Why I Haven't 'Occupied' Wall Street (Yet)
1 year ago
Are Black folks who stay home being complacent or simply cautious?
I live in Brooklyn, less than an hour away from Zuccotti Park via the same Uptown-bound 'A' train that Duke Ellington sang about (by the way, if the Duke knew about how crappy the service was now, he'd probably encourage us to occupy the Metropolitan Transit Association). I have been working from home for the better part of a year, and while that is ending in a few short days, I've had more flexibility than the average New Yorker since the two-month long Occupy Wall Street movement began. I have student loan debt that keeps me up at night and I will not see this fact end for many years. Despite this, I haven't made my way to the protest.
The images of the 'occupations' taking place across the country have featured predominately young, White protestors standing up against the abuse of banks, large corporations and the US government that have hindered the ability of the average American to earn a decent wage, afford sizable student and home loans and have access to health care. Some have asked why aren't there more African-American faces in those crowds, considering that the vast majority of us are part of the much touted "99%". While I can't speak for all of the brothers and sisters who've stayed home (or at work) instead of occupying, I would imagine that my own hesitation about joining the movement is one that resounds with many of them.
By the time I was fully aware of OWS, the New York Police Department had already began senselessly beating on protestors and arresting folks who (by most accounts) were behaving peaceably. Deputy Inspector Jonny Cardona alone has been accused of punching a protestor in the face as the man walked away from him AND grabbing a female protestor by the neck, forcing her to the ground and then kicking her. Another officer, Inspector Anthony Bologna, was observed spraying a group of women in the face with pepper spray, despite the fact that they were not doing anything that required restraint (it was later revealed that he has a history of protestor abuse complaints). A man who was lying down was dragged through the street by officers. All of these incidents, which are only but a few of the many reported cases of police abuse during OWS to date, were caught on camera. They have something else in common: all of the victims were White.