Last fall, Occupy Wall Street became a national force. People across the country and across the world joined together in a display of peace, love and harmony. People coming together with a single unified voice sang out for change. Their demands were simple, reasonable and could have been easily met. The public, resistant at first, soon was able to see the light, and swelled up like a waterspout of unwavering support.
Except it wasn’t that way. And neither was Occupy Rochester’s attempt to occupy the March 16th New York state GOP Convention in downtown Rochester.
The march was supposed to begin around 5:00 pm, and lead from their occupied Washington Square Park grounds a few blocks down to the convention center, where the GOP "pigs" would be exiting the building. There they would be holding a "Peoples Press Conference," where the little guy’s voice could be heard.
Workers of the world unite? Hardly.
About an hour and a half before the march’s kick off, you would have expected people to be swarming the park, like they did last fall. They didn’t. There were maybe 15 people in the park, tops. A small gathering was situated around a group of tents that would have made the occupants of the original "Hoovervilles" feel bad. Three others were gathered around the parks statue, attempting to look commanding.
Well, at least there were people swarming the convention center, right? Well, nope. Afraid not. Just a few Ron Paul supporters, who according to some witnesses had been there all day.
I overheard chatter between one gentleman with impressive dreadlocks and another organizer on how they expected at least 100-200 people to take place in the march. Wishful thinking.
The leaders of the march carried a sign that read “Occupy Rochester. Community Not Empire.” Other such greatest hits included “Rise Up and Resist, Free Bradley Manning,” “No cuts no feeds, education should be free,” and “Super Rich Owe Their Fair Share.” The Moveon.org pennant was a nice touch as well. My personal favorite was a professionally made banner that said, “Another World is Possible.” That banner had a web address which read socialistworkers.org.
Apparently Occupy Rochester’s leader (such as they are) had reached out like other Occupy chapters to Move On, Metro Justice, and various international socialist organizations for help, which would explain the professionally made banners. It was a display that failed to reach hearts and minds.
When I inquired about why they may have felt that change was so difficult to bring, even to a sympathetic area like Rochester which had a devastated economy years before the 2008 financial crisis, he responded by saying that he felt Rochester’s government was too "conservative" to ever really change. Rochester has nothing on its city council but liberal Democrats, and has not elected a Republican mayor since the early 1970’s. Even the most moderate Republicans get crushed in 80% landslides every few years.
Yes, they want an end to war, and end to oil and free education for all! They want the evil GOP that is going around personally halting abortions with their bare hands to cease and desist! They hope that green energy can rule with a feathery fist and that corporations become a thing of the past, so that we can all live by campfire light, I assume.
Even Rochester’s liberal Mayor Tom Richards is becoming fed up with Occupy Rochester, hoping to find a way to evict them from the downtown park. When asked about why the movement had died down so much, people said that they felt it has only "physically" died down. They believed the movement still had energy, but was now more displaced, and floating around amongst the public.
People may honk their car horn as they drive by because it will make them feel good for a second, but not many are going to throw away their jobs and join the occupation. Sorry folks. Occupy died months ago, they just haven’t realized it yet. They died when they attacked people for asking questions in the same noisy manner that they did. They died when there were constant allegations of drugs, weapons hoarding, and rape. Rather than disperse and get women to hospitals or crisis centers, some occupy movements set up rape tents to help the victims.
They want free birth control, free health care, free education and free energy. A free living wage, and the freedom to live like the homeless they want people to give free housing to. Free this and free that. And free Mumia too while we're at it!
The first rule of economics is that there is no such thing as a free lunch. People cannot have their lives paid for, no matter how much they may really want it. No one is entitled to it. The only thing the occupiers are entitled to are their opinion, and their right to protest. The sad part for them is that no one seems to really care all that much.
If that’s true, then maybe there’s hope for America after all.
Photo Credit: Jesse Merkel