I loved just about everything about the march yesterday in lower Manhattan: the range of people: young to old, black, white, and brown (though I had hoped for a larger proportion of people of color), and not so well-off to pretty well-off. Great spirit, seriousness of purpose, and excellent signs (except for the usual sectarian suspects, who seem to keep an inexhaustible stash of "anti-imperialist," "anti-capitalist" placards, and stacks of their unreadable newspapers). I liked, perhaps selfishly, "Listen to the Warrens." It took me a minute, but I did figure out Warren Buffet and Elizabeth Warren. Other personal favorites: "Robin Hood Was Right," "We March for Hope, Not Hate," and Move-on.org's image of a dollar bill with the caption "This is more than Exxon, BP, and Bank of America paid in taxes last year," held by a minister who'd come in from Jersey City. And of course the ubiquitous new slogan of the movement: "We are the 99%."
What I did not love -- and in fact really, really hated -- was being penned in by cops onto narrow sidewalks and into really crowded spaces by New York's finest -- who seemed to enjoy strolling back and forth officiously in the wide empty streets greeting each other as though is was old home week. Uniforms, of course, lined the barriers looking tough, while the guys in suits talked importantly on cellphones and had a grand old time. If you hear resentment in these words, you are right.
We pay these guys' salaries. Our taxes pay for the streets, the sidewalks, even the barriers they use to pen us in. It was OUR streets we were prevented from walking in. It was OUR police force penning us into narrow cramped spaces. Why are citizens of a presumably mature, open democracy, allowing ourselves -- the 99% -- to be herded like so many cattle while the bulls and bears of Wall Street enjoy their gambols to and fro, wherever they wish to go?
It's time for us to reclaim the streets -- our streets. Quietly, non-violently, but with determination and the conviction that they belong to us, not to the cops.