I know lots of people who said the protesters in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan wouldn’t last beyond Columbus Day, but they are as wrong as those people who once said that the Beatles were just a fad and would be forgotten in a few months. Now, after the first snowfall of the season and close to freezing temperatures, the protesters are still encamped in the park, even after the FDNY took away their generators because of “safety” precautions.
Pretty soon we are going to start thinking of these people as a new breed of protesters. Perhaps they are not even protesters anymore, but revolutionaries, freedom fighters in every sense of the word similar to Washington and his men at Valley Forge. If they can last the winter there it will be amazing, and then who knows what kind of long term change can come out of this?
Of course, life for the Occupy Wall Street gang is not all land of milk and honey stuff. I hear from people who work down there that the encampment is actually split into two distinct groups: the original protesters who are hunkered down for the long haul, and the drop-in variety of hangers-on who got the notion to get in on a good thing, grab some free food, and crash the party. The committed group is on the East side of the park, and those with little interest in the cause (and some of them committing crimes) are on the West side.
Of course, this is to be expected. Hundreds of people are living in a small space, and as the temperature drops things are going to get harder. Still, those whose voices have shaken not just this city but the world are in position not to be taken for granted. Too many people have shrugged off the notion of the 99%, but celebrities and politicians have shown their support, and the truth is that the 1% folks better face the reality that this protest has brought into focus: these people are mad as hell and clearly not going to take it anymore.
I think that the protesters in lower Manhattan are evolving, and the more committed they are to their cause the stronger they will become. All over the country and all over the world they have inspired others to do the same thing. These tent cities filled with people who are raging against the machine are not an aberration, so maybe those fat cats on Wall Street and on all those other streets where the wealthy look down on the people in the streets from their ivory skyscrapers, will not take them seriously, like those who mocked the Beatles by wearing the mop-top wigs. However, something that started as a protest has become a movement, something that the 1% cannot fathom or appreciate, at least not yet.
In the end, and yes, the Zuccotti Park gang will eventually disperse, it is not how long that they are camped out but the fact that they did it at all, and Mayor Bloomberg and all his 1% pals could do nothing about it. The Zuccotti Gang are there until they choose to leave, and then it will be on their own terms. Whenever that happens is not the point, and the truth is that change is coming. Long ago those men who were freezing at Valley Forge knew it, and the Zuccotti Park crew know it too. Before King George knew what hit him, America was lost; perhaps the 1% will be in for a similar awakening.
Photo Credits: Valley Forge – archives.com; Zuccotti Park – Reuters