everywhere, at some point whatever sympathy they may have for the Occupiers’ cause will pale in comparison to the sense of duty to their fellows in blue once they see one freeloader after another assault and injure cops.  The New York Police Sergeants’ Benevolent Association is already pissed off, and promising to sue Occupiers who harm any of their members.  Remember, these are the same policemen who witnessed Tea Partiers thank them for their time and effort after our own protests. Which were negotiated with authorities in advance, permits paid, everyone leaving at the scheduled time. Funny how Katty Kay never enthused about how nice we were.  And I can tell you from personal experience that not a few NY cops were initially unhappy about dealing with a gathering of what they assumed were angry Right-wingnuts.  Cops in the big US cities are likely to be just as Left-leaning as in the UK. But in NYC, they know the difference between concerned citizens and irrational zealots.

What’s even worse is that this is only going to get uglier, more violent, as the frustration at their failure to achieve instant “change” builds, and as they see their comrades get involved in dangerous physical confrontations with police around the country.  When you have nothing to lose, and no idea what you’re doing, only horror can occur.  This will all end in tears, and the BBC will support them to the bitter end, blaming everyone else.

I hope some of this is helpful in people’s understanding of what’s going on here.  If nothing else, I learned – once again – that we can’t trust the BBC on US issues.  Let’s face it: the BBC is not going to tell you the truth about what’s going on.  There will be no scare-mongering about the “boiling anger” of these people, or speculating over hidden motivations – only sympathy and hand-wringing over income inequality and how these agni innocenti are feeling disconnected from a system which no longer works for them. As everyone here knows by now, there have been many violent outbursts from Occupiers all around the US.  And it can’t all be blamed on the police acting aggressively for no reason.  So where is the BBC coverage?  Sparing at best.

If the BBC was really an honest broker of US news, they’d have the platoon of Beeboids working exclusively for the website working every day on updating you about the incidents occurring practically every hour.  Yet it scarcely gets the time of day on the BBC website, never mind live footage of the latest round of ultra-violence from whatever city is kicking off next.  And let’s not pretend that the Beeboids don’t know how to find out what’s coming up next, as we now know the Occupiers have all kinds of notifications sent out over the social media networks so beloved at the BBC.

Quite frankly, it’s time to say the BBC is filled with liars and propagandists on this score.  Any defenders of the indefensible are welcome to explain why it’s okay for the BBC to censor all of this.  Any lurking BBC employees should be ashamed.

PS:  I left out my chats with the guy who wanted all the troops to come home (they mostly are already), the black Muslim who didn’t want his picture taken and didn’t even know what literature was at his table, the cheerful Truther, and the guy angry at Israel for attacking the USS Liberty (genuinely not anti-Semitic, really, more of a friend-of-the-military guy angry that an ally did that and got away with it), who was also a Truther, as that seems beside the point here.

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36 Responses to Experience Occupy Wall St.: In Person, In Their Own Words And Mine

  1. Beness says:

    Interesting David.

     It seems like a mish mash of festival lovers.

       0 likes

  2. John Anderson says:

    Many thanks,  David.

    As you say – the BBC people in the US really do look like a bunch of liars,  projecting viewsand attitudes that simply do not tally with the truth on the ground.

    ……………………

    It looks as though there may be up to a foot of snow in NYC soon – which would be the earliest heavy snowfall since the Civil War,

    Bring it on !

    wattsupwiththat.com/2011/10/28/major-snow-for-northeastern-usa-nyc-may-get-earliest-1-snowfall-since-the-civil-war/#more-50198

    ……………………

    At least some people in the media see the Occupy craze stinks to high heaven :

    http://www.mediabistro.com/tvspy/kgw-accidentally-airs-graphic-counting-stinky-people-and-angry-people-at-occupy-portland_b27000

       0 likes

  3. My Site (click to edit) says:

    I am unclear why I am compelled to pay the BBC £145.50pa for what amounts to personally-influenced (at best) misinformation.

    You have shown yourself to be a thoughtful and (as much as any individual can be) objective observer, honest in your prejudices but trying to put them in context.

    And, best I can judge, getting this more valuable insight into the reality on the ground, free from the influence of ‘media minders’ and press releases, has cost me nothing.

    So the truth is free, and propaganda costs me.

    There’s a metaphor in there somewhere.

       0 likes

  4. Demon1001 says:

    That was an illuminating read.  Great work.

       0 likes

  5. cjhartnett says:

    A good and balanced piece of work David.
    I feel free to make up my own mind, and I learned things.
    All the BBC would do is create a sandstorm with someone or offer them some drugs to exaggerate themselves for Mardells piece.
    These kids are clueless and need to know something about some of the symbols and flags all around them. They are NOT so clueless and must be happy at the cover they now get.
    Still…in God we trust eh, as your dollar says?
    I trust the American people over nearly any others on earth…and I hate the BBC for its sneering unless and until it keeps Obama as its President.

       0 likes

  6. Davieboy says:

    Another great piece of journalism David, literally “brilliant” in that it sheds light on what’s really going on out there. Thanks for your efforts.

       0 likes

  7. Craig says:

    Very eye-opening, David. Thank you for all your work on this and for carrying it out in such a fair-minded spirit.   
    Behind their facade of impartiality, so many BBC reports are pretty coercive in pushing their particular pre-conceived interpretation of events onto the viewer/listener/reader. You’ve shown, without pretending to an impartial reporter, that it’s possible to put your interpretation across – whilst also giving us the means to make up our own minds – and also to change that interpretation when your preconceptions aren’t met, and admit to so doing.

    Mark Mardell could learn a thing or two from that.

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  8. London Calling says:

    Great citizen journalism David. Vastly superior analysis compared with the £3.4 bn Corporation which our Prime Minister thinks is a “National Treasure”.

    Some lines to cherish:

    “… they want to destroy the entire system in favor of…well…they’re not really sure. Some kind of pre-industrial society, but with MacBooks and iPhones and YouTube, I think”

    And

    “…the BBC is filled with liars and propagandists…”

    Bravo

       0 likes

  9. Jeremy Clarke says:

    A tour de force, David. Nice one!  
     
    Your experiences are not dissimilar to mine with the St. Paul’s protestors. Our occupiers all seem like decent, honest folk each with his and her own set of grievances – okay, there was a sprinkling of moonbats, too – but I sensed there was no unity of purpose.  
     
    The BBC could do worse than to commission you to make a video diary from a Republican/conservative/whatever-you-call-yourself-politically perspective instead of relying on the ‘interpretation’ of their correspondents.
     
    Laura Trevelyan appears to have spent some time with the occupiers but has Katty Kay, I wonder? Or is Katty too much of a media sleb these days to get down and dirty with the Great Unwashed?

       0 likes

  10. LJ says:

    Great report, thanks for going to all the effort for us!!

       0 likes

  11. Span Ows says:

    Superb, I concur with all the comments above…I was fully engrossed and read every word but now have to run to catch a plane!!! =-O

       0 likes

  12. John Anderson says:

    Here’s a useful compendium site recording a lot of the nuttiness and nastiness at various Occupy sites.

    http://www.owsexposed.com/

    National Public Radio is being forced to sack “journalists” who are actually part of the Occupy crowd.  But the BBC will let its transgressors stay in post ? :

    http://www.owsexposed.com/2011/10/29/another-npr-occupier-fired-from-job/

       0 likes

  13. George R says:

    “At last a voice is raised against the bigotry of ‘Occupy’ ”

    (Melanie Phillips)

    http://melaniephillips.com/at-last-a-voice-is-raised-against-the-bigotry-of-occupy

       0 likes

  14. JX says:

    Great post David.

    No doubt you will already have seen the OWS kidults getting pwned by Peter Schiff:

       0 likes

  15. Umbongo says:

    DP

    Really excellent: this is an object lesson in reporting for the “journalists” at the BBC.

    The Occupiers’ verbiage reminds me of student union debates at LSE in the early 60s: largely ill-informed, utopian, lefty junk which, at that time, was ignored by most of the other students and most of the faculty.  The engine of rage then was the Vietnam War (although the Tonkin Resolution was not passed until late ’64) and support for Castro: the engine now is the economic melt-down (both, of course, mainly down to the politicians).  Funnily enough yesterday the HuffPost published this call to arms http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joan-e-dowlin/occupy-movement-drugs_b_1034087.html from a “musician”.

    Of course, non-lefties were concerned then with what was happening and why in Vietnam (and Cuba) as much as we are concerned now with how and why the financial and economic systems of the West got into – and continue in – their present parlous state.  But, hey, don’t expect any disinterested analysis from the BBC.  In the narrative, the Occupiers – and whoever is organising them – are not only “nice” but their analysis and solutions (whatever they are as long as they resolve, effectively, into “smash the banks”) are beyond criticsm and steeped in moral force.

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  16. Cassandra King says:

    Two Controversies Threaten to Derail Obama’s Re-Election Bid <img src=”http://a57.foxnews.com/static/managed/img/Politics/397/224/obama_limo_102511.jpg” alt=”President Obama prepares to enter his limousine after arriving at San Francisco International airport in San Francisco, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011. “/>

    AP2011
    With the controversies over Solyndra and Fast and Furious showing no signs of going away anytime soon, President Obama faces an uphill battle of staying focused on winning re-election next November.

    But whats this? The BBC missing not one but two scandals involving a beleagured POTUS, Hundreds of millions pissed up the wall and as yet no satisfactory reason bar etherial stupidity or corruption. Not a peep from the BBC about a widening pair of scandals that could well end Obama.

       0 likes

  17. Grant says:

    Oh dear, I deleted my earlier post in error. Don’t suppose there is a “restore” function ?

       0 likes

  18. John Anderson says:

    Remember the loons at OccupyCamelot ? – not much difference with today’s class warriors bleating about exploitation :

       0 likes

  19. John Anderson says:

    Maybe this cartoon summarises the way the BBC softsoaps the Occupy loonies but has been vitriolic towards the Tea Party,  Alinsky-fashion :

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-7WW0_as03ts/TqsGgrAt-WI/AAAAAAAAAVQ/T9YKWbN-4pY/s1600/ows-vs-tea-party.jpg

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  20. John Anderson says:

    and this summarises the REAL differences,  which the BBC deliberately distorts :

    http://blogodidact.blogspot.com/2011/10/before-giving-answers-please-ask-this.html

       0 likes

  21. cjhartnett says:

    Today had on…for the third day…the St Pauls protesters.
    Yet again, the BBC view to push is that those nasty church types are as bad as the Chinese inTiananmen in clearing the protesters…all they need now is Giles Fraser on a mobility scooter facing down the binmen and we have out iconic image of the 2011 Insurgency.
    They interviewed Marina Hyde…and she thought the Church were beastly…and here she is in todays Guardian saying the selfsame thing.
    Clearly we need not buy the Guardian…for the BBC are happy for their godless hacks to hold their editorial meetings there at the Beeb on a Saturday morning…a fine coordinated campaign to slag off St Pauls.
    The article shows her ignorance  of Christianity…but that`s a plus to the leftlibs running the show.

       0 likes

    • Grant says:

      cj,
      Although I am an atheist, I believe St.Paul’s and all the  cathedrals of Britain are wonders of history and architecture and I do not like seeing one of them desecrated by here today, gone tomorrow lowlifers !

         0 likes

  22. Jonathan S says:

    there should be an occupy labour hq, because they caused all this shit

       0 likes

    • Reed says:

      Absolutely, Jonathan. They can be as unsanitary as they like over at Labour Party HQ, who’s members left us so deep in shite that we’ll be tainted for a long time to come. Not that this band of professional malcontents and inadequate halfwits is likely to make it’s way there. This lot can’t even identify the real culprits responsible for the austerity measures, let alone put forward any coherent solutions. I guess the late summer ‘climate change camps’ have fallen out of fashion, as the usual suspects have found a new activist territory on which to pitch their tents for yet another jamboree of petulant indignation.  I am SO bored with the growing plague of protesters and their foot-stamping ‘give me what I want now’ banners and slogans. They all blend into one big self-indulgent lefty mush. Go away!  

         0 likes

  23. Reed says:

    David…Many thanks for going to such great lengths to record your discussions and providing such a detailed write-up. I learned more from this one post than a whole host of reports from ALL the main news broadcasters, many of whom decided to TELL us what the protesters are there for, rather than letting them do so in their own muddled words.

       0 likes

    • Grant says:

      Reed,
      I totally agree. I posted much the same earlier, then deleted it accidently. David should apply for a job at the BBC. Er…………

         0 likes

  24. David Preiser (USA) says:

    UPDATE: It seems that the nasty old Billionaire Bloomberg sent in the cops and fire dept. to confiscate all those generators.  Six of them, apparently.  All in the name of “safety”.  Pretty lame.  
     
    They’ve had them for weeks, and magically the mayor decides it’s not safe the day before a snowstorm. This is the kind of idiot move that reinforces the Occupiers’ beliefs.

       0 likes

  25. George R says:

    From Glenn BECK’s ‘The Blaze':

    “Take Our Test: Here’s a 7:58 Video Collection of Occupy Wall Street Chants & Songs — When Will You Tap Out?”

    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/take-our-test-heres-a-758-video-collection-of-occupy-wall-street-chants-songs-when-will-you-tap-out/

       0 likes

  26. hippiepooter says:

    DP, reading this while catching up on Strictly Dancing on iplayer and tempted to go into a lot of the judges’ superlatives in praise of this piece (read most of it). I’ll simply say ‘cha, cha, cha darling. You were stupendous’.

    The one comment I’d make is it was no accident that at the outset and for a week thereafter the BBC were reporting this from the occupiers’ hymn sheet. When BBC reporters told the public that these are ordinary middle class people worried about their futre who just ‘wanted to fix the system’, they were lying through their back teeth. These lies were clearly coordinated with the protest organisers. When the lying became unsustainable through the contrast in reporting from non-propaganda sources like ITN, the BBC felt forced to change their tune lest its blatant bias attract too much unwanted attention.

    BBC bent at its most blatant.

    Cha, cha, cha.

       0 likes

  27. hippiepooter says:

    Caught the last part of someone talking to the BBC News24 studio presenter about the occupiers outside St Pauls.  From what he was saying I thought he was someone to do with the Church with a lot of political sympathy for the occupiers.

    Just caught this guy again.  Turns out to be BBC Correspondent Robert Piggott.

       0 likes

  28. D B says:

    Great work again DP. One thing missing – interviews with imbecilic stoners.

       0 likes

  29. Span Ows says:

    This is outstanding David, were there no comments at the time? I seem to recall commenting on a few, or is this a rewrite of a few of your Occupy posts?

       0 likes