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Photo Credit:David Freidd

The sprawl of tents around Los Angeles’ City Hall is a tumultuous scene that emits an odd smell of body odor and pine cones. Walking through the protest, there is a lot that catches the eye: Airbrush artists peddling revolutionary art, Native Americans blessing a newly-wed couple, and a slew of hammocks perched in the strangest of places. The confusion of the campsite and the vast variety of slogans and messages led me to a couple of questions: Who are these people, and do they matter to me?

Photo Credit:David Freid

The mix of protestors at the scene ranges from wandering freeloaders to lawyers and professors who are sick of the status quo; all camping out under the banner of the “99%”, a label that throws protestors from very different walks of life together. After investigating the scene myself, I realized that the overshadowed rational thinkers of the Occupy movement deserve a great deal more attention than we’ve been giving them. While the campground at Occupy LA is an excitingly quirky one, it’s not hard to see that a number of people are either complaining, or taking advantage of free camping. I found that at the heart of the movement, however, are informed and hopeful people who really want to change the way the American Government operates, and those people need our help.

 

Slowly declining morals within our government and our economy affect every one of us, in some form or another. It is a problem that the “Occupy” movement aims to address, not through erratic complaints and shoddy cardboard signs, but instead through raising awareness. The people who make up the driving force behind the protests are trying to reach interested and politically active students and convince them that the wrongdoing that slips past the American public does not have to continue hurting our government and our economy. We all know that CMC’ers are very well-informed and have a certain penchant for political discussion, so why is it that students like us are missing from the movement? The fact is there are protestors with concrete and legitimate motives who need our help, and we should not be deterred by the crackpot image that some media sources purvey.

HyperVocal published an article on the Occupy protests investigating exactly who the protestors were. Regarding the media reaction to the protestors, it stated: “They’ve been labeled hippies, lefties, unpatriotic bums, STD spreaders, and angry, unemployed college grads. Those stereotypes are meant to brush off the seriousness of the protests.” A study conducted by business intelligence analyst Harrison Schultz and Professor Hector R. Cordero-Guzman from Baruch College, however, has shown that 70% of Occupy protestors identify themselves as Independents, 47% of them hold full time jobs, and 61% of them attended college. The movement then is not a strictly left-winged one, and while half of the protestors are unemployed, there are plenty of educated individuals supporting the cause. Students like us should not be deterred from participating because we think the movement is an extremist one, when in fact, it is not.

I spoke to one protestor who said, “People need to just see what we’re about. People need to put down their cell phones and open their eyes.” The man in question refused to disclose his name, but said he had been hitchhiking for 3 months before camping at Occupy LA for the past three weeks. According to this man, the movement does not need another diluted message or more people with cardboard signs – it needs numbers. That way, cynics and supporters alike, will realize that something needs to change. The movement needs more bodies to gain momentum, but where will they come from?

Emily, a student at the University of Southern California, was sitting in a drum circle wearing a red and gold Trojans sweater. She’d come to the protests with a friend, but said that it would be impractical for her to try and spend the night. According to Emily and a few protestors who served as staff at the University of Southern California, action is not being taken on behalf of the school as a whole to participate in the protests. While it is rumored that some buses of students had been organized to travel to the protests together, none of the occupants said they’d seen them or any other schools represented in great numbers. According to the same study by Professor Cordero-Guzman and Mr. Schultz, 45% of protestors are from the ages of 25 to 44, and 32% are over the age of 45. People under the age of 25, including college students, are the least represented demographic.

With the amalgam of messages of the Occupy movement and its negative portrayal by some major news sources, it is not hard to understand why intelligent people are shying away from camping out at City Hall. It takes a trip to the protests, however, to see that there are a number of people at the protests with defined goals and legitimate complaints, who simply lack the power to advance them. The problem is that college students – especially CMCers who have the potential to make a lot of noise – are not seeing that the Occupy movement is not only to placate people who want their tuition paid for or their homes returned, but also to encourage people who see a problem to go out and fix it. So my suggestion is, go. Even if you don’t have anything to say, go. Go with an open mind and try to understand what these people are all about, and even if you don’t agree, at least you will have learned something.

33 COMMENTS

  1. This article just reeks of disingenuousness. Lofty rhetoric aside, the Occupy movement isn’t about decrying moral degradation. It’s the manifestation of anti-consumerist, anti-capitalist AdBuster ramblings. Speaking from my own experience with the protests in Berkeley and Oakland, your calling the Occupy movement not solely leftist or Marxist is damned near ridiculous. It’s like saying the British National Party isn’t anti-immigrant because a portion of its membership is Pakistani. Astroturfed reddit posts and unemployed literature majors (“activists”) do not an intellectually defensible argument make. 

    • “Ridiculous” is your claim that calling for less inequality is anti-capitalist.  Taken the other way, does “true capitalism” envision complete inequality?  The Occupy movement, in my opinion, does well to draw attention to the fact that inequality in the US is approaching Banana Republic third world proportions, with the financial sector dramatically growing, while the vast poorly-represented majority sees little to negative amounts of opportunity and income growth.  Protesting drastic growth in inequality is far from “anti-capitalist”, just as something “pro-capitalist” would not require the highest possible levels of inequality.

      • The Occupy movement is borne from the mind of Kalle Lasn and his AdBusters ilk. He’s a self-admitted anti-capitalist culture-jammer. Research, Kev. 

        The Occupy movement doesn’t only preach for less inequality and wealth redistribution. What the writer of this piece failed to mention is that in the movement’s shrill cries for reform there is also widespread calling for the destruction of corporate personhood and the obliteration of the financial system (not to mention general antisemitism and other such dreck). 

        • The Occupy movement is much broader than Kalle Lasn and Adbusters, and the movement in no single voice calls for the “obliteration of the financial system”.  Thanks for the direction to do research, but I already have.   Aiming for less inequality is not equivalent to “wealth redistribution.”  It’s more of a call for social justice and a betterment of more than only the top 0.1% to 1% of society. 

          The reference to antisemitism is a red herring, similar to calling Tea Party racist.

        • If people want more economic equality, the United States is simply not the country they should live in. The American Dream has always been about making a fortune and being the 1%. If you want more equality, better public education, cheaper health care, etc., move to Northern Europe. There is a reason Scandinavian countries are qualified as “happier” by Forbes (http://www.forbes.com/2011/01/19/norway-denmark-finland-business-washington-world-happiest-countries_slide.html and http://www.forbes.com/2011/01/19/norway-denmark-finland-business-washington-world-happiest-countries.html).

          “On average, the Nordic countries outperform the Anglo-Saxon ones on most measures of economic performance. Poverty rates are much lower there, and national income per working-age population is on average higher. Unemployment rates are roughly the same in both groups, just slightly higher in the Nordic countries. The budget situation is stronger in the Nordic group, with larger surpluses as a share of GDP.” – http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-social-welfare-state

        • If people want more economic equality, the United States is simply not the country they should live in. The American Dream has always been about making a fortune and being the 1%. If you want more equality, better public education, cheaper health care, etc., move to Northern Europe. There is a reason Scandinavian countries are qualified as “happier” by Forbes (http://www.forbes.com/2011/01/19/norway-denmark-finland-business-washington-world-happiest-countries_slide.html and http://www.forbes.com/2011/01/19/norway-denmark-finland-business-washington-world-happiest-countries.html).

          “On average, the Nordic countries outperform the Anglo-Saxon ones on most measures of economic performance. Poverty rates are much lower there, and national income per working-age population is on average higher. Unemployment rates are roughly the same in both groups, just slightly higher in the Nordic countries. The budget situation is stronger in the Nordic group, with larger surpluses as a share of GDP.” – http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-social-welfare-state

        • Don’t tell me where to live.  That’s incredibly rude and dismissive.  No, let’s not try to better our society for the vast overwhelming majority.  You’re attitude is if you don’t like it, LEAVE.  That’s absurd.  Let’s turn it around for argument’s sake:  If you like inequality so much, you should move out of the US.  There’s drastically higher income inequality in Nigeria or Brazil.   Have fun there!

          And, the “American Dream” is not being in the 1%…  that’s a pipe dream. 

        • I like your use of “anti-capitalist” as a pejorative term.

          Sincerely,
          Still afraid of socialism

        • Actually, as a former Anonymous operative, I can tell you that it started there. 😉

          That being said, I’m in full agreement with you.

  2. Katya, I’ll tell you why the CMC student body doesn’t care
    about the Occupy LA protests. It’s because the protests don’t concern the vast
    majority of students living in our Claremont bubble. In fact, that one percent
    which the Occupy LA protesters are so fed up with makes up more like 10 percent
    of the student body at CMC. And the top 10% people with the highest incomes in
    America making from 100,000 + a year makes up probably over 80% of the students
    at club Claremont. So it’s no wonder people in Claremont don’t give a damn
    about the majority of Americans who are suffering. We don’t ever really
    interact with them. We live in wealthy neighborhoods, have rich friends, go to
    fancy schools and drive expensive cars. And because of this we are completely
    blinded to the realities of income inequality in America. But just drive your
    car (that might cost close to $22,000 -what 37 million American families live
    on in a year) ten minutes down to Pomona and see the real America. Take a
    second and think about our tuition, about 54,000 a year, more than the median
    household income in America. Now although many of us don’t pay full tuition,
    this alone indicates how privileged and removed from the realities of poverty
    in America CMC students are. So lets wake up Claremont! Lets feel compassion
    for the millions of Americans who don’t have the luxury that most of us have
    here at CMC.

    BTW I found this article about inequality in America to be
    shocking http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

  3. Here’s something which I find comical about the “Occupy” fad (ugh, I’m starting to cringe at the mere sight of that word)– the people who complain about being the 99% are in the 1%, globally-speaking. And aren’t they supposed to be universal-unitarian-globally-minded-Marxist-socialist-commies?? “Poverty” in America can include owning a video game system and a large, modern TV. And a car. The 99% can make comfortable over $100,000 a year. Sure, there are people wealthier than us. There are also entire nations poorer than the bottom 10% of our population. What are they complaining about? What are their tents in front of random municipal level government buildings accomplishing?
    Lastly, no matter “how good” some of their points may be, I cannot escape the feeling that I really just want to bang my head against a wall trying to comprehend and elucidate the inanity of the movement. “Occupy” is becoming a parody of itself, and some of the most serious “occupiers” make for the best comedy. I suggest any of ya’ll who think that they have any good points go to the next Occupy Claremont meeting (over at Pitzer, naturally). Then you’ll want to come join me in the head banging. Maybe if we bang hard enough, the most successful businessmen will share their wealth with us!
    Lastly, I don’t know who this author is, but if she thinks that she loves being Texan, she darn sure better stop supporting the Occupy movement. Did I just give away my identity?

    • Considering there are Occupy protests in Houston, Dallas, Ft. Worth, San Antonio, Austin, El Paso, and Laredo, there’s nothing inconsistent with being from Texas and supporting Occupy.

      Oh, and the entire US population is not in the top 1% globally. For example, in 2010, 14.5% of US households have food insecurity. They certainly are not in the top 1% globally. Get your facts straight.

      • Define food security. Comparing the poor in the US to the vast majority of the world’s population is laughable. You can quote statistics all you want, but the fact of the matter is life in the US (and other Western countries) is incomparable to other places. This is because of the massive safety nets built into our society. 

        That being said, the Occupy movement, at least in my opinion, was always an entirely nationalistic movement. The question at the heart of the movement was always a question of American income inequality, not an international one. Whether or not our poor are doing better than the rest of the world isn’t necessarily relevant. 

        • Your lack of ability to define food security for yourself is what is laughable.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_security

          I’m not arguing that life in the US is not better for the average household than much of the world. I was responding to the claim by “The Truth” that ALL of the US population is better off than 99% of the world…

  4. This writer is ignorant of economics, ignorant of the actual mass movement and generally incapable of being persuasive. How in the hell do they collect these statistics? These sources are blatantly biased and this article is so poorly constructed that it isn’t worth the webspace it is published on. 

    I sincerely hope no one takes this shit seriously. If you want to get more quality news go to TheOnion. Even Al Jazeera wouldn’t run something this poor. 

    If you want a strong economy, if you want to better the nation and the less fortunate, don’t support this increased regulation, ill-conceived garbage. Support programs that equalize education, support infrastructure development in urban areas and rural districts, and develop economic opportunities through a stronger and more educated workforce. Not by eliminating the incentives, reducing gains of the productive and regulating our nation’s industry to the point we can’t compete internationally. 

    If we want to regain our status and surpass our own renowned standards, these piss and shit covered hippies aren’t the saving grace. Pragmatic, economic based incentive drive free (with regulatory authorities over certain industries) market activities. 

    More important this writer has got to “Go,” Go drop out and join them. You clearly aren’t cut out for the real world and try making friends outside of piss covered hippies (it might help if you educate yourself before trying to meet new people). 

    Disappointed. 

  5. This writer is ignorant of economics, ignorant of the actual mass movement and generally incapable of being persuasive. How in the hell do they collect these statistics? These sources are blatantly biased and this article is so poorly constructed that it isn’t worth the webspace it is published on. 

    I sincerely hope no one takes this shit seriously. If you want to get more quality news go to TheOnion. Even Al Jazeera wouldn’t run something this poor. 

    If you want a strong economy, if you want to better the nation and the less fortunate, don’t support this increased regulation, ill-conceived garbage. Support programs that equalize education, support infrastructure development in urban areas and rural districts, and develop economic opportunities through a stronger and more educated workforce. Not by eliminating the incentives, reducing gains of the productive and regulating our nation’s industry to the point we can’t compete internationally. 

    If we want to regain our status and surpass our own renowned standards, these piss and shit covered hippies aren’t the saving grace. Pragmatic, economic based incentive drive free (with regulatory authorities over certain industries) market activities. 

    More important this writer has got to “Go,” Go drop out and join them. You clearly aren’t cut out for the real world and try making friends outside of piss covered hippies (it might help if you educate yourself before trying to meet new people). 

    Disappointed. 

    • Reactions to liberalism on the Forum: In which hordes of wealthy CMCers trip over themselves to defend their capitalistic fundamentalism while revealing a complete aloofness from the rest of the United States.

      Good article, Katya.

    • It is completely unnecessary to insult and attack this article and Katya just because you disagree. This is an opinion article by an amateur, student reporter; your disgust is a ridiculous overreaction. You are an embarrassment to your own opinions.  

    • It is completely unnecessary to insult and attack this article and Katya just because you disagree. This is an opinion article by an amateur, student reporter; your disgust is a ridiculous overreaction. You are an embarrassment to your own opinions.  

      • Hahahahahha. I suppose you are correct, by her own admission all she has going for herself is writing for a bullshit publication and watching Hulu. 

        I assure you, I am disappointed. Disappointed that this garbage is published in this paper and that people are ignorant enough to throw reason out the window to support some disturbed movement. 

        I hope you delete your names from this, future employers don’t care for piss covered hippies. They really hurt the work environment. 

        • “Disgusted” your comments truly disgust me. I am shocked by
          your lack of respect for a fellow CMC student. I understand that you may
          strongly disagree with this article and that you might find it to be biased.
          But that is what an “opinion” article is. It is supposed to spark debate,
          supposed to make some people angry. Respect the fact that this author took the
          time to go downtown and investigate the Occupy LA movement for herself. And
          respect that she wrote about her own experiences interacting with real protesters.
          She didn’t sit at home listening to Rush Limbaugh or watching Fox News and
          believe all lies they propagate. Nor did she simply read the Wall Street
          Journal or the New York Times to form her perceptions of the movement. No, she
          formed her opinion by actually experiencing Occupy Movement first hand.  I completely respect her for doing this
          and I suggest you go downtown too and talk with these people before you start
          forming such harsh opinions of them. 
          Maybe you’ll find that they are not all “ piss and shit covered hippies”
          but instead normal people much like you and me. You will find teachers, small
          business owners, and factory workers, people we depend on each and every day. Yes,
          her article could have been better written, but I would rather read any article
          about a CMCer’s experience with protesters than some generic article based on
          other news source’s portrayals of the movement.  Also, I think it is a representation of your poor character
          to post such personal attacks without even posting your name. I would hope that
          future work employers would be far more disappointed by the immature way you
          have not owned up to your own comments than the few who stood behind their
          beliefs. Grow some cojones and post your name next time you personally attack
          someone. 

        • Disgusted, you’re ironically the most DISGUSTING PERSON to roam this school. While I agree we should be pragmatic, your hateful comments have taken away from anything valid you have said. You don’t even know Katya, how DARE you call her a “piss covered hippie”? Here you are saying she can’t get hired for writing this article, when YOU would never even get a job if someone knew the asshole you are. 

          You should literally go fall in a ditch because this world doesn’t need heartless jerks like you. Stop reading the Forum if you’re going to post bullshit comments. YOU SUCK 

        • Assholes, like you, also hurt the work environment… Why can’t you just state your opinion in a civilized manner? Its understandable that you disagree, but there is no reason to personally attack Katya. 

      • Oh and your boyfriend loves men and plays with them a whole lot more than you… Maybe you should head back to Texas, you’re barking up a limp tree. 

        Oh, Oops? My bad Matt 😉 

  6. I’m still waiting for Occupy Claremont. We are supposed to be leaders in the making, who is going to step up and lead the charge??

  7. I’m still waiting for Occupy Claremont. We are supposed to be leaders in the making, who is going to step up and lead the charge??

  8. If you want to Occupy Claremont…you’re gunna have to get through me first. O, and by the way, I’m 6’6”. Good  Luck

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