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I Went To Occupy Wall Street: This Is What I Saw

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So, with all the blah-de-blah and hoo-de-doo I've been posting about Occupy Wall St. (and the subsequent Occupy [insert city here] movement, which has reached over 1000 cities so far), I heard a ton of feedback. Most of it fell into the "I agree, people taking action always beats people sitting on their asses and complaining" category, agreeing with the only actual point I'm trying to make.

But some of it has come back to me as "Nuh uh!" And a whole lot of misinformation, slander, ridiculous statistics and general nonsense. So, I decided to get my camera, fly my ass up from Atlanta to New York City, and see it for myself.

Below is a slideshow of 87 of the over 800 photos I took. I selected these because I felt they really told the story of what's going on there (and also, because of 800 or so photos, roughly 600 of them are blurry because I'm a shitty photographer).  After the slideshow, I'll share a few of my favorites / the most poignant.


(Can't see the slideshow above? click here for the full photo set)


Some of the highlights are below -- but please do view the full set.



Walking toward the NYSE, you could see cops at the far end of the road. The chanting was very dull from this distance, but grew louder as we approached.  


Cops were EVERYWHERE. Anything near the NYSE was blocked off and guarded. 


This was the north end of Zuccutti Park at the corner of Liberty and Trinity, where the occupation is taking place...

...And this was the south view. The park was PACKED. 


A view of one of the many American flags hanging up around the park. The vibe at the occupation was not anti-American at all -- it was very much in support of the actual American dream. 


Occupiers were VERY protective of the flowers, plants and trees at the park. They understood that keeping the park clean and neat was essential to removing reasons why they'd have to leave.


Several people had live streaming broadcasts of the occupation via cellular connection. If you look closely, you can see me behind this guy with my camera.


The organization of this occupation was nearly staggering. Food, clothing, deodorant, water -- all given away for free by volunteers, paid for by donations. You can see more of what was given out and how it ran in the full photo set.


This was one of the hardest working people I saw up there. She prepared and served food all afternoon.


The occupation work schedule. They had food, sanitation, media and speaking staff and engagements planned out. 


The thin line between occupation and police. 


Cops were very mobile at the occupation. They had motorcycles, horses, cars, vans, trucks and even segways.


At every good dissenting event, there's a drum circle. This is no different.


People had stencils to make custom shirts all around the park.


Even yuppies attended. Bag Dog is not amused.


My friend and Fark.com coworker Tony Deconinck helps a lady down a very small stair. People were stumbling there all afternoon, and he stood there for over an hour helping people not fall. Such was the spirit of this thing -- you just wanted to be good to each other.


Anonymous had a huge presence at this thing. And no, no one fucked with their shit.


A self-appointed sanitation worker discusses what needs to be done. Behind him, you can see the bin of socks, underwear and other goods that were free for those who needed them.


I just really liked the perspective on this shot. 


There was a central hub of live broadcasting in the middle of the park. Everything was live-broadcasted. The occupation got smart -- they know that they need eyes on them at all times to keep disinformation to a minimum.

A speaker (in the black sweater) speaks to the crowd. In lieu of microphones and megaphones, the crowd chanted back what was said every sentence, so that everyone could hear the message. 


A member of Anonymous got beat down by cops on Wednesday, and the photo ended up in the New York Post (he's on the left, being held down). He was back Saturday. 


Screen printers made free shirts for anyone who wanted them.


Veterans for Peace were a heavy presence at the occupation as well. This veteran is being interviewed by someone who identified himself as a "Conservative Blogger." The conversation was very respectful; the blogger was mostly interested in the reasons why a veteran would support the occupation.

A real life Guy Fawkes. 

As I said, there are many, many more in the full photo set. The primary goal of this adventure is to try as hard as I can to put a stop to disinformation and falsehood being spread about the occupation. While I was there, everyone was calm with one another, but angry with the situation. They were respectful. They kept the park clean, and they never once instigated battles with cops or with those who disagreed.

Tourists in I <3 New York shirts, who very obviously were not from New York, passed by periodically, and a few of the more southern/midwestern types would yell "GOD BLESS AMERICA!" or "DIRTY HIPPIES!" at the occupation. No one confronted them. No one fought. In fact, the only actual altercation I saw involved a man in an Iowa State sweatshirt shoving a girl on the sidewalk. Those near her rushed to pick her up, and shamed the man into leaving. 

Later Saturday night, long after I'd left, the occupation marched on Times Square. I wish I had been there to get shots. From what I could tell and from what I heard, the occupation was peaceful and the demonstration was mostly peaceful.

Your turn. Before you go passing opinions on any occupation in your city that's being reported on as rude, aggressive, destructive, hostile or anything else, why not head down and see what's going on for yourself? Maybe ask them what it's all about? 

Maybe you can get out of your chair and do something. If you disagree with it, go down to the one closest to you and talk it out. Investigate it. Discuss it. Have open discourse. Don't just sit there and whine to your coworkers or neighbors or family. Do something.

If you support it ... Well shit, you know what you should be doing right now. 

View the original post at My Journal! You can get my latest book Mentally Incontinent on Amazon.com ! Check out my Art of Akira Exhibit! Also, Write me a letter!