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My First Experience with the Occupy Movement

Today I went into center city with Rob to follow the ongoing
occupy movement and see the various organizations congregating in the
Philadelphia area. While I had previously analyzed the Oakland, CA
occupy movement in terms of media coverage for my Media in Society
course at Temple University, I had never actually physically been
involved or around the movement myself. I also had no previous strong
knowledge on many of the issues being protested. I found it difficult to
participate in discussions because I simply did not have the knowledge
on the subjects to do so. To begin, this experience was extremely
humbling to me. Many of the various groups showed up protesting
different issues and they had clearly done their homework that could be
seen through the signs they made, the demonstrations, and the facts that
were often shouted in tandem with intensity. There were so many people
marching and persisting in the harsh heat believing in the movement
while I simply had nothing to say. Some of the issues such as ending the
war conflicts in the middle east, the 99% versus 1%, and ending
corporate greed in general were recurring. Between actively
participating in a march down Market street and hearing countless
passionate speeches from guests in Franklin square, I witnessed and
experienced a lot of new things today.

On the train to
center city, Rob and I also just happened to be sitting next to a fellow
member of the Occupy movement. He had brought bags of gear and supplies
as he was planning to stay with the other occupiers. He began to tell
us about the differences in protest with Brazil, where he was originally
from, and the United States. In particular, he pointed out how lucky
protesters have it in America versus other countries where protesters
are met with even more aggression and in some cases shot by the
authorities. That being said, Philadelphia met my expectations in
regards to police presence. 

In covering the occupy
Oakland movement, I noticed many examples in social media such as
youtube videos of police brutality that were being ignored and framed by
political mainstream media. This knowledge had me observing the
response of the law enforcements in Philadelphia to compare the two,
throughout the day. As soon as I arrived at one of the first public
displays in front of the Philadelphia stock exchange, I noticed the
police had already sent a significant amount of officers and vehicles to
the area. In fact it was overkill. The group out front of the stock
exchange was not that large at all and yet there were many police.

The
next march I ran into while heading back to 15th and Market. I had
received a text update from the natgat stating another protest was
underway at 15th and market. I had received many updates directly sent
to my phone throughout the day. This helped direct the occupy
participants to the various events and important information.  The
marching group was already heading towards me when I decided to follow
it for a little while. The entire march was followed by police officers
on all sides. From what I saw fortunately, there was no brutality on the
level previously witnessed in the social media coverage from Oakland.

 Many
of the demonstrations and activity was located in the Franklin Square
park. I walked around and saw great diversity. There were many people
from all different backgrounds and walks of life.  Many of the occupy
activists were all sitting in organized groups often in the grass in
circles, simply discussing the issues with one another in a very calm
and rational manner. Everyone waited patiently for their chance to speak
and everyone went one at a time. This behavior proved another habit of
the mainstream media wrong: portraying the occupy activists as violent
and aggressive anarchists.  A common theme among the demonstrators’
speeches revolved around the idea of the movement itself: people coming
together, to be unified with a common cause. The group of veterans for
peace and a free Mumia group demonstrated just that. The veterans were
informed that their permits to protest were up. The Mumia group agreed
to share the space so that the veterans could stay and protest.

The
only previous experience I had with public protest was during my
freshman year of college when i marched with several of my fellow
students to protest the Pennsylvania education budget cuts. While this
march was also large, it did not have as significant of a police
presence. There seems to be extra tension between the police and the
occupy movement. I compared both of these experiences and found both of
them to be ultimately rewarding. As one of the guest speakers stressed
today: it is imperative that the people stand up for something. It was a
good experience and one where you can feel like you are part of
something bigger and greater than yourself.   

http://www.opednews.com/articles/My-First-Experience-with-t-by-Justin-Roden-120703-468.html

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