After marching around the center of New Haven, demonstrators allied with the national “Occupy Wall Street” movement gathered on the Green to form a self-governing colony by chanting and singing—and wiggling their fingers in the air.
Finger-wiggling, a sign of agreement, was one of a handful of gestures used by participants at Occupy New Haven, a local branch of the free-form protest movement that is spreading widely from its genesis at Occupy Wall Street in New York City.
The phenomenon is harnessing an outpouring of public sentiment against wealth inequality, corporate power in politics, and economic bailouts for big banks.
The movement took root in New Haven Saturday via the demonstrators who marched around the Green before gathering to establish an “occupation” of indefinite length. Using hand gestures and a crowd-sourced amplification technique of shouting in unison, the protestors held a “general assembly.”
They announced the establishment of 13 different committees, including panels covering sanitation, “direct action,” and sustainability. The occupiers decided to hold at least two assemblies per week, and set up tents and systems for dispersing food and warm clothes to participants.
They were the actions of people who intend to set up camp for quite some time. Todd Sanders, a 20-year-old sophomore at Southern Connecticut State University who helped lead the general assembly, said he plans to occupy the Green for as long as he can. Although he has an apartment in town, he’ll be spending his nights in one of the half-dozen tents pitched under trees in the upper Green, near the corner of Elm and College streets.
Saturday night an estimated 200 or so people were settling in for the first night’s sleep. Police reported no problems.
New Haven’s occupation kicked off at noon with a large march around the Green. Hundreds of all ages turned out for the occasion, sporting signs like “We Are The 99%,” referring to the majority of people not among the wealthiest 1 percent of the population.
Just past noon, they began to march. Starting at the corner of Elm and College, marchers filled the sidewalk and headed east. The march was so big that as the head of the procession reached Elm and Church, people were just beginning to take up the rear two blocks away.
Mayoral candidate Jeffrey Kerekes and his dog joined the march.
The march headed south, in front of City Hall, then took a right. At the corner of Temple and Chapel, marchers passed hot dog vendor Mike Hardin, who said he hoped to sell some cold drinks.
“Ice cold Snapple!” shouted a marcher.
“Snapple’s not a good company, though. They’re very right-wing!” countered another.
“But it tastes good,” the first marcher replied.
The march took another right and went up one side of Temple and down the other. The chants were pointed: “Banks got bailed out! We got sold out!”
When the protesters got back to the corner of Elm and Church, they took a second, smaller lap, and the chants morphed into songs, led in part by Pastor Scott Marks (at right in photo).
“Nice day for a walk,” said Lt. Rebecca Sweeney, downtown’s top cop, who was heading up a detail of 11 cops assigned to the event.
As the march wound its way back towards the starting point, it was joined by a small counter-protest of about a dozen young Republicans. “What do we want? We don’t know! When do we want it? Whenever!” they chanted, mocking the amorphous nature of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
“A protest without a point is an aimless mob,” said Yale student Michael Knowles (at left in photo), the group’s leader. He said the counter-protesters are all college Republicans from Fairfield, Quinnipiac and Yale universities. The counter-protest was an attempt to highlight the “incoherence” of the Occupy Wall Street movement, he said, which “doesn’t do anything to effect change.”
Marchers gathered around a park bench, near a handful of tents. Protest “facilitators” introduced the concept of a “mic check,” in which the crowd echoes short statements by a speaker—sort of crowd-sourced public-address system.
As they waited for a “general assembly” to begin, Shamayah Grant said she had come out because “I have a child to take care of and I need health care and I don’t think I should have to pay a lot for it.” She held her 8-month-old daughter, Sa’Rye, in her arms.
Facilitators stood on a bench and kicked off the general assembly with an explanation of hand signals, followed by general announcements, interrupted once or twice by a man drinking a can of Natural Light. “You’re on my bench! I sleep on that bench every night!”
Announcements were followed by “Proposals,” of which there was only one: that a general assembly be held every Sunday and Wednesday.
“Temperature check!” called out Sanders, to gauge the crowd’s opinion on the proposal. Hundreds of waggling fingers went up in the air.
Despite the obviously political nature of the event, most of the general assembly was devoted to matters of logistics and the sharing of information. It was only during the “Soapbox” portion of the event that ideologies emerged. One man took the bench to call for an end to all political lobbying, corporate tax breaks, political action committees, and political donations. Pastor Marks tied the movement to the recent sweep of aldermanic elections by union-backed candidates. A man decried outsized CEO salaries; others called for people to pull their savings out of large banks and put them in credit unions.
As the meeting broke up, facilitator Martina Crouch announced the formation of 13 committees covering everything from sanitation to outreach to medical needs and food.
At the “Comfort” station, clothing donations were already accumulating. They were later put into plastic bags and placed under a canopy donated by the Devil’s Gear bike shop.
Chabaso Bakery donated boxes of bread.
The hundreds of people eventually filtered away, leaving the occupiers who plan to spend the night and the coming days operating as a self-governing outpost on the Green.
The hive mind comes to New Haven. How completely annoying and trite.
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on October 15, 2011 9:50pm
A protest without a point is an aimless mob,” said Yale student Michael Knowles (at left in photo), the group’s leader. He said the counter-protesters are all college Republicans from Fairfield, Quinnipiac and Yale universities. The counter-protest was an attempt to highlight the “incoherence” of the Occupy Wall Street movement, he said, which “doesn’t do anything to effect change.”
Hey Micheal you also forgot to put this on your sign.
How The Bush Family Made Its Fortune From The Nazis The Dutch Connection
posted by: The decline of America on October 15, 2011 10:04pm
“I have a child to take care of and I need health care and I don’t think I should have to pay a lot for it.”
Umm, who then should make up the cost difference?
Never mind, I know the answer.
posted by: Mitchell Young on October 15, 2011 10:46pm
There are 3.5 million people in Ct .
From reports 1000 or so turned out in NH and Ht.
Did everyone go to NYC or is there just no grass roots support in CT for the 0ccupy Movement.
Looking at the worldwide numbers maybe less than 50,000 turned out today.
There are six billion people on earth. It doesn’t seem like it has really earned the level of mass media coverage yet. Should certainly not be compared to the Arab spring.
posted by: robn on October 15, 2011 10:50pm
Yuk I deeply regret having armed the young Republicans with “what do we want, I don’t know…” joke. Many apologies to libertarians and progressives.
posted by: Bill Saunders on October 16, 2011 1:46am
When this action goes all ‘town and gown’, I will through some support into the ring.
posted by: The Joker on October 16, 2011 7:05am
Hats off to the Young Republicans. And to the girl who thinks health care is an American right, Don’t have children you can’t pay for! Nothing is for free. That coverage comes from my tax money and every other working person.
America is falling apart NOT because people have become lazy, BUT because laziness is now acceptable. It use to be that proud people were embarassed to get a government hand out when they were down. Now its a generational way of life.
God bless America. I pray something happens to stop this trend.
posted by: Neil on October 16, 2011 7:49am
I see at least one American flag. What a shocker. Don’t see too many of those at other protests. Usually the flag is being trampled on or soiled. At one gathering rally goers sang “F the USA.” So how are we to take these people seriously and believe they are anything other than lefty or Democrat apparatchiks?
posted by: DMS on October 16, 2011 7:57am
A “detail of 11 cops”? I saw way more than 11 cops. Not complaining, just saying.
posted by: Joe Hill on October 16, 2011 10:54am
@The Joker and the Decline of America. Very few people, no matter how productive, can afford to pay out of pocket for health care—particularly for a serious illness. It has nothing to do with laziness. How could anyone afford to be a teacher, for example, if there wasn’t health insurance bases on shared costs among both the sick and the elderly? Do you want everyone to be an investment banker? Where will the next investment bankers come from if they can’t get an education?
The most competitive economies have an extensive social welfare system. Finland is normally ranked ahead of us in competitiveness, and has a cradle to grave welfare system.
The income and wealth inequalities in our country are out of control and are contributing to our dysfunctional economy.
Nick Kristof, in today’s NY Times, has a good summary of the facts underlying the Occupy movement’s motivation.
“According to the C.I.A.’s own ranking of countries by income inequality, the United States is more unequal a society than either Tunisia or Egypt.
“Three factoids underscore that inequality:
“¶The 400 wealthiest Americans have a greater combined net worth than the bottom 150 million Americans.
“¶The top 1 percent of Americans possess more wealth than the entire bottom 90 percent.
“¶In the Bush expansion from 2002 to 2007, 65 percent of economic gains went to the richest 1 percent.”
The Republicans scream about class warfare, but this masks their, and fellow-traveling Democrats, complicity in this upward redistribution of wealth.
Kristof notes that it’s not just a matter of the unfairness of income inequality, but that the system is a drag on economic growth:
“Economists used to believe that we had to hold our noses and put up with high inequality as the price of robust growth. But more recent research suggests the opposite: inequality not only stinks, but also damages economies.
“In his important new book, ‘The Darwin Economy’, Robert H. Frank of Cornell University cites a study showing that among 65 industrial nations, the more unequal ones experience slower growth on average. Likewise, individual countries grow more rapidly in periods when incomes are more equal, and slow down when incomes are skewed.
“That’s certainly true of the United States. We enjoyed considerable equality from the 1940s through the 1970s, and growth was strong. Since then inequality has surged, and growth has slowed.”
The sheep are not the “hive mind” of the Occupy people, but the hoodwinked believers who buy the line that unrestrained, unregulated capitalism is good for capitalism.
This country is embarrassing. Non-belief in science, callous attitudes about human suffering—all in the brainwashed assumption that what’s good for a hedge fund manager is good for teachers, fire fighters, and janitors.
After all, in an unrestrained system, who will be able to afford to put out a fire at the hedge fund manager’s mansion?
Elizabeth Warren put it well: “There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody.You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”
posted by: HewNaven?? on October 16, 2011 10:56am
“Ice cold Snapple!” shouted a marcher.
“Snapple’s not a good company, though. They’re very right-wing!” countered another.
“But it tastes good,” the first marcher replied.
Here’s the hard truth. The world is finally beginning to take note of one very serious problem: greedy, multinational corporations who don’t care about your local community. IMO, you have only two options:
1. IF you think it “tastes good” learn how to make your own.
2. OR, Find a local source that makes a product that “tastes good” too.
Put your money where your mouth is. We ALL need to remove our mouths from the sweaty teet of corporate greed and start taking action LOCALLY.
posted by: Stephen Harris on October 16, 2011 12:04pm
Lots of vitriol here so far. It seems a lot people don’t understand how much Wall St. and large corporations have captured the political process and the economy solely for their own gain.
Here are some quotes from Adam Smith for the gullible young republicans to ponder.
“Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.” Book V, The Wealth of Nations.
“All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.” Book III, Chapter IV, The Wealth of Nations.
posted by: HhE on October 16, 2011 1:30pm
I’m glad my friend Lt Sweeney is keeping her good sense of humor.
Now on to health care.
Miss from our American style, highly polarised debate is a meaningful discussion on options, benefits and costs. American style health care is amazing; amazingly expensive, and amazingly good for those who can afford it. The Scandinavian system, which has a very high standard of care, has a very high tax load that goes with it. This has a significant effect on their standards of living and the ability of anyone to move up economically. The Canadian system is NOT 3rd world health care, but it is not American either. No one is going to welcome you at the hospital, and get you where you need to go. When we have a machine in every room, they will have it on every floor. Third world health care is something else altogether.
Health care is not a right. It does not survive the desert island test. The health care one would have on a desert island is one’s training (or lack there of) and any medical kit that happens to be on hand. One has a right not to be denied health care because of skin color, just as there no one else on the island to stop you from giving yourself first aid.
Maybe the best option for our society is to provide a very basic health care to everyone as a tax payer provided safety net, and reserve the really good, resource intensive health care for those who can afford it.
posted by: Cartman on October 16, 2011 4:09pm
1000’s? Why not say millions? Or QUADRILLIONS, if your gonna lie. LIE BIG
posted by: Truth Avenger on October 16, 2011 4:34pm
@ Neil- Maybe you did not see American flags because the protests are not about Flag Day and the event is not sponsored by the Tea Party, or Republicans - those that have co-opted and distorted the values represented by the American Flag. Neil, that anecdotal fantasy about the Flag being trampled and soiled must be a flashback to some other era. The Occupy Movement is about Americans from all walks of life and socioeconomic backgrounds standing up for American values in an American tradition. Unlike Tea party members, some of whom spat upon members of Congress, or carry racist and anti- government signage, or bring guns to the rallies, the Occupy Movement protesters are demonstrating peacefully as they point out the degradation of American economic viability due to Wall Street manipulations,the growing disparities between rich and poor, and the lack of economic justice that the right generally supports. Righties screwed up the economy over 8 years and it is left to the Dem “apparatchiks” as you call them, to straighten the mess out. Only a Democrat in recent times, Bill Clinton, balanced the budget and grew a safety-net surplus - one that was quickly squandered by George W. Bush with his tax breaks for the wealthy. GOP patron saint Ronald Reagan, tripled the deficit during his tenure. So how do we take the Republican belly-aching over a true grass-roots, populist uprising seriously?
posted by: walt on October 16, 2011 6:33pm
You know, it’s the right way to feel, it’s just a shame that the majority of the folks i’ve seen in the media coverage are so, well, unlikable. I just don’t like them, and I’m kind of sad that i’m not seeing people like my mom who was laid off at 59 by a large corporation, or more black people who are often getting screwed or more blue collar workers. The snarky hipsters just don’t inspire me.
posted by: cedarhillresident on October 16, 2011 6:42pm
I went. I marched. Each person was there for what they believed. I went become I believe change starts at home. Our local government is out of control and people in my city are being forced out by a chosen few making, very bad choices for the residents that live here. That is why I was there. Some came because of the war and the desire for peace. Some came because of the lack of jobs and affordability in this city. Even the tea partiers that showed up had similar issue even though they do not see it that way (they are the 99% too) each had their own personal reasons ....but what do all their reasons boil down to. Corporate greed…. all of our individual issues are in the end because of corporate greed and corruption of government.
What ever you think of this protest you have to give all these folks a hand for at least being brave enough to say it out loud and put their faces to it.
Although I do think that civil disobedience and marching places without asking the PD if they can would make it a little more credible. But I get why they are.
But I also understand the nay sayers points. But I figure, go there see what they are saying talk to them and let them know your thoughts and ideas. Ya never know unless you try.
posted by: cedarhillresident on October 16, 2011 6:50pm
ohh and one more thing. 50,000 not a correct number on people that have participated. Remember most of the 99% have to go to work and some even have more than 1 job. You need to do a number on how many people have come to the protest over the duration. I went yesterday but my life does not allow me to stay or go alot. But each person that comes, even if it is for an hour is part of the number and that far exceeds the 50,000 number over the past month and months to come. And the growing protests around the world are totally amazing me.
posted by: Steve Bradley on October 16, 2011 7:50pm
Bravo! for those who turned out to ‘Occupy New Haven’ on the Green. Now they should single out a bank to protest like Bank of America. And will someone explain to me as if I were a six-year old how a contingent of Yale Republicans find it useful to protest the ‘right’ of others to protest? So much for Yale’s enlightened few.
Decline of America Do you know what health care used to cost, as a percentage of ones income? Guess what? Someone got screwed.
Ms Rand Really? You invoke Ayn Rand, hypocrite, liar, and miserable human being? Ayn Rand who would have screamed “Let him die!” along with that crowd of nutbags?
Wow. I have nothing more to say.
posted by: Hebee on October 17, 2011 6:26am
There are a lot of College Students at the Wall Street Protests. To assure that we all practice what we preach, I propose that all of the straight A College Students (AKA: future rich people) accept Cs from now on. They can SHARE those “EXTRA” two GPA points with an unmotivated and less hard working fellow student. Those other students experienced a difficult childhood and have a darn good excuse for not working as hard as the Straight A Students.
posted by: pammsw on October 17, 2011 9:01am
Can’t wait til these Young Republicans finish college with their fancy degrees that aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. They will jump ship as soon as those college loans are due and they are part of the unemployed.
posted by: To pammsw on October 17, 2011 9:54am
I’m a Republican, recently graduated with a Bachelor’s from UNH and my student loans come due next month. But I did this CRAZY thing, I got a job when I was in school and saved money. Then, when I graduated, I got a full time job, probably because I got a degree in something that people actually want to hire you for. And with those jobs, I get paid money. With that money, I can pay the loans.
Its almost like this thing I read about in a history book somewhere, I think they called it “capitalism” though I should check that. You don’t see too much of that anymore though.
posted by: To To pammsw on October 17, 2011 11:16am
Everything that you’ve rattled off in your post- been there done that. Also college educated and fortunate to never have experienced unemployment personally, also recently started my own business. However, the reality is that there aren’t enough jobs for everyone who wants one. The difference between you and I is that I’m not oblivious to the plight of others. And I haven’t been brainwashed by mass media to think that the Occupy movement is just a bunch of low life hippies wanting freebies. Learn how to empathize with the others. They don’t teach that in college.
posted by: Truth Avenger on October 17, 2011 11:35am
@ Pammsw: How many of the 750,000 Americans that were losing their jobs monthly toward the end of the Bush administration do you think did everything wrong? Your example of personal success through hard work is laudable; that you think everyone else is a slacker, is a gross misread of the facts. People cannot save or pay their bills, unless they have income coming in…if you think your job is recession-proof-think again. Millions of Americans are taking jobs for which they are overqualified- simply because the jobs they once had are no longer there. Thanks to Wall Street Bundlers of toxic and junk assets, and their myriad selfish schemes, national and individual wealth was stripped, and stripped again when these same companies were bailed out by the US taxpayer. While everything is going along swimmingly for you,millions of Americans are struggling due to NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN. A more reasonable response from you might be, “There but for the grace of G-d, go I.”
posted by: To pammsw on October 17, 2011 12:45pm
I was attempting to disprove a generalization made by “pammsw” that all of the recently graduated Republicans would be jobless and realizing their degrees are worth nothing.
I was NOT claiming that EVERYONE who is protesting is an aimless hippie looking for access to the government teat, though I think its fairly clear that some in this movement are. There are some individuals with legitimate grievances and even some interesting ideas. But, as often happens in large groups, the intelligent ideas get drowned out by the popular ones, or the union/media funded ones, etc. Shame on them for letting their forum be hijacked by bored college kids and radical whackjobs, but don’t expect me to sympathize.
My parents are hurting financially, but guess what they’re doing, spending less and working more. If only our government would follow such a simple example.
posted by: get a J O B on October 17, 2011 12:50pm
I have a child to take care of and I need health care and I don’t think I should have to pay a lot for it.” This is the real problem!!!! People like Shamayah Grant. If you can not afford to have kids, DON’T. I work not 1 but 2 jobs and I bet you don’t work at all. I have to pay for YOUR bastard child who is gonna be the next generation of people with their hands out! Go get a job…go get 2 jobs I bet one of them will offer health insurance. Go work at McDonalds or Burger King, they have great benefits!
posted by: To Truth Avenger on October 17, 2011 12:57pm
Please reread my post. I am a supporter of the Occupy Movement… Pammsw
posted by: Truth Avenger on October 17, 2011 2:59pm
@ Pammsw: Yes indeed- it’s a little confusing with some people posting as themselves and some “posting to.” Comments were intended for the person that was posting to you. Thanks for fighting the good fight…
@ “Get a Job”...Get some soap for that mouth! You have no right to call another person’s child “bastard” - Moreover Ms. Grant is right. Health Care should not cost and arm-and-a-leg, so to speak. Millions are left bankrupt by a vicious and calloused for-profit system that is rigged for the benefit of the insurance companies and not for patients. 42 million Americans or more, have no insurance. It is a shameful that the US ranks 37th or lower in health care ratings globally. The “I got mine-everyone else be damned” mindset you display is actually “the problem.”
posted by: HhE on October 17, 2011 11:00pm
Hebee, I much the same idea yesterday afternoon; socialist grades. Take all the points/grades earned, and divide them up equally. Could be a good deal for slackers and those out of their depths. I wonder how long the motivated students would stay motivated? I once worked as a Para in a classroom where the Teacher hated grading, so he gave (and I think in this case, “gave” is a good choice of words) everyone a B. So the girl who really worked hard got the same grade as the students who hardly tried at all. Guess how much work got done the second half of the semester? It is easy to be a socialist when at university. Even I was a bit of one back then.
What helps me get in touch with my inner rage even more than socialism, is how one one got perp walked after the whole AIG et. al. mess. I fail to see how this works politically or morally.
If a bunch of people, hanging out on The Green, enjoying this beautiful weather actually succeeds in making this a better world, then more power to you. I hope everyone will continue to ignore the very bad advise that if one does not get arrested, one is not properly protesting. Getting dragged off in handcuffs just makes one look stupid.
That some of the protesters are selfish and silly, while others are really committed to the greater good, ought not come as a surprise. Did you know that some Republicans are sensible and caring? Not all of them are whack jobs.
posted by: A.F. on October 17, 2011 11:25pm
posted by: Get a J O B on October 18, 2011 8:39am
@ Truth Avenger: ... I do agree that health care should be affordable. I had to file bankruptcy when I was in my very early 20’s due to a hospital bill that was over 75,000.00 but I still worked hard to stay above water and better myself. I also believe that if you are able to work you should find a job. There are temp agencies, there are help wanted signs in windows and there are job fairs. These jobs may not be the best jobs but they will put money in your pocket and they will help stimulate the economy. Should corporate greed be addressed…yes should politicians be able to “buy” their way into office..NO. Should people get out there and pound the pavement the old fashioned way and look for work…YES. Should the working middle to lower class, people like me have to pay over a quarter of my weekly pay out in taxes to support a large group of people with their hands out…NO! Trust me I believe in things being fair and I believe in fighting for what is right but I also believe that people as a whole need a reality check. Laziness has become acceptable, living off the system has become acceptable. Why? Oh wait I know why…because it is the easy way out!
posted by: shanay dolphin on October 18, 2011 10:02am
I came downtown yesterday with my class from cooperative arts, and we walked around seeing what this Occupation was about and i feel that it is for a good cause. the most important thing i liked was that they are trying to help the homeless downtown, giving them blankets when they are just laying on the bench cold all night, they have been giving out food for them, clothes for women children an men. i just wanted to say that i am proud at what their doing and what their trying to do and separating the 99% from the 1%
posted by: Jill the Pill on October 18, 2011 9:53pm
I’m tired of hearing, “if you can’t afford children, don’t have them.” Often, people make mistakes or have children when they could afford them, but the life changes—divorce, illness, job loss, whatever.
It doesn’t matter. The child is here and should have the things children need: food, safety, medicine, education, etc. Blaming the parent for the child’s existence is just a way of deflecting attention from the implication that a real child should go without.
This is the richest state in the richest country in the world. There are Connecticut residents who have enough money to buy heated driveways. Don’t you think we could maybe find the funds to help with something important like healthcare?
posted by: The99pct. on October 20, 2011 8:32am
JILL THE PILL,
YES! There is money to be found under those heated driveways. We parents are the many - and you heated driveway owners are the few. We will FORCE you to take care of our children! And then we will TAX you until you give in and create jobs for us! We are the 99pct!