Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Covering Amherst 100-Percent: With the 99%

As I've mentioned, Sunday, October 16, proved to be a busy day on the civic calendar. While Select Board Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe was serving the "99 percent" by helping to oversee the annual Shelter Sunday fund drive, I was representing the Town before the "1 percent" at the inauguration of the Amherst College President. As it happened, it was also the date of the first "Occupy Amherst" gathering on the Common.

Unwilling to miss two populist opportunities in one day, I headed over to the rally as soon as I could.

I arrived in time to hear the crowd chanting, "We are the 99 percent." It was metaphorical, or a statement of values and desires, of course, for it wasn't much of a crowd: far fewer people than at the inauguration. In fact, there didn't seem to be even 99 individuals there, let alone any significant percentage of the population. But it's the thought that counts.

To be sure, I had no idea what to expect. I had read about the loopiness and extremism of some adherents of the "occupy" movement. So, when I spotted yellow banners with a vertical emblem in the center, I just naturally assumed that they were the flags of Hezbollah (after all, Judith Butler  calls it a "progressive" social movement"). Turned out this was instead a counterdemonstration by the local Tea Party. (Who knew we even had such a thing?)

The Tea Party-ers were a small but dedicated bunch. They came well prepared, with neatly lettered signs and strong messages.

Can't say these people don't know their own minds. (I can say they know nothing about socialism or communism, if that's what they think we have here now.)

They were even passing out free books.

As for the actual "Occupy" rally, it was a sedate and eclectic affair, promoting various causes, from a general longing for social justice to pacifism and local agriculture. One red flag, one American flag. Some gray hair, some pink hair. Something for everyone.
the 99 persons (or close to it)

Food, Not Bombs

Gray Hair, Pink Hair

Dissent IS Patriotic
My Tweep @amymittelman makes a statement

1 comment:

SnoopyTheGoon said...

"I can say they know nothing about socialism or communism, if that's what they think we have here now."

Well, I strongly suspect that this applies in equal measure to the OWS.