Scenes from Occupy Baltimore

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We ventured downtown yesterday to ask Occupy Baltimore protestors how they’re faring three weeks in. At McKeldin Square, at Pratt and Light, we met plenty of nice, idealistic young people — camping temporarily on a concrete landscape dotted with colorful tents and food stations, the scene decked with makeshift signs. A band was setting up, too. It’s creative democracy at work.

Elise

Why have you come to Occupy Baltimore?

For our generation. For those of us who have graduated from college and can’t find a job. We can’t pay our student loans back. We live with our parents. My mom is living paycheck to paycheck. We just need a voice.

 Do you have a job?

I have been cut back to two days a week at an organic grocery store. So yes, sorta.

Do you sleep here? Is it safe at night?

You should come back tonight! That’s when all the people who make an honest living during the day show up. The teachers, coaches, bus drivers, taxi owners etc. who all work but can’t pay their bills. And it is safe. We have a buddy system.

Leo

Where do you work?

I write copy for websites.

What brings you to Occupy Baltimore?

A girl named Ashley and social injustice.

Are you accomplishing anything?

Well, this protest has brought people together who would otherwise be isolated. Together they are creating concrete forms of social change.

Such as?

The production and distribution of food. Food is being donated. People are learning how to cook here and feed people in an effective way. Basic needs are being met. Society induces people to compete and not cooperate with each other. We are trying to change that here. 

So it’s not all about finding jobs or making money but working together to make a difference in society?  Not the high unemployment rate or the imbalance of salaries in this country?

Wall Street is out of control. They are “gaming the system” of money and law to get more for themselves and corporations as opposed to using the system to benefit the needs of others and their community.

Will you go to New York?

Maybe on my way home to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving. I’d like to see it. But I really like it here in Baltimore.

In in email to BFB editors this morning, here’s what our talented photographer, Lee Kriel, had to add about Occupy Baltimore: “The people we met were inspiring and bright.  Elise was adorable and articulate.  Vulnerable and kind.  I worry about her.  She lives with her mom and her grandfather.  Her mom works full time for a company she has worked for for 20 years but she is in debt.  Her mother also cares for Elise’s grandfather.  Stuck in the middle.

And Leo…such a bright young man.  Beautiful words flowed from his mouth.  Seriously. (He asked if the Fishbowl was hiring!)   I smiled at the end when we told Leo we were there for the SartorialBaltimorial.  He quickly took a look down at what he was wearing and smiled and said, “Really?” He had a great story about his coat.  A teacher who comes in the evening, offered to take all of Leo’s clothes home to wash and dry after the rain.  But Leo declined because he thought it was too much of an imposition.  So the teacher gave him the coat off his back.”

 

 

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3 COMMENTS

  1. I am curious why Ms. Brown had to use the word “ventured” downtown. It sounds like she went to a foreign country. Maybe she needs to spend more time in the city so it does not feel like such a hike to get there.

    Also – the article makes the occupation sound too much like some kind of idealistic party-scene. Unemployed people who are fed up are angry, despondent, frustrated — so enough with the “adorable” perky descriptions. Creative democracy is serious, hard work and it is patronizing to make the activists who have such personal struggles, debt and hardships sound like there are having fun in the Inner Harbor playground.

  2. Some of the events in a previous period of protest were also flavored by some up-beat vibes – – almost a “party” atmosphere; but in retrospect, I think we were sort of “whistling past the graveyard” with that attitude. It was a bit scary, to accost “the establishment” with nothing but a smile and some flowers, and expect to change the world. At least these folks are not (yet) being tear-gassed, bloodied with billy clubs, or (a la Kent State) shot down by the Guard. So far, it is more Tea Party Left than Chicago, more of social protest and ‘petition the government with their grievances’ than a riot by either side. So far…
    The “Occupy…” crowds have given voice to the discontent of, not a generation, but a social segment. For some time now, the Rushies have been hooting how so much of the tax burden is paid by 1% of the populace -the rich 1%. Now we get to hear from the other side of the coin: those who cannot even get on to the tax collector’s radar. The disparity between the multi-millionaires who take home in a week more than most wage-earners see in a year, and that 99% who Cain wants to hit with a 9% sales tax is a chasm that would make J.P. Morgan blush. No wonder they are mad as hell and not going to take it any more!

  3. @Anonymous

    Fair enough.

    We mean no disrespect to the protestors at Occupy and know that the job of protesting takes commitment and hard work. But I have to take the hit for Ms. Brown — who lives in the city BTW — because “ventured” is a word that was added in editing.

    Thank you for your comment.

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