The Wall Street protests have entered a new phase, finally beginning to gain mainstream media recognition (though still faulty and limited), while growing and spreading across the nation.
The Daily Kos broke the story that the New York Transport Workers Union has voted to join the Wall Street protests currently proceeding in New York City. The entrance of a large organized body in support of the protest firmly takes the movement out of the “few wild eyed crazies” category that some media have attempted to portray and landed it firmly in the significant movement to watched column. Already, Airline Pilots have shown up to support the protests, in full uniform. This adds not just bodies (necessary for any popular movement) but respectability that will be difficult, if not impossible to ignore.
The spread of the movement across the nation was covered last night by Keith Olberman listing on a US map more than a dozen cities in which supporting protests are being organized, including Saint Louis Mo. Keith was one of the first media figures to note the dearth of coverage of the events and speculate what media reaction would have been had a mainstream media outlet like Fox News and billionaire supporters like the Koch brothers been supporting the effort. As it is, the now infamous macing of several female protesters who were fenced in and seemed to pose no apparent threat to police or anyone else, forced coverage of the events.
If you follow the “macing” link in the previous paragraph, you will note that the ABC headline reads “Occupy Wall Street Protests Turn Violent” failing to note that it was the police who turned violent, not the protesters. Despite many accusations by police, many videos are surfacing showing authorities acting in a heavy handed manner but few to none of protesters getting violent. This coverage of the events is to be expected given the nature of America’s mainstream media corporations today.
Major media have been stating that the message of the protesters is “unclear” or “confused.” This is only true for those so insulated from the reality of the everyday person that they cannot understand popular resentment at the bankers and financiers of this nation who are directly responsible for the current economic downturn. Protesters have clearly stated that they are part of the 99% of America that did not gain anything from the Wall Street bailouts and has suffered disproportionately as a result. These are people who are disgusted by the corporate control of our Government through unlimited campaign spending which cannot be matched by ordinary citizens. The protesters realize that the best time to begin to exercise their rights of free speech to demand change, that will otherwise never materialize, is now.
Chris Hedges’ “Calling All Rebels” (video version) called for exactly the type of civil unrest that the Wall Street protesters are carrying out. Hedges went on to demonstrate approval for the action by participating and noting that “the power elites are very, very scared” of this movement and “do not want to see this grow.” Although the elites currently exercise disproportionate control of the levers of power, they are perfectly aware that a strong enough popular movement could unseat them, or at the very least upset normal operations that they rely upon. Mr. Hedges wrote in “The Death of the Liberal Class” that “professional liberals” have sold out by accepting high paying jobs in academia, journalism, etc., and acquiesced on many of the topics that used to define liberalism. This only leaves the possibility for leadership of a new liberal social justice movement to come from ordinary people willing to take risks, even if that is because they have so little to lose.
In St. Louis, the protest is being called “Occupy Saint Louis” and will begin on October 1st at Soldier’s Memorial Plaza in downtown St. Louis. Those in other parts of the nation should go to http://occupytogether.org to find a local protest or organize one of your own. The St. Louis Facebook page for Occupy Saint Louis is another important method of getting in touch with those organizing and participating in the movement. Further support can be shown by calling local media outlets to demand evenhanded coverage of events that are important to local citizens. If people say they want to see it – then there is a better chance that they will. Of course the biggest thing that anyone can do is show up to the event! It is unfortunate but true that, a large part of people’s impressions of the event will be based upon how many people are there.
Full Disclosure: The author, Mike Davis is a local community organizer who will be participating in the Occupy Saint Louis event.