Future Wife and I went for a walk last night, unfortunately after most of the trick or treating was done and almost to that time of Halloween night when drunks walk awkwardly around city streets, stumbling while dressed in a cow costumes and sexy insert animal or occupation here costumes. But it was not the Halloween costumes that confused me and it was not missing the annual show the weird massage place down the street performs that disappointed me.
Our dear friends at Occupy Philly managed to do both just fine.
There was a commotion coming down South Street, led by flashing blue lights and a slow-moving police cruiser. What was it? My first thought was that it was probably some weirdo Halloween parade and we could see a couple large paper Mache heads bobbing above the crowd that was approaching us. Hipsters maybe? Puerto Ricans maybe? Art students maybe? Occupy Philly? Unfortunately.
Besides driving past their encampment in front of City Hall and following their calls for donations on Twitter, this was our first encounter with the movement, an offspring of the Occupy Movement that was sweeping the nation faster than a Kim Kardashian marriage. The crowd moving down South Street was maybe only fifty people strong and was clearly branded by a nice new white banner that read “Occupy Philly.” I wonder who donated that. Some of the marchers were dressed like zombies and they were all trying their best to chant in unison. “We are the walking dead,” they chanted. In the middle of the group, someone was keeping time on a plastic bucket. I was a little disappointed by the lack of hand drums.
As they passed, they pointed at us on the sidewalk and said we were the walking dead. Some people marching even said that we were the problem. They implored us to join them. A dude with a laminated credential followed the crowd on the side walk. According to his official looking credential, he was Occupy Philly Security. Again I wondered- who donated that. The crowd was definitely rag tag and varied in age and race. It was definitely not one select group of people and I appreciated that. But after the first part of the group passed I noticed a drop in intensity and enthusiasm. The folks in the middle and those pulling up the rear weren’t chanting. They were just walking and didn’t seem to really know what for. I guess the overall numbers of the march are what are important on some level, but it certainly seemed strange to see such passion at the front of the march and then all of the blank expressions towards the back.
I am not the walking dead, I thought, and took umbrage with them pointing at me while saying this. Maybe I’m not out there freezing my ass off in front of City Hall and joining scrambled egg marches to banks and down South Street, but that doesn’t mean I’m happy with our country right now. It could be that I’m taking it too personally, but that stuck with me. The way they marched and called out the bystanders on the sidewalk made it seem like anyone not marching was the enemy; like we were somehow at fault. Who is leading this shit show? Who is in charge? What’s the point?
These things aren’t going to end well. They just aren’t. I appreciate what they are doing and to a point, support them- but I’m a realist and at some point, city officials in all of these cities are going to say enough is enough. In Philly, a multi-million dollar construction project is planned for Dilworth Plaza, the area in front of City Hall where the Occupy Philly is based out of. The city has said it will create 500-1,000 jobs. If Occupy Philly holds this up, aren’t they then helping cause one of the problems they are supposedly against? What about all the money the city is paying to have cops over-seeing these occupations? That’s tax-payers money. That too seems counter-productive. Would this movement be any different if it was organized in coffee shops?
From the beginning of the Occupy Movement, I have struggled to understand what it really is. And while I want to support it because I do feel that our country has some serious issues, I just can’t. It doesn’t seem like there is any organization and there doesn’t seem to be a goal. A goal is concrete. A goal is crossing everything off of your to-do list. But what is on the to-do list of Occupy Philly? What did the march down South Street accomplish? The stand-off with Eric Cantor was good and brought some much-needed attention to the hypocrisy of his planned speech and I applaud those behind that demonstration. But to make an impact and to really enforce some change, there needs to be more of that and less of last night. Marching to march? You seem direction-less.
When this is over and the tents are packed up, I’m not sure how we will look back on this whole thing. The book has yet to be written about the Occupy Movement and there is still time to come up with the right ending. I support the idea. Good for them. But I believe in doing things because you should, not because you can. I implore the Occupy folks to think about that before marching for no reason and making people out on Monday night feel bad about themselves. We are not the problem. Point at me and tell me I am, well then I become the problem.
That’s no way to make friends.