Last night I attended one of many meetings taking place in nearly 900 cities around the U.S. to spread the Occupy Wall Street movement beyond New York. Our meeting was in downtown Ft. Lauderdale, outside the main public library. It was the first meeting of the Ft. Lauderdale group. About 200 people attended, at least half, I think, under 30 years old.
The first order of business was to read the Declaration of Occupation of New York City, by the Wall Street group. This is a list of grievances, mostly economic in nature, against corporations, and calls to people around the world to exercise their power against similar grievances. That call states "Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone."
The purpose of this first meeting was to provide a forum for individual statements. This was meant as an exercise to get to know each other, as well as share experiences so that the group can organize at later stages.
Here is a summary of those statements, and afterwards, a brief thought of my own regarding the Occupy Wall Street movement. I don't pretend that these are any sort of official "minutes of the meeting." They're just my notes...
An independent candidate for Congress named Andrew noted the fact that no stockbrokers responsible for the fradulent activities that caused the great recession have gone to jail. He also said that the U.S. has for too long occupied other countries ... it is time for the people of the U.S. to occupy our own country.
A young man from Estonia spoke of how the independence movement there started very small, only hundreds of people, but became a country. He advised the group to "start a democracy and grow it."
A young man whose wife was recently laid off by the school board due to cuts said "start locally," don't forget the state legislature, and try to fight for establishment of a recall procedure within our state.
- Advertisement -
A young man named John expressed anger at reverse mortgage scams, and at politicians who say if people are unemployed or not rich it's their own fault. He advised not to let this movement get hijacked by politicians; that the movement should be one of ideas, not political loyalties.
A woman named Pat stated "we have no leaders. We are all leaders."
An older woman named Patty stated "I have Social Security and Medicare. My children, who are in their 40s don't have that promise. We need to work to erase the income caps so that we can insure funding for Social Security in the future."
A young man described the Occupy movement as an "immune response" because the system is diseased.
A woman who had worked until recently for Merrill Lynch advised to close accounts at big banks and move money to credit unions and pointed to the latest moves to place transaction fees on debit cards as another sign of unlimited greed.
A woman who had worked on Wall Street and who now runs an economic news agency said that in covering the 2007 crisis, she had seen firsthand that those inside the government had had no idea what was going on.
Tim, a man who works for AT&T and who is a leader in the local Communications Workers of America called upon the group to stand up for those fighting for their wages and benefits and they would fight for yours. He stated that AT&T's CEO's compensation was 523 times that of the highest paid worker. He also said that the money for the golden parachutes paid to CEO's whose companies failed should belong to the workers of those companies.