Wall Street Protesters Recount Experience


The Occupy Wall Street protest began Sept. 17 and has since grown into a widespread demonstration with daily media coverage.  Some of these protesters include Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) students who go downtown straight after classes end.

“Protesting on this level is much more fun than a football game,” Mark Naison, professor of african american studies and history, said.

Naison said, “Hell yes this is a movement.” He said that the concept of “‘occupy’ didn’t even exist a month ago,” yet these occupants have “changed the vocabulary of political discourse.”

“Nobody talked about the concept of occupation in August. Who would have understood ‘Occupy Fordham’?” Naison said. “It’s making people think that they have the power to take control of their situation.” Naison has actively participated in several “Occupy” groups from Occupy Wall Street to Occupy the Bronx and even Occupy New Jersey.

“Every time I’ve gone down there, there are drums beating and people are dancing,” Naison said. “Since they can’t find jobs, they might as well have a good time trying to change the country.”

According to Naison, while he was growing up, the top one percent of America only controlled nine percent of the nation’s wealth and now it is up to 44 percent. “I’ve been waiting for something like this to happen for a long time. This level of inequality just rubs me the wrong way.”

Megan O’Hara, FCLC ’13, went to the protest whenever she did not have class, and said that she went the first day it began after reading a post by Anonymous, the online activist hacking group.

“I think it’s insane and beautiful how people have really caught on to the ideas that have been broadcasted through the Occupy Wall Street movement.” She said that the reason she thinks the protests have lasted a month has largely to do with the protestors’ discipline and respect.

“There’s a huge emphasis on respect and nonviolence and that’s given the movement a lot of staying power because police and authorities have no excuse to put a stop to it,” O’ Hara said.

Naison agrees with O’Hara’s statement, and said, “Everytime you send the police there, it only makes the movement even bigger.”

In May 2011’s Vanity Fair issue, Joseph E. Stiglitz wrote the article entitled “Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%,” where he stated that the top one percent control 40 percent of our nation’s wealth. That one percent is mainly wealthy corporations and people who work in national corporations like Wall Street.

It is the rest of the 99 percent in which O’Hara said the protest is trying to shift consciousness towards. “Students are a part of the 99 percent of the country that did not benefit from the bank bailouts and it is our student loans that aren’t getting bailed out.”

As a student, she said that it is our responsibility to take action. “We’re about to go out and enter the world after we graduate and we should be the ones making sure for ourselves that it’s the world we want to go out into.”

Another FCLC student said he really wants to go, but cannot make it due to his class and internship schedule.

However, Ardi Domgjonia, FCLC  ’13, said that he strongly supports the protestors at Wall Street and hopes the movement will continue to be strong. He said that he is skeptical about how much longer this movement will last.

“With winter coming along, I don’t know how many more people will stand outside in the cold and sleepover parks, but my hope is that this movement, although it has the name Wall Street, will continue to spread to other places and not stay on Wall Street.” He discussed how Boston and Washington, D.C. have held their own version of the protest, but the fact that hundreds are arrested over there is as important as if it were on Wall Street.

Domgjonia also said that he is glad the protest is at Wall Street, a symbolic space that has influenced cities across the nation. He said that the media will always cover the good and the bad, “but the important thing is that they have attracted media attention.”

In addition, Naison said that he encourages everyone, not just his students, to go. “This is where the action is in American right now because it is all over the world.”

He concluded, “Things can change very fast, and this movement is a month old, but its already made history. Hold on to your hats because it’s going to become more.”