i came up with this number by counting the marchers as they passed by me on their way onto lafayette square. not scientific, perhaps, but the best way i know to judge the actual size of a moving group of people.
by comparison, i heard other major media/reporters along the way asking each other “how many do you think?”, each guessing differing estimates that were considerably less than my tally. when an nopd officer tasked with monitoring the event was asked by two reporters for an estimate, the officer indicated that a guesstimate somewhere north of four hundred would be closer to it.
i share this info with you just so’s you can judge accordingly the veracity of the reports you see/hear/read elsewhere.
a) the march and rally took place in the middle of a workday; and
b) the original wall street rally started with about 200 people, i’d say the locals have gotten off to a pretty decent start.
and, sorry to disappoint the teabagger apologists who like to depict their fellow citizens in the occupy wall street movement as a dirty scroungy pack of young thugs, this crowd was anything but that, as you can see from the photos i took and are available for your viewing below.
there were young people to be sure, but they were the kind most sane parents would be proud of: smart, engaged, funny, and armed with a social conscience and a desire to help their fellow citizens.
and many of them were rightfully peeved that unpunished corporate crime and political corruption have led to the craphouse of an economy that offers them no decent jobs or careers to look forward to, jobs that would help them pay off the student loans that now burden them.
there were also families who participated, parents with children in strollers, as well as men and women in business attire, coastal restoration volunteers, retirees, retailers, military veterans, middle-aged guys in golf shirts, lawyers, coffee shop employees, union members, health care advocates, white, black, hispanic….you know…americans.
it’s that energizing diversity and inclusiveness of occupy nola and occupy wall street that stands in blinding contrast to the crusty saggy white teabag element.
unlike the teabag corporate media freak shows, there was no booing of our nation’s troops serving in iraq at this rally. there were no screams of “let him die” when people spoke of health care for those in need. there was no one forcing their religious beliefs onto candidates for office. what a refreshing change of pace!
to be sure, there were villains to be held to account in the eyes of the marchers, as attested to by their signs. after all, what kind of respectable rally would this be without signs?
one rather verbose sign caught my attention, a quote from a republican president you may remember, abraham lincoln:
“corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the republic is destroyed.”
honest abe was truly a great president. don’t you wish the republicans had a candidate of his stature running today?
my favorite sign summed it up quite nicely. a guy in a guy fawkes mask decorated with a new orleans saints fleur des lis carried this simple message: “who dat? we dat 99%”.
teabaggers and their corporate media pets like to muddy up the issues by saying they don’t understand what the occupation movement wants, that their message isn’t clear. of course that’s just because their own message is all too clear and turning off people in droves. the teabag message is about kissing rich people’s butts, and homophobia, and evangelical extremism, and treating the poor and jobless like crap. they’ve got theirs, thanks, and to hell with everyone else.
in my last column i offered my understanding of the key issues of the occupy wall street movement, as well as the occupy new orleans offshoot. after talking with and listening to people at today’s event, i’m glad to report that i see no reason to alter my understanding of the four main points:
#1. they want corporate criminals punished and their corrupting money out of the political process.
#2. they’re for just about everything that teabaggers detest.
#3. they want the president to grow a pair and remember who elected him.
#4. if not clear about specific issues, revisit #2.
to be sure, there are a few local and tangential issues as well, but like i said, overall, revisit point #2.
as of this writing several dozen occupy new orleans movement members have set up a sleep-in camp at duncan plaza, a tactic that is a staple of the occupy movement in dozens of cities across america. i will be checking on this development in the days ahead, and will let you know when any news of note is there to be reported.
finally, in the lead-up to today’s rally and because apparently my columns have actually garnered the attention of a few readers, in the last few days i have received, via a variety of communications devices, a few messages and missives that reek of borderline threats of violence and intimidation. some were sent by people dumb enough to be easily identified and tracked. and so i have done so, for future use and reference.
to these pathetic schoolyard bullies who never grew up, who get red-faced with rage when anyone dares disagree with their twisted and perverse little idea of what america should be, i have my own message:
you want “your country” back? thousands of angry, frustrated and civically motivated middle class families are marching with the young and the well-educated and the hopeless. they’re marching in the streets because they don’t want the same delusional fantasyland that you types would want if you had the country your way. they are taking to the streets because the american dream is being perverted by those who brought the economy to its knees and who are smart enough to know how to pull on your dumb heart strings knowing you will do their bidding as they laugh all the way to the bank. that’s
and, what’s left? one day soon, your own kids will be going hungry and the brothers and sisters of your own flesh and blood are not only going to be being left out of the american dream, but will join your fellow americans in falling into a nightmare of despair.
by Sid Arroyo
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Sidney Arroyo is a progressive political activist and consultant who has worked on numerous campaigns in the New Orleans area.