What is undeniable, however, is the sense of community in the park. There’s a makeshift library filled with books ranging on topics from education to spirituality, food is shared by all staying there, and there are even little “neighborhoods” among the tents.
The first people I met affectionately refer to their grouping as “Southeast.” It’s predominately black and male. Lando – most occupiers won’t disclose their last names – walked to the district from Zuccotti Park after it was shutdown. “The walk was about educating people. People don’t really understand what’s going on in America right now. The social structure is falling apart. There are homeless people sleeping in front of the Whitehouse.”
The amount of people of color there was surprising, considering that there has been story after story about the lack of black people that participate in Occupy. Jason, a Howard University School of Business alum, doesn’t think enough African Americans are involved. “There aren’t enough black people in the cause,” he said. “And it’s sad because we can be so effective.”
Antonio, who works for a homeless shelter in the city, believes there needs to be more focus on domestic problems. “You can’t try to solve issues in other countries and not take care of home,” he said.
Two young men, Ian and John, walked into the park looking like they should be working on Wall Street rather than occupying it. Though they are currently employed with lobbying firms, they expressed similar frustrations with the way the government is run. “I think we should close It’s cold at McPherson Square. The wind bites and pulls leaves off the trees, but Occupy DC has not left its post. The gathering set up on I and 15th is just of the many Occupy movements all over the world. They range everywhere from its birthplace in New York, to Albuquerque, to London. Encampments have popped up in Gexto, Spain; Islamabad; and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. There have even been outbreaks of violence between police and protestors at the Oakland and Los Angeles sites. And though it’s caught on nationwide, people still aren’t sure of the movement’s ultimate goal.
the corporate loop holes, extend the payroll tax, and pay for it with a 3% tax on the rich,” Ian said. “The tax cuts for the rich cost more than both the wars combined. It makes no sense at all to extend them.” But he’s not completely ready to join the Occupy movement. “I’m looking to get involved, but I’m looking for a jumping off point,” he said. John agreed, “We’re just looking for some cohesion.”
They aren’t the only ones waiting for the right moment to get involved. Jiri, a husband and father, needs to know the risk will be worth it. “It just needs to be focused,” he said. “I have a wife and kids. You can be proud of daddy – that he’s a part of this movement. But food supersedes that.”
And that’s something that’s often lost in the media shuffle: the humanity of those involved. Occupy is a place made up of individuals. People laugh and joke with one another, the younger men ride around on their bikes and scooters, some of them tease me about my rabbit earrings (“It looks like you have little Pikachus in your ears…”); a game of chess is .
“Do I feel I’ve made a difference?” Antonio asks himself, as that November wind blows an American flag perched on a tent. “I do, simply through the people that I’ve met.”