Last week I wrote about my experience checking out Occupy Wall Street in NY. Now, here is my colleague Sean Garren's report from Occupy K Street:
"A friend of mine, who worked with me during the '08 election period, was recently featured on MTV as one of the lead organizers for Occupy Wall Street in New York City. Hearing him talk about why he was there demanding that the 99% get their fair share, watching him give a tour through the encampment, and seeing all the systems they had in place, I was impressed with this movement.
So, when I turned on my television and saw how the Occupiers were being covered, I just could not believe it. I have heard them called a bunch of filth, rapists, anarchists and drug dealers. Not only have I seen no evidence of those horrific charges, but I know my friend would not be a part of such a movement. Adam went to Zuccotti Park in New York City to see and report back on the Occupiers there, and I decided I would go down to McPherson Square and see Occupy K Street in Washington, DC first hand.
On November 17th, I took the metro down to McPherson Square. It was in the low 40s and raining, so I was a bit afraid that everyone would be zipped up in their tents. That was not the case.
The first person I who greeted me was Pedro. Pedro was just coming back to his tent from cleaning up around the park. Pedro was a cook and server for a local food service company, but he has taken up residence in the park and proudly told me he has been here for 34 days.
Pedro joined the Occupiers because he wants his money back. He pays 28% of his salary in taxes. This would be fine if this money supported the 99%; but he feels that the government, "isn't using it right." So, when I asked him what law he could pass if he had control today, Pedro said he would require that we get all the bailout money back, with real consequences for those that refused, and then, "spend all that money immediately on creating jobs."
After I said goodbye to Pedro, I was immediately attracted to the library tent. So many books! While perusing the selection, I struck up a conversation with Phillip who was manning the library.
Phillip has been "Occupying" for a week and a half now, and he seemed to love the community he found there. Phillip is a devout Christian, with a bible open on the table in front of him, and he thinks that the way our economy and politics work right now just do not match up with his morals. He believes that, "God's way is to protect the helpless," and that our society needed to reflect the golden rule -- "treat others as you would have others treat you."
Now, the folks down at McPherson Square are not an overwhelmingly Christian bunch, so I asked Phillip what it was like to talk and work with others that had different views of the world. He said that the Occupiers had respectful and critical debates with each other, and he had never felt like he could not fit in.
As I left the library, I noticed Guy standing in the middle of the park by himself. Guy had just arrived at McPherson Square, and was there because his church's social justice ministry supported Occupy Wall Street and was joining a protest happening at noon. Guy has two masters degrees and his real estate license, but was recently laid off from his job at Walter Reed Military Medical Center.
Guy has two major goals driving his participation in the Occupy movement. He quickly pointed out to me that, "every DC resident, not just the 99%, has no vote or voice in Congress," and that is not fair or just for anyone. His second reason was to encourage the President to side-step the, "do-nothing Congress," and use every power at his disposal to create jobs himself.
Finally, on my way out of the park, I ran into a big group of local educators from the Washington Teachers' Union who were coming to join in the protest. The Teachers' Union supports the goals of the Occupiers, and they were there to lend their numbers, voices and picturesque red jackets to the fight for a fair economy.
At the end of my visit to Occupy Wall Street in Washington, DC, there was one thing that really struck me -- this was a well-organized, supportive and open community. Instead of lacking leadership, a message or a goal -- there was a diverse and broad set of leaders, beliefs and goals that were working together to lift all boats."